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  • Writer's pictureElijah Southwick

March Madness: Best Bets to win the National Championship

March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year in all of American sports. The action, drama, improbable upsets and heroic triumphs are unmatched. Millions of people fill out brackets and hang on every result, and each year tells a different story. A good bracket challenge makes March fun, but a good betting market can make it profitable. Here are my three favorite bets to win the 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship.

North Carolina (+1400)

No. 1 seeds have won 63% of all National Championships since 1985 when the tournament expanded to 64 teams. That’s 24 of the last 38 tournaments. Baylor and Kansas won back-to-back tournaments as No. 1 seeds in 2021 and 2022. Last year, not a single No. 1 seed advanced to the Elite Eight.

North Carolina won the ACC regular season conference championship but lost in the ACC tournament championship game to the surging NC State Wolfpack. Despite the upset, the selection committee still rewarded the Tar Heels with a top seed. At +1400, they’re significantly better priced than UConn (+400), Houston (+500) and Purdue (+600). They boast a true star in senior guard RJ Davis and have improved significantly since their tough stretch of losing three out of five ACC games in late January and early February.

Kentucky (+2500)

John Calipari’s Wildcats are always fun to watch in March. This year, they’ve been selected as a No. 3 seed and draw Houston, Marquette and Duke as the other top seeds in the South region. Kentucky was upset by Texas A&M in the SEC tournament quarterfinals, but they did beat Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee all in the last month.

Three of their top five scorers are freshmen in classic Kentucky fashion. Their loss to Texas A&M may have sweetened this price a bit. In theory, freshmen improve as the year progresses, and their early exit in the conference tournament will allow them extra rest. Senior guard and top scorer Antonio Reeves gives their young lineup experience. They’re a sleeper team as they pursue their first National Championship since 2012. 

Baylor (+3000)

Baylor received a good draw from the selection committee. They’re another No. 3 seed with North Carolina, Arizona and Alabama as the other top seeds in the West region.

The Big 12 is as tough a conference as you’ll find in college basketball, and they battled hard to place third in the regular season. Houston, Iowa State, Texas Tech, BYU and Kansas all gave Baylor a challenging schedule. They’ll be ready for any team they face in the NCAA tournament from a talent perspective.

Iowa State came away with a win against Baylor in the Big 12 tournament semifinals, but I still like Baylor’s chances in potential matchups against No. 2 seed Arizona and No. 1 seed North Carolina. The Bears are definitely a Final Four contender, and their success as a program over the last five or so years makes them a very attractive pick at +3000.

Elijah Southwick is the lead sports content writer for Degen Magazine. His work has appeared in several news and sports publications

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