The first four-day marathon of March Madness concludes on Sunday.
We’ve already seen the 15 seed knock off the 2 seed and the No. 1 Purdue drop to the 16 seed FDU in the Eastern region.
We are off to a pretty good start.
On Sunday, the final slot for Sweet 16 will be filled. My two preseason future bets on him, Clayton (+10000) and Baylor (+1600) face off.
I’m leaning on Baylor there, but in my bet there was some value in another game and Final Four futures.
Are you betting on March Madness 2023?
Kentucky -1.5 Kansas (BetMGM)
Betting on Kentucky this year was a little less painful than banging your head against the wall for two hours.
The Wildcats have been inconsistent all season, but looking at last month, Kentucky is showing signs of turning around.
Kentucky is 6-2 in its last eight games, with Vanderbilt losing both. Six wins is not wasted. The Wildcats beat NCAA tournament teams Providence, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.
So it’s encouraging to see Kentucky’s body of work over the past month.
I love Kansas State University and am a huge fan of head coach Jerome Tan.
The team is playing hard every night and Kentucky needs to match the intensity of Kansas State.
However, Kentucky has some matchup edges that are hard to ignore.
The biggest one is rebound.
The way to beat Kentucky is to limit second-chance opportunities and let them shoot from the outside.
As Providence discovered, Oskar Zibwe is an absolute monster.
Tshiebwe finished the first round game with a tournament-record 25 rebounds. He should dominate again on Sunday, especially on the offensive board.
Thanks to Tshiebwe, Kentucky ranks second in offensive rebounding percentage, and Kansas, much smaller than Kansas State, ranks 219th in defensive rebounding percentage.
According to Haslametrics, Kentucky also turns rebounds into points and ranks third in second-chance conversion percentage and fifth in close-range (layups, dunks, tip-ins) field goal percentage.
It’s hard to win when Kentucky scores from close range.
Another thing to watch out for in close quarters is that Kansas State has really struggled with turnovers and fouling, ranking north of 290 in both categories.
If Kentucky wins the turnover battle and Tshiebwe dominates the paint, look for it to advance to Sweet 16.
Florida Atlantic wins East Region +500 (FanDuel)
One thing some people forget is that you can still bet on futures during tournaments.
How the bracket shakes out early can sometimes open up value for certain teams. So is Florida Atlantic.
FAU had a dead-even matchup in the first round against Memphis, and if they won, they were likely to face No. 1 seed Purdue.
Well, the Owls won, but they didn’t face the Boilermaker after Purdue was shocked by Fairey Dickinson.
That big upset makes FAU a likely spot for the Sweet 16. Anything can happen, but the Owls are the favorite on Sunday, where he is 12.5 points.
Let’s say seed rights are held and Florida Atlantic moves forward. Then things get interesting.
The FAU’s next game will be against Tennessee, then Kentucky, Kansas, Marquette, or Michigan.
It’s certainly not an easy road, but Owls are actually a good match for all of these teams.
Ranking in the top 40 for both KenPom’s offensive and defensive efficiency, this FAU team has a lot to offer.
Owl shoots, defends and rebounds well and doesn’t turn the ball over.
You could argue they didn’t make it to the Power 5 conference, but other than that, this team doesn’t have many weaknesses.
Had Memphis held on and beaten FAU, the odds would have been lower than +500.
There’s some value in Owl making the Final Four with Purdue.