NCAA Tournament Betting: Which Mid-Majors Can Turn Into Cinderella Stories?

Written By Eli Hershkovich on February 16, 2022 - Last Updated on February 17, 2022
NCAA tournament betting odds

From Butler in 2010-11 to Loyola-Chicago in 2018, we’ve witnessed plenty of mid-major programs go on NCAA tournament runs this century. But which of these potential Cinderella teams present the most alluring NCAA tournament betting odds? Keep in mind, long-shot wagers could be worth hedging the further a team advances.

Click on the NCAA tournament betting odds below to place a Final Four futures bet.

You can even continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect the big games throughout the week. Stay up-to-date on the top-68 programs with my college basketball power rankings.

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Wyoming Cowboys ()

Jeff Linder’s bunch has won 12 of its last 14 games, guided by the 22nd-ranked Adjusted Offensive Efficiency in the country. It runs through Cowboys bigs Graham Ike and Hunter Maldonado — one of the most underrated frontcourts in Division I.

  • Adjusted Efficiency accounts for the estimate efficiency (points scored or allowed per 100 possessions) a team would accrue or allow against the average Division I opponent.

NCAA tournament betting

Ike, #33, boasts the No. 1 possession rate across all of college basketball.

Nevertheless, Wyoming has outperformed shooting metrics by three wins (per ShotQuality), relying on the highest free-throw rate in Mountain West play. Its ball screen defense is also fairly suspect, and it’s surrendering the conference’s second-highest open 3-point rate too. For the Cowboys to cash in these NCAA tournament odds, their offense must be ultra-efficient.

Loyola-Chicago Ramblers ()

The Ramblers have evolved into the most notable mid-major program come the big dance, especially after their upset win over Illinois in the Round of 32 last season.

Similar to recent Loyola teams, it’s generating a top-45 defensive rebounding rate while effectively pressuring the ball. But Drew Valentine, who took over for now-Oklahoma coach Porter Moser, has slightly sped up the offense and revolved it around perimeter shooting.

NCAA tournament betting odds Loyola Chicago

Lucas Williamson, #1, was a role player during the Ramblers’ 2018 Final Four run.

Moreover, the Ramblers are accruing the 43rd-highest 3-point scoring rate as a result of their sound spacing. Led by Williamson and Braden Norris, who can both stretch the floor, Loyola is capable of another long tournament run.

San Francisco Dons ()

Everyone is aware of a trio of teams from the WCC — Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU. But if Dons find their way into March Madness, they’ll represent the conference’s second-biggest threat and will be worth consideration when it comes to NCAA tournament betting.

San Francisco delivers one of the most well-oiled transition offenses in college basketball, as its backcourt tandem of Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz lead an uptempo floor-spacing attack. They even showcase plenty of size upfront with transfers Yauhen Massalski and Patrick Tape, who are both crisp back-to-the-basket scorers.

NCAA tournament betting odds futures

Dons coach Todd Golden could be a sought after commodity for high-major programs.

Although the Dons’ defense hasn’t been exposed for their lackluster defensive spacing, giving up the WCC’s fourth-highest open 3-point rate, their ball pressure doesn’t allow for many perimeter looks.

Colorado State Rams ()

Colorado State sits a half-game back of Wyoming and Boise State in the Mountain West standings, and its five-out offense will certainly make for a difficult out in the big dance.

March Madness Betting

David Roddy, #21, is one of the most well-rounded scorers in the country (19.3 ppg).

Niko Medved’s squad manufactures a top-20 ShotQuality offense because of its efficiency attacking the rim and from behind the arc. It owns the 12th-lowest turnover rate in Division I as well. I bet long-shot NCAA futures on Colorado State at the start of the season, yet the Rams’ transition defense is concerning if their offense undergoes a rough shooting performance.

North Texas Mean Green ()

After a first round upset win over Purdue in last season’s NCAA tourney, North Texas possesses the pieces to make a deeper tournament run. Grant McCasland’s team is on a 10-game winning streak, spun together by its pressure defense and the Conference USA’s second-rated offense.

March Madness Betting

The Mean Green were 7.5-point underdogs against the Boilermakers.

In fact, a Virginia-like offensive approach is a more appropriate distinction. North Texas sits behind the ‘Hoos for the second-longest average possession length across college basketball, operating through long-range gunners Mardrez McBride and Tylor Perry.

No matter the opponent, the Mean Green will be a headache if they’re controlling the tempo. They’ll need to win the conference tournament in order to earn a bid into the dance.

Eli Hershkovich Avatar
Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

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