Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Rasir Bolton (Photo by Oliver McKenna/Icon Sportswire)
Baylor made college basketball history last week when the Bears became the first AP No. 1 to lose two home games back-to-back. Their losses opened the door for Gonzaga to move back up to No. 1, which is where the Bulldogs’ odds to win the 2022 NCAA Tournament have been at most sportsbooks throughout the season.
Before you go all-in on the Zags, know that prior to Baylor’s title last season, no preseason favorite had gone on to win the National Championship since North Carolina did it in 2009.
Yes, Gonzaga was the preseason favorite this year.
Does that mean you should overlook the Bulldogs this year? Of course not, but you should keep an open mind and review the odds for some of the nation’s best teams:
2022 NCAA Tournament Odds: Top 25 At FanDuel And DraftKings
Let’s examine the college basketball championship odds for the top teams in the country at two of the top sportsbooks in the country, DraftKings and FanDuel:
|NCAAM Champion– 2021/22||DraftKings||FanDuel||Coaches Poll Rank Week 11|
Picking team to bet to win CFP National Championship is a lot easier than picking a college basketball team to get behind. For football, there is little room for error. While a team can recover from a loss early in the season, if a team loses a game late or drops a second, it will probably not get into the playoffs. The committee has yet to select a team with more than one loss.
But in college basketball, there is more room for error with a 30-game regular season, conference tournaments, and 68 spots in the NCAA Tournament. There’s also a more difficult road to the championship. A college football teams need one win to make the title game; a basketball team need at least five.
Then there is the ever-present threat that a Cinderella will emerge. A lower-seeded team upsetting a contender is not rare, and some have even made it to the Final Four and championship game. Villanova was a No. 8-seed when it won the tourney in 1985; UConn was a No. 7-seed when the Huskies won in 2014.
Higher seeds (1, 2, and 3-seeds) have dominated the championship game in the last six tournaments. Before that, the 2014 NCAA Tournament final featured No. 7 UConn vs No. 8 Kentucky; and in 2011, it as No. 3-UConn vs. No. 5-Butler. From 2010-15, only four 1-seeds made the title game, and they all won it.
Some trends may help you determine which teams may be worth rolling the dice on.
Since the 2009-10 season, eight of 11 champions were No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. However, according to SportsOddsHistory.com, none of them were the preseason betting favorite, except for Baylor last season. All eight had preseason odds among the top 1o, ranging from +550 (Kentucky, 2012) to +2700 (Villanova, 2018).
Of the last 11, nine ranked inside the top 10 of the Coaches Poll in Week 1 or the AP’s preseason rankings. Baylor was the only preseason No. 1, but there were also a pair of preseason No. 2s (Kentucky, 2012; Louisville, 2013) that won it all.
But the higher-ranked teams with shorter odds are not your only option. Do not overlook the outliers.
College Basketball Championship Outliers
By outliers, we are talking about teams not on anyone’s radar entering the Tournament. But once tournament play got underway, they took care of business and earned their shot.
UConn has pulled it off twice in recent years, once in 2011 and again in 2014. The Huskies were not ranked entering the 2011 season; in 2014, they were No. 19 to start the year (Coaches Poll). They played well throughout each regular season, but they were not among the top contenders entering the Tournament in either year.
Two championship wins in 11 tries does not make much of a case for betting on outliers. However, when you consider that four of the 11 runners-up in the Tournament were 4-seeds or higher, there is a reason to believe anyone can win it all.