Who NOT to bet on to win the Tourney Title

by Vegas Writer

Wednesday, Mar 15, 2023
Time for your Buyer Beware speech, as the dance that's big gets underway in full on Thursday.

While many are on the prowl to identify the right team to invest in, the one with the right odds, and that can make a run at the title, I'm alerting you to the higher seeded teams I see bowing out sooner than expected so you don't make any financial mistakes.

PURDUE (No. 1 seed, East Region)

Of the No. 1 seeds in this year's event, the Boilermakers appear to be the most vulnerable, and one I don't think makes it into the national semifinals, let alone the East final. Sure, they won the Big Ten tournament, but they also were on the right side of the bracket, facing Rutgers (who lost in the first round of the NIT), sub-.500 Ohio State (which played its fourth game in as many days) and a weary Penn State team that wouldn't have been able to compete had it been rested.

The draw isn't as easy in this event, with the potential opponents in Memphis and Duke or Tennessee just to get to the East final, where the likes of Kentucky, Kansas State, Michigan State, USC, and Marquette reside on the other side of the bracket.

After outscoring opponents by nearly 14 points per game after a 22-1 start to the season, the Boilers closed the season and conference tourney going 7-4 and outscoring teams by just 3.3 per contest. This team won't be able to weather the storm.

BAYLOR (No. 3 seed, South Region)

It's amazing the difference a few years can make. From the Bears' championship run in 2020-21, to now, the depth and defense is a drastic change. Sure, the offense has been flowing with one of the best backcourts in the nation, but the Bears can't defend. And that simply won't cut it in this region, even in the opening round against Santa Barbara.

If the Bears get past the Gauchos, I think they're destined to face Creighton, which has improved dramatically in the second half of the season. Second-seeded Arizona is bound to get to the South semis, and if Baylor can claw its way to the East final, sorry, but I'm guessing Alabama will be waiting, and I think the Tide can win it all.

Baylor was lucky to grab a 3-seed in my eyes, after losing four of its last six games, including its regular-season home finale to Iowa State by 15, and then again in the Big 12 tournament to the same Cyclones, by six. The Bears gave up 69.0 over their first 26 games. During that final 2-4 slide, they allowed 75.5 points per contest. The Bears go into hibernation sooner than later.

VIRGINIA (No. 4 seed, South Region)

Another team from the same region as Baylor, I don't see how the Cavaliers make it through a rugged gauntlet when I see how they've underperformed lately. Though they won four of seven since Feb. 22, it's the lackluster offense that is alarming.

This is a team that was outscoring teams by a respectable 9.0 points per game during a 21-4 start but fell off noticeably with its offense losing roughly six points per game and the scoring differential shrinking to +2.6 in that seven-game span.

The Cavs tend to make life hard on themselves on the offensive end of the floor, failing to work for the easy buckets, and relying too much on the long ball. That'll be trouble at some point, as this top-four seed loses before the regional final.

GONZAGA (No. 3 seed, West Region)

I don't trust Mark Few, point blank. He cannot coach when things aren't going well and he's scrambling for answers. There's always too much dependence on one guy, and this year it's Drew Timme. Sure, he's not a bad choice. But when the Bulldogs run up against a team that can isolate on him, Few isn't always open to expanding his options.

This affects things at both ends of the court, as the Bulldogs aren't necessarily a good defensive team in transition. So in potential opponents like UCLA, Kansas or UConn, Iona, or even West Coast-rival Saint Mary's, they may find themselves bottled up.

The Bulldogs have failed to crack the Top 100 with their adjusted defensive efficiency the past month, and it's creating mass imbalance for what should be a much better team than we've seen all season. Another early exit for Few and company.

CONNECTICUT (No. 4 seed, West Region)

The Huskies were a four-seed in the Big East Conference. Suddenly they're a four-seed in the dance? I'm not convinced, especially when I think the team with the most potential from that league is Marquette. Connecticut won just six of 11 in true road games. Okay, these are neutral-court games, and the Huskies won four of five on neutral courts. But this team fails in key categories that are big intangibles in this tournament.

The Huskies rank 124th with just 18.9 free throw attempts per game - they don't draw enough fouls. They're tied for 270th in committing 18.1 fouls per contest - they foul too much. And I'd feel better if they forced more than 13.2 turnovers per game.

Some may say Connecticut is in the easiest bracket, but I wouldn't be shocked in the least if Rick Pitino and his 13th-seeded Iona Gaels win this opening-round matchup.

Good luck with your choices on future wagers, just don't make any one of these five.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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