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NCAA Tournament No. 1 Seeds: A Lock, Best Value & Bad Bets

NCAA Tournament No. 1 Seeds: A Lock, Best Value & Bad Bets
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A No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament offers prestige to the four programs that can secure them. In theory, it also offers the easiest path to a Final Four.

DraftKings has posted odds on which teams will earn one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. senior handicapper Adam Thompson breaks down the lines and finds the lock, the best bets and two teams to steer clear from as possible No. 1 seeds when March Madness begins.

Odds To Be No. 1 Seeds

Gonzaga -1000
Dayton -305
Baylor -200
San Diego State +100
Kentucky +125
Duke +400
Maryland +550
Oregon +550
Florida State +600
Michigan State +1600
Penn State +1600
Louisville +2000
West Virginia +10000

Easy Money

Kansas -2000

Backing Kansas is a hefty price in college basketball betting, but it’s hard to imagine the Jayhawks not finishing as a No. 1 seed. They’ve won 17 in a row, split with top challenger Baylor in the Big 12 and is one win from clinching a 15th regular-season Big 12 title in 16 years. KU could lose two more games (at Texas Tech in its regular season finale and in the Big 12 Tournament) and still end up as a No. 1.

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High Value

San Diego State (+100)

The Aztecs have been even more impressive than the Dayton Flyers, and are the nation’s only team with just one loss. But their strength of schedule ranks even lower than Dayton’s. They have impressive wins over Iowa and Creighton to point to. If San Diego State runs through the Mountain West Tournament — as strongly expected — it’s hard to envision a legit one-loss team being shunned.

Florida State (+600)

Florida State and Louisville will battle for the ACC regular-season and tournament titles. If one wins both, it could get a No. 1 seed.
Florida State and Louisville will battle for the ACC regular-season and tournament titles. If one wins both, it could get a No. 1 seed.

The ACC regular season is a three-team race between Duke, Louisville and Florida State. Like the situation in the Big Ten, a regular season and tournament title in the ACC could warrant jumping over a Dayton or San Diego State into a top-four spot. ESPN Bracketology has FSU has a No. 2 and Duke and Louisville on the No. 3 line. The Cardinals and Seminoles have the inside track at regular-season glory. FSU beat Louisville twice this season. It’s 0-1 vs. Duke but could get another chance in the ACC Tournament and the Devils have been slipping lately. If the winner of that possible matchup faces off in an ACC semifinal and ultimately wins the tournament, a No. 1 seed is in play.

Michigan State (+1600)

The Spartans at one point were the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. They were also unranked at one point. To be sure, MSU’s 20-9 record right now does not have the look of a top seed. But it has an elite-level strength of schedule, and could still win the Big Ten title. In the computer rankings that are often used to determine power rankings, Michigan State is among the most consistent, in the No. 4-7 range, and higher than Big Ten challenger Maryland. If the Spartans close out with a share of the Big Ten title then take the tournament, they have a real chance.

Too Risky

Baylor (-200)

Baylor has dropped just two games in the Big 12, but both were in the last two weeks and one was to TCU, a team not in contention for the Big Dance. A defeat by a sub-.500 Washington team early in the season won’t help. The Bears may have to get past Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament to secure a top seed, and the way both teams are playing down the stretch, the odds are too low to back them on a bubble like that.

Dayton (-305)

The Flyers have just two losses and have run roughshod over the Atlantic-10. But they have no headline-worthy non-conference victories to put on the resume. They’re in that fringe area between getting the fourth No. 1 seed and being a No. 2. But even running the table may not be enough; they could get leapfrogged by the Big Ten or ACC champion.

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