The calendar is closing in on March, which means it’s nearly time for the NCAA tournament. The top college basketball programs in the country are closing out their conference schedules and preparing for the postseason, and oddsmakers are offering a number of ways to wager on the Big Dance – including head-to-head team matchups in which you pick which NCAA power will go deeper in the tournament.
Here’s a look at some of the most interesting head-to-head March Madness futures and their odds for online gambling:
Villanova Wildcats (-135) vs. Michigan State Spartans (+105)
The Wildcats were atop the national poll for the majority of conference play and only recently slipped up, with some poor shooting performances handing Villanova rare losses. Head coach Jay Wright has a nice blend of talent and experience on this squad and early bracket projections have the Wildcats earning the No. 1 overall seed – which should make for the softest stroll through the Madness.
Michigan State is also pegged as a projected No. 1 seed but has been less than convincing in recent outings. The Spartans have a tremendous coach in Tom Izzo, who always seems to get the most from his players during the NCAA, and are in a rare spot with two Top-5 NBA lottery picks on the court in Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. Pro-ready talent can go a long way in taking a team to the title, so there’s absolutely value with MSU as an underdog in this matchup.
Arizona Wildcats (-125) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (-105)
If success against the spread is any indication of tournament potential, Purdue could take an early bow in the Big Dance. The Boilermakers are among the best in the Big Ten but have failed to cover in 10 of their 16 conference clashes, going 5-10-1 ATS. Purdue is projected to earn a No. 2 seed and we’ve seen a few second-seeded school wobble early into the tournament in recent years. On top of that, the Boilermakers haven’t been a great road team either, and all those postseason games will be away from home.
Arizona has also struggled against the spread in Pac-12 play, posting a 5-8-1 ATS mark in conference competition. The Wildcats are looking like a No. 4 seed in the early bracket projections, which means a little tougher road than the No. 2 Boilermakers. Arizona does have an ace up its sleeve however, in DeAndre Ayton – the project first-overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. A deep run into the tournament would secure his draft stock.
Kansas Jayhawks (+120) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (-150)
This is a showdown between basketball blue bloods, with oddsmakers giving the nod to the defending NCAA champion Tar Heels. North Carolina hasn’t looked as dominant as last season, but seem to be rounding into form at the right time. The ACC is a much tougher conference than the Big 12 and that has UNC battle tested with an experienced and talent-rich roster. Early bracket projections have the Heels set as No. 3 seeds.
The Jayhawks are in danger of having their Big 12 title streak snapped, but have turned up in the intensity in recent games. Kansas overcame some offensive woes just in time to pick up a win over West Virginia and build momentum heading into a showdown with Texas Tech. The biggest knock against KU is a lack of depth, and wear and tear or a possible injury could leave Kansas thin come tourney time. But despite their drop in dominance in the Big 12, bracketologist have Rock Chalk in line for a No. 1 seed, which would give them a much easier path during March Madness.