March Madness is approaching at breakneck speed and as is always the situation in early February there are a number of teams and players that have outperformed preseason expectations. The oddsmakers have made their NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship adjustments to the odds in the College futures container and the consensus favorite to win the Big Dance title in April is Roy Williams’ North Carolina Tar Heels.
It isn’t a stretch to believe, or know for that matter, that there is no one dominant team in the 2015-16 Campus ranks. Week after week there is a new No #1, or so it seems, and it is apparent that no school or squad wants to claim the title of the nation’s top team this year. For the first time since 1948-49, five No. 1 teams lost their hierarchy status before February. There just isn’t that one team, with that can’t lose attitude, like last year’s Kentucky Wildcats that ran the table from the preseason to the Final Four.
So who is the most deserving school to wear the No #1 tiara? What team entering the final month of the regular season conference slate has the best chance to take home the national championship trophy?
Is it a team from arguably the best conference among the Power Five, possibly Oklahoma or Kansas, from the Big 12?
Is North Carolina the most dangerous starting five in college hoops?
The Tar Heels relinquished their spot atop the polls in the first full month of the non-conference portion of the schedule after losing at Northern Iowa. The Heels also lost to Shaka Smart’s Texas Longhorns and most recently were turned away at the Yum in Louisville by Rick Pitino’s Cardinals.
While this introduction to the latest College Basketball Men’s Championship odds isn’t based on overall record, RPI breakdown or conference standings, Roy’s Boys are a safe entry into the dance this March with a resume that shows wins over Maryland and an 8-1 record against KenPom.com top 100 teams.
Can Duke turnaround their middle of the pack ACC standings status or are they not capable of beating the upper echelon in any conference, yet alone the ACC, with the loss of Amile Jefferson?
The current overall No #1 ranked consensus OU Sooners have exceeded expectations and while Player of the Year candidate Buddy Hield is a big reason for the Sooners success, the team, as a whole, is making almost half of their triples, and only one team (2012 Northern Colorado) has made more than 45 percent of its 3’s for an entire season (records date back to when KenPom started tracking these statistics, beginning in 2002). Oklahoma’s current rate of 3-point makes compared to misses is on pace to crush Northern Colorado’s 2012 record figure.
Oklahoma is shooting over 46 percent from 3-point land. With the understanding that this percentage is unsustainable are the Sooners overvalued at 10-1 to win the 2016 NCAA Men’s title?
Which school should be considered the favorite to win the Big 10 title over the next month? Will the Big 10 soon-to-be conference champions please stand up.
Can the underachieving Ohio State Buckeyes basketball team find a way to win a big game? The Buckeyes lost 66-61 this past Sunday, to then No #8 Maryland, dropping the one true home game that would have vaulted OSU to the top of the Big Dance discussion in Indianapolis. With the Terps fighting off a second half challenge by the Buckeyes and securing a victory coach Mark Turgeon’s squad remains within arm’s distance with the Big 10 front-runners Indiana and Iowa.
The Buckeyes aren’t completely removed from NCAA Tournament talk. OSU does have 14 wins but Ohio State’s chances of getting to the tournament require that they step up their game. If the Buckeyes want to find a spot in the bracket, tonight’s test against Wisconsin, on the Kohl Center hardwood, is a must win. It is step numero uno in Ohio State’s attempt to get back in the tournament talk.
Right now Ohio State is tied for sixth in the Big Ten with Michigan State. If the Buckeyes ended up falling to No. 7, that would set up a path against No. 10 and No. 2 to get two wins in the Big Ten Tournament.
The Buckeyes need to swap spots with league foe Wisconsin on the projected Madness Bubble. Ohio State and Wisconsin are both considered current March Madness bubble teams and the winner tonight will receive attention as the seventh Big Ten team in the tournament conversation.
Is Xavier or Villanova the best team in the Big East? Xavier (20-2) owns the best winning percentage in the country.
Cinderella is either invited by the selection committee in March or earns their way into the Dance with an automatic bid. There is also schools outside of the Power Five, mid-to-lower majors that are projected one-bid conferences that can make a case on deserving an invite to tournament on RPI rakings alone. Stony Brook (America East), North Florida (Atlantic Sun), Montana (Big Sky), UNC-Asheville (Big South), UC Irvine (Big West), Hofstra (CAA), UAB (CUSA), Valparaiso (Horizon), Yale (Ivy), Monmouth (MAAC), Akron (Mid-American) and Hampton (MEAC) are just a few of the long list of the so-called deserving.
Schools that are banned from participating in conference tournaments and in the NCAA Championship: Alcorn State (SWAC), Florida A&M (MEAC), Stetson (Atlantic Sun) Central Arkansas (Southland), SMU (AAC), Southern Miss (C-USA), Pacific (WCC), Cal-State Northridge (Big West), Missouri (SEC)
William Hill has listed the following schools and odds to win the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament on the first Monday in April.
2015-16 MENS NCAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
NRG STADIUM — HOUSTON, TX
MONDAY, APRIL 4, 2016
NORTH CAROLINA 6-1
IOWA ST 40-1
GONZAGA 80 -1
MIAMI FL 25-1
MICHIGAN ST 8-1
NOTRE DAME 100-1
WICHITA ST 50-1
NC STATE 1000-1
OHIO ST 500-1
TEXAS A&M 25-1
FLORIDA ST 200-1
SAN DIEGO ST 200-1
U CONN 50-1
WEST VIRGINIA 30-1
OLE MISS 1000-1
RHODE ISLAND 9999-1
OKLAHOMA ST 5000-1
ARIZONA ST 1000-1
BOISE ST 500-1
GEORGE WASHINGTON 2000-1
ILLINOIS ST 9999-1
KANSAS ST 5000-1
NORTHERN IOWA 9999-1
OLD DOMINION 2000-1
SOUTH CAROLINA 200-1
CAL IRVINE 1000-1
CENTRAL MICHIGAN 9999 -1
LOUISIANA TECH 5000-1
MISS ST 9999-1
NEW MEXICO ST 1000-1
OREGON ST 9999-1
PENN ST 9999-1
ST JOHN’S 9999-1
ST MARY’S 100-1
STEPHEN F AUSTIN 1000-1
WAKE FOREST 5000-1
***ALL BETS ARE ACTION DESPITE TEAMS GOING ON PROBATION OR PLACING THEMSELVES ON PROBATION