Selection Sunday is out of the way and the 68 teams that are going to play for the 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament championship have been determined. If you’re listening to the cacophony of voices from the talking heads on ESPN, then you’ve seen that they are choosing chalk. As seasoned viewers of college basketball, and the “March Madness” process, you know that isn’t going to happen!

So, who is going to be the teams to make a run this year in the “Big Dance?” This year’s field is quite strange in that many of the teams at the top DIDN’T win their conference tournament, not a good sign when you’re entering a “win or you’re done” knockout tournament. With these thoughts in mind, let’s pull out the Crystal Ball and see what it has to say.

Picking a National Champion? Don’t Be Swayed by Big Prices

If you’re looking to lay a bit on who will eventually win the National Championship, don’t go crazy looking for extremely long shots to win the title. In the modern era of the NCAA Tournament (since 1979), only twice has a team with longer than 30-1 odds cut down the nets at the end. That means you can eliminate three-quarters of the 68-team field before the ball goes in the air.

According to HardRockBET, only fourteen teams have better than 30-1 odds of winning the championship. This does leave out some sexy picks like Kansas (+4000), Florida and Gonzaga (+6000), and an upstart BYU team (+6000), but those teams will probably still draw action. Another strange situation exists for those fourteen teams, however.

Who is On Top of Their Game?

Out of the fourteen teams that have the right odds, only three of them – UConn, Illinois, and Iowa State – were victorious in their conference tournaments. Now, it is true that winning your conference tournament isn’t a massive indicator of success (in fact, some teams that are locked in would rather have the time off to rest), but it does show that a team is on an upswing, a good streak, heading to the tournament. As these three teams may have wasted their energies on winning a tournament title, do they have the juice to go deep in the “Big Dance?”

There are a few teams that sat down for most of Championship Weekend after they lost early in their conference tournament. Topping that list would be Duke, who fell in their first game in the ACC Tournament and have had a few days to stew over it. Another team to look at – and yes, this goes outside the “30-1 rule” – is Kansas, who sat two of their biggest stars in the Big 12 Conference tournament and lost their first game. Kansas has been at or near the top of the standings all season long and, if they can return their stars healthy, they could be a sneaky bet.

No $$$ in Chalk

If we are looking to make some money off the NCAA Tournament in 2024, then we’re going to have to go deep on the board. A bet on Illinois (+3000) or Kansas (+4000) would be a solid “money bet,” but if you’re looking to play it safe, then the top seeds might be the way to go. The thing is…only one of them cut the nets at their conference tournament.

That team was the Huskies of UConn, the defending champion of the NCAA, who will enter the tournament at +400 (a $100 wager returns $400), As the Big East Champion, UConn was not challenged during the time at Madison Square Garden. The issue with UConn is that only three teams made this year’s NCAA Tournament from the conference (Marquette and Creighton joined UConn in the Dance, and St. John’s probably should have been included), indicating that the Selection Committee didn’t hold the Big East as high as in years past.

The other three #1 seeds – Houston, Purdue, and Arizona – are teams that come into this year’s tournament with an L on the ledger. Houston was completely shut down by Iowa State, while Purdue (who has traditionally had issues in the NCAA Tournament) lost to Wisconsin in the Big Ten and Arizona was squelched by eventual PAC 12 champ Oregon. A loss can sometimes just be a loss but, at this time of the year, it isn’t a harbinger of success.

If there’s a sneaky money bet to make in the 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament field, then it may come from the SEC. Two teams from that conference, Tennessee and Auburn, have similar odds (+1750) and have been strong players throughout the season. The Wildcats won the SEC Tournament title (over a surprising Florida squad), so you could be forgiven if you want to give Auburn an edge in the deliberations.

It is time for “one shining moment” for 68 teams. It is time to determine who is the best in college basketball. And it will all get started on Thursday!

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