One of the best parts about DraftKings Sportsbook is the ability to bet on some unique outcomes. One of those rare finds is betting on who will earn a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament. It’s an interesting way to back a team you think is going to finish the regular season and conference tournament on a strong note, but also takes subjectivity into account. A committee has to vote on which four teams get the No. 1 seeds, so you have to factor that into your handicapping.
Here’s a look at some of the top teams, based on the odds, as well a couple potential long shots.
The Top-4 Favorites
The Zags are 23-1, sitting at No. 2 overall in the AP top-25. The reason they’re so heavily favored to land a one-seed is that they have no tough competition standing in their way until the tournament gets here. Gonzaga is -335 to win the WCC tournament, and I think there’s a reason it’s the same number to land a one-seed. If this team wins out, it’s a lock for a top seed. If it loses a game, then we get much closer to even odds. I’m almost rooting for this to happen given the parity in college hoops this season. A two-loss Zags team is still a one-seed to me. Since we can’t parlay this with anything, betting the -335 is tough to justify.
This is my favorite bet of the group. Baylor is 20-1 overall, and sitting at No. 1 in the polls. Basically every metric you want to use to quantify, Baylor is in the top-4, including third overall in KenPom. This team has passed every test put in front of it, including a dominant win at Kansas. I think it can afford a couple losses to top competition and still land a one-seed. It has one more test against Kansas, and two against West Virginia before the conference tournament, so there are some spots the Bears could slip up.
San Diego State (+150)
San Diego State is a lot like Gonzaga given the lack of competition. SDSU is 23-0 overall, and ranked No. 4 in the poll. This team basically has to win out AND win its conference tournament to land a one-seed. It’s not out of the question, and I think they’ll do it. But is +150 good odds for that? Probably not. SDSU is -225 to win the Mountain West, just to show how dominant its been.
While we can’t parlay teams to land one-seeds, we can parlay conference tournament winners. Gonzaga and SDSU piece together for a nice play at -113.
I’ll start by saying I love Oregon as a team. They were a tremendous bet last March, covering their final 13 games of the season, and I think they will be a good bet on a game-by-game basis again this year. They deserve to be favored in the PAC-12, and I’m pleased to have bet on them in the preseason. However, +150 is way too high on this team to land a one-seed. If DK was offering the other side, I’d gladly lay the -200 they don’t get a top seed. Oregon is ranked No. 14 in the polls, and 20th in KenPom. At 18-5 overall, I just don’t see the path to getting a one-seed. The Ducks would probably have to start by winning out, so why target a +150 payout on that?
Kansas feels like a fantastic bet for a 2X payout. Maybe there’s some hesitation that two Big 12 teams will land one-seeds, but I don’t see that being an issue if Kansas and Baylor both wind up as clear-cut top-four teams. Kansas gets another crack at Baylor during the regular season as well. The Jayhawks rank No. 3 in the poll at 18-3, and are actually the top-ranked team in KenPom. Kansas is by far the best bet outside of the top-four favored team, and maybe the best bet overall. Kansas is the second-favorite to win it all at +1000, behind only Gonzaga. Being fifth in line for a one-seed doesn’t make sense.
Dayton (+250) vs. Duke (+250)
This is an interesting tandem to consider. Duke ranks No. 7 overall at 18-3, and is No. 2 in KenPom. The Blue Devils have the potential to be the top team in the country, which is reflected in their +175 to reach the Final Four odds. One slip from one of the top teams in the odds, and Duke is right in the conversation.
However, Dayton ranks No. 6 overall, just above Duke, and has a 20-2 record. Dayton’s remaining tests are a game at VCU, and two games against URI. If it can win out in the A-10, and win the conference tournament, a slip up from a top team could leave a path for Dayton. The Flyers are -125 favorites to win the A-10 tournament.
In all likelihood no team steeper than +250 will land a top seed. But Maryland is being undervalued at these odds. This was a top-five team early in the season, and has worked back to No. 9 at 17-4. Maryland is undefeated at home, and really needs some big road wins to enter the conversation. But look at some comparisons here. FSU is No. 8 in the poll at 18-3, yet +200 to land a one-seed? That makes no sense. FSU and MD are extremely comparable teams, and the Terrapins would likely be favored on a neutral court.
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