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Three NCAA Tournament longshots worth a look

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March 5th, 2020

The NCAA Tournament is quickly approaching and the national championship futures market presents an opportunity to find value.

If we’ve learned anything from the unpredictability of the NCAA Tournament, it’s that rankings sometimes aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, in a one-game elimination format. That’s why it’s never a bad idea to look beyond the consensus favorites. 

Here are some options down the odds board to consider.

Creighton Bluejays (+2600)

Every now and then, a ranked team is going to face an unranked team and lay an egg. It’s happened before, it will happen again, and the No. 11-ranked Creighton Bluejays know how it feels. They lost by 20 to St. John’s over the weekend. 

If you’re on the fence about Creighton, that result shouldn’t dissuade you. There’s value on the board at BetAmerica.

Before the loss Creighton had won nine of its last 10 games. Ty-Shon Alexander and Marcus Zegarowski are leading the way offensively, and the Bluejays are among the top 20 teams in the country for three-point shooting.  

They’ve also defeated higher-ranked teams, like Villanova and Seton Hall, during their hot stretch last month. 

Virginia Cavaliers (+5000)

Don’t look now, but the defending national champs are rolling. 

The Virginia Cavaliers have won seven straight games, and the run has pushed the Cavaliers back into the AP Top 25.

If you subscribe to the adage that defense wins championships, Virginia is the No. 1-ranked defense in the country, averaging slightly more than 52 points allowed per game. 

They recently shut down No. 7 Duke, which has the third-best offense in the country, in a 52-50 win. (BetAmerica Extra analyst Ashley Anderson called for the upset, by the way.)

The Cavaliers aren’t going to wow anyone with their offense, which ranks dead last in the ACC in points per game, but their defense gives them a shot.

Providence Friars (+10000)

After they were the model of inconsistency earlier in the season and on the bubble for the tournament, the Friars have suddenly turned things in the right direction at the exactly the right time. 

They've won five in a row, a run that includes victories over ranked teams Seton Hall, Marquette, and Villanova. Before losses to Xavier and St. John's in February, Providence also took down ranked Butler and Creighton squads.

The Friars are a longshot for a reason, but recent results should give them confidence heading into the Big East Tournament.


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