Welcome to my first March Madness breakdown for 2023 NCAA Tournament bets. Bettors will inevitably focus their attention on first-round March Madness odds, but there’s still value elsewhere for Final Four bets. Following the bracket release on Sunday evening, I wagered on Final Four odds, honing in on an underachieving SEC program. Let’s dive in, shall we? Click on the odds below to place a bet.
Arkansas NCAA Tournament Futures
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Razorbacks’ Alluring Profile
You’re probably asking yourself, “Why would I bet a longshot from West Region odds, aka this year’s region of death?”
Considering some of these futures prices are inflated because of this exact notion, it’s worth throwing a dart at a high-variance, undervalued team for Final Four bets. Enter the Hogs, which possessed +1100 Final Four odds only a week ago. Per the odds table above, the best price available on Arkansas to win the West Region is .
The Razorbacks display the talent to make their third consecutive Elite Eight appearance — and punch their first Final Four ticket since 1995. They’re paced by a pair of likely lottery picks in five-star freshmen Nick Smith and Anthony Black. Smith missed 19 games with a knee injury, yet the soon-to-be pro doesn’t appear as if he’s holding anything back.
Not only does Smith provide additional floor-spacing for a unit that severely lacks it (304th-ranked 3-point efficiency), but he’s also lightning-quick off the dribble. That’s vital for an offense that is certainly stagnant with its half-court sets, relying on primarily transition opportunities for its most prosperous possessions.
Meanwhile, the 6-foot-7, 198-pound Black doesn’t resemble a prolific 3-point marksman. But he’s a gifted playmaker in Eric Musselman‘s ball-screen action, notching a top-300 assist rate nationally. That’s, of course, when Arkansas isn’t ultra-reliant on Musselman’s pro-style offense. Nevertheless, Black, Smith, Wichita State transfer Ricky Council IV, and Devo Davis can combine for enough scoring to help lift the Hogs back to their preseason market rating. Mind you, they opened the 2022-23 campaign tied with Kansas and Tennessee for the fifth-shortest national title odds (+1400).
Moreover, the Razorbacks boast the 16th-rated adjusted defensive efficiency (per KenPom), a critical metric to account for while evaluating NCAA tournament profiles. With that department, they’re forcing a top-65 turnover percentage — a product of their vigorous ball pressure. Black is a significant variable in that regard, and he sparks their fast-break attack in the process. Couple that with their imposing length around the rim, reinforced by the Mitchell twins, and there’s much to write home about at this end.
Granted, Musselman’s bunch plays an emotional brand of basketball. It’s cost the Razorbacks a handful of times at Bud Walton Arena this season. But finding their way out of the SEC — and onto a neutral court — may wind up representing precisely what the Hogs need to reach their ceiling.
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West Region Analysis
As previously noted, this slice of the bracket is no cakewalk. UCLA, Kansas, Gonzaga, UConn, TCU, and Saint Mary’s are all capable of advancing to Houston. However, let’s start with Arkansas’ pod in the region. The Hogs () face off against Illinois — an ideal opponent via its turnover issues — in the first round.
With the exception of a historic upset, the defending champion Jayhawks would be up next. Their resume, stemming from the Big 12, is evident. However, they sport the second-most “record luck” among teams with at least 27 wins (per ShotQuality). That involves their 11-3 mark in games decided by two possessions or fewer, which props up the concept of positive variance towards their market perception.
Combine that factor with a leaky transition defense and Kevin McCullar‘s lingering back injury. Hence, it’s no surprise that Kansas has the lowest Final Four odds (14.97%) for a No. 1 seed in entire KenPom era. It’s even 8.29 percentage points less than its implied probability (+330).
If the Hogs pull off an upset in the Round of 32, the rest of the bracket theoretically opens up its doors for a deep run.
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Browse March Madness Across Sportsbooks
Compare odds across legal sportsbooks below and click the odds for Final Four bets and college basketball upsets. Browse March Madness odds and props in the dropdown menu. You can price shop with our daily college basketball odds for the Big Dance as well.