The Midwest region of the NCAA Tournament seems to be tailor-made for a Kentucky Wildcats trip to the Final Four. The nation’s undisputed top team drew the weakest region and most vulnerable #2 seed in the Kansas Jayhawks. There are a handful of teams that could give the Wildcats a game, but Kentucky projects to be a double-digit favorite until the Elite Eight and could wind up being one there are well depending on the matchup.
The one thing to notice about this region is that there are a handful of jump shooting teams that need to string together consistent shooting efforts to be effective. Notre Dame is a very dangerous #3 seed in this region and they should be able to make it to the Sweet 16 without a whole lot of trouble. Butler doesn’t have the talent to match up and Texas would be outcoached in a big way. The Selection Committee found a new way to try and screw over the Wichita State Shockers by giving them a first round matchup against the enigmatic Indiana Hoosiers, followed by a second round game against Kansas.
The 5 vs. 12 matchup has major upset potential with the West Virginia Mountaineers against the Buffalo Bulls. The Bulls are a disciplined team with an up-and-coming coach in Bobby Hurley. West Virginia is extremely reliant on jump shooting, which makes them a hard team to back. The flip side is that the Mountaineers can give just about anybody a game if their shots are falling. The health of Juwan Staten is a big deal for the boys from Morgantown, so be wary of that.
Here’s a look at the odds to win the region courtesy of 5Dimes:
Notre Dame +900
Wichita State +1000
West Virginia +4000
New Mexico State +100000
The important thing to remember about futures is that the best-case scenario is winning it, but the optimal strategy to take is to guarantee profit. It’s going to be very difficult to do in this region because Kentucky will be a sizable favorite in the Elite Eight over anybody from the bottom of the bracket. Notre Dame is a good value at +900 because they have a very good shot at navigating through this bracket into the Elite Eight. Kentucky would likely be close to a 10-point favorite in that game, however, so hedging is tough to do. As you can see, one of Notre Dame, Wichita State, or Kansas is expected to come out of the bottom of the bracket. Pick your team and take a shot.
Don’t sleep on the West Virginia Mountaineers. If anybody in the top half of the bracket can knock off Kentucky, it’s going to be West Virginia. They have the highest upside of the teams in Kentucky’s half of the Midwest region. At +4000, there’s some value if they can get past that game because they’ll be in decent shape in the Elite Eight round. It doesn’t appear as though Kentucky will be beaten, but +4000 is a higher number than you will get on the individual game.
Something that often gets overlooked is rolling over the money line instead of playing a future. This would be more profitable with West Virginia than a straight future. To give you some kind of an example of this, say you bet $195 to win $100 against Buffalo. The Mountaineers would likely be a small favorite or a pick ‘em against Maryland. So your bet size becomes $295 to win X amount of dollars. Let’s say, hypothetically, the game was a Maryland -1 and you got even money on West Virginia money line. Your rollover amount would be up to $590. The Mountaineers will likely be in the +700 range or so against Kentucky, if not higher. Instead of sitting at capped winnings with a $100 to win $4,000 on West Virginia, you can continue to escalate your earning potential the further the team goes in the field.
Futures are never representative of the true odds. Don’t ever forget that. If you’re set on taking a team for a futures play and it makes sense to roll over the money line, keep doing that.
Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of value in the Midwest region with the Wildcats sitting pretty as an overwhelming favorite. They got a favorable draw in this region and should make their way into the Final Four with relative ease.
Kyle Hunter is the #1 Ranked College Basketball Handicapper in the Past 5 years. Up a combined 92 units in that time! All plays documented. Kyle’s March Madness All Access Pass is only $250.
Predictions for other Regions