NCAA Tournament - A Few "Longer" Shots to Consider

by ASA, Inc.

Thursday, Feb 24, 2022
Looking for a few "longer" shots to win the Big Dance?  Here are a few we're looking at...

UCLA +2000 (current odds at PointsBet)
The Bruins are currently 20-5 on the season and 3 of their 5 losses have come by 3 points or less.  The other 2 losses were both on a neutral site vs Gonzaga (#1 team per Ken Pom) and @ Arizona (#2 team per Ken Pom).  They are one of only four teams in the nation ranked inside the top 15 in offensive and defensive efficiency on Ken Pom’s list.  The others are Gonzaga (+350), Arizona (+800), and Baylor (+1400) and each of those 3 teams have much shorter odds to win it all than this UCLA team.  They are an experienced team that returned 93% of their minutes from a team that made the Final 4 last season.  Not only did they make the Final 4, they nearly went to the National Championship game but lost to Gonzaga in OT in the semi finals.  UCLA returns all but 14 minutes from that 6 game tourney run so we’re getting a team that won’t be out of sorts once the tournament hits.  Been there, done that.  They are deep, have good size, and have very solid guard play (5th nationally in lowest turnover rate).  This team is definitely worth a strong look with their current odds sitting at 20/1.
HOUSTON +3500 (current odds at PointsBet)
Another team that has plenty of NCAA experience.  The Cougars were also a Final 4 team last year and were upended by eventual National Champion Baylor.  They brought back some key players from that team and added some high level transfers from Texas Tech, UConn, and Cal State Bakersfield.  Houston is 23-4 on the season and 3 of those 4 losses have come by 2 points or less including setbacks vs Wisconsin and Alabama.  They did lose 2 key players, Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark, to season ending injuries in December but they’ve had plenty of time to adapt and only lost 2 games since they went out two and a half months ago.  We spoke above of UCLA’s efficiency rankings and Houston is right there with the best in the country.  They are one of only five teams that rank inside the top 16 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.  The Cougars are winning games by an average of 17 PPG and they are stellar on the defensive end ranking 1st nationally allowing opponents to hit only 36% of their shots while allowing just 59 PPG (9th nationally).  They are led by a veteran head coach, Kelvin Sampson, who has over 600 career wins and has taken two different teams to the Final Four (Oklahoma & Houston).  We’re taking a shot with Houston at 35/1.   

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