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Dark-Horse March Madness Betting Contenders

Mark Fordham for Bookies.com

Mark Fordham  | 7 mins

Dark-Horse March Madness Betting Contenders

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There’s only a month left until March Madness commences, so people will be looking for all the information possible to help fill out their brackets and make their college basketball picks. While most of the attention in the coming weeks will be on the top seeds for the tournament that might be good picks to win it all with college basketball betting sites, we want to look at some of the teams capable of causing an upset or two in a month’s time. 

Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic got a well-deserved two-spot jump to 19th place this week in the AP Top 25 after a 70-63 win over Western KY. Before Thursday night, Florida Atlantic was the only program in the NCAA, along with Purdue, to still hold onto a one-loss record. A defeat to UAB will likely see them drop out of the Top 25.

Some experts might wonder why they haven’t got a higher seed with that sort of record. They aren’t higher because their schedule has been kind and they play in the much weaker Conference USA. However, you can only beat what’s in front of you, and Florida Atlantic has certainly provided a lot of beatings this season. 

The Owls have played themselves into form, and winning is a great habit. If they can keep this up for another month – they are likely to be favorites with most US betting apps for their remaining games - it’d surprise no one if they get the better of a more reputed team or two to reach potentially the Sweet 16 or further. Knockout events always throw in a few surprises, and Florida Atlantic has proved this season that it can run an efficient team. It currently has a top-50 offense and top-40 defense nationally.

San Diego State Aztecs

The San Diego State Aztecs finally broke into the Top 25 this week by climbing four places to 22nd after a 72-51 over San Jose state. San Diego has only lost four games so far this season, and two of their losses have come against ranked teams in Arizona and Saint Mary’s. 

The Aztecs always play to a high level, and their standards rarely drop, which makes them a very difficult opponent. They are currently ranked No. 28 in the nation in the KenPom rankings and could go deeper into March Madness than some USA sports betting sites and fans might assume. 

The only concern is that they depend on the entire team to pull through – there isn’t one player who can take it upon himself to score the points that are required in knockout matches. Senior guard Matt Bradley has been their top scorer this season with 13.2 points per game. 

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Gonzaga Bulldogs 

Gonzaga doesn’t look like it will be one of the higher-seeded teams in March Madness after losing four games this season in what is typically regarded as a weaker conference in the West Coast. The Bulldogs recovered since that poor start and are currently No. 12 in the Top 25, but they will almost certainly cross paths with another giant in this league a bit earlier than expected. 

Having been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament four times in the last five seasons, the fact their odds with some sportsbooks is +2800 to win it all, shows how poor this season has been. 

However, almost no team will enjoy facing them because they have got the No. 1 scoring offense in the nation. A large part of that have been the performances of Drew Timme. The forward has averaged 21.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and one block per game to ensure he is a must-have in college basketball player props. Good luck to the player tasked with guarding him during March Madness. 

UConn Huskies  

UConn Huskies are the No. 24 team in the nation at present, but they could be outside the Top 25 by the time March rolls around, leading to a potential No. 5 seed or lower. They were one of the few remaining undefeated teams, along with Purdue, before dropping six of their last nine games. Their drop in form shouldn’t take away from what they can do at full strength – their ceiling is much higher than what they’ve been showing in recent weeks. 

Their offense remains a real strength, but if they can get their defense back to higher standard, they could make some noise at March Madness. With Adama Sanogo in college basketball lineups, they have also got a player who can decide games on his own – he has averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, with a field-goal percentage of 59.5. 

Marquette Golden Eagles 

Marquette looks like it is being ignored a little this season. The Golden Eagles have lost five matches this season and are No. 14 in the nation. They have got some big wins against some high-seeded teams like Baylor, UConn and Providence this season. 

They are No. 8 in the KenPom rankings with the No. 1 adjusted offensive efficiency, and they could well outplay their seeding at March Madness. Having beaten ranked opponents and ran the No. 1 team in the country, Purdue, close earlier this season, they appear built to contend to the later stages of the tournament. 

March Madness has got a reputation for throwing in a few curveballs, with Cinderella teams making it much further than their odds at betting sites suggest, and next month should be no different. 

About the Author

Mark Fordham for Bookies.com
Mark Fordham
Mark spent over a decade as a sports reporter and editor with Goal.com and Bleacher Report. He is now a Content Editor at Bookies.com covering all manner of sports from the Premier League and cricket to the NBA and NFL.