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Handicapper Ben Rajavuori takes you through the five best bets to win the NCAA March Madness Tournament.

2022 March Madness Predictions: The Five Best Bets to Win the NCAA Tournament

Future bets are one of the most fun bets to make when it comes to the big dance in March. Taking one team (or a few) and then cheering for them round-by-round as they make it to the championship game.

This article will be my top five teams to win it all, and there is a parameter I am using to arrive at these five. Numbers don't lie, and there are many statistics you can use to gain an edge on betting on March Madness.

I am using the following parameters to pick my top five: offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, preseason rating, and current AP top-25 teams.

100% of all championship winners since the NCAA tournament started have all been ranked top 40 in offensive efficiency and top 20 in defensive efficiency. Pretty convincing, right? Additionally, 27 of the last 32 champions (84%) were in the top 11 ranked teams going into the season and ended the regular season in the AP top-25 ranked teams.

These five teams fit every statistic listed. Let's go through them and see who can win March Madness.

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1. Gonzaga +300 (Bet $100 to Win $300)

Perhaps the least surprising team to make the list, Gonzaga is ranked first overall in offensive efficiency and seventh in defensive efficiency. They were also ranked first overall in the preseason rankings and sit first as of today, March 14th. They have cruised through the season with only three losses, even after losing the fifth draft pick, Jalen Suggs, and the 15th overall pick, Corey Kispert. Led by Drew Timme and new-addition Chet Holmgren, this offense is not one you want to be unfortunate enough to match up against in March. They have everything you need from a championship team, including the coaching experience. Mark Few will undoubtedly go down as one of college basketball's best coaches ever. He also hasn't missed a single NCAA Tournament in 21 years (except 2020, but it was canceled), so the tournament experience is there. The players also have championship experience. Six of the current players who log more than 12% of possessions for Gonzaga were on the team last year in the championship game against Baylor. It's safe to say Gonzaga is the safe pick to win it all here.

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2. Texas +10000 (Bet $100 to Win $1000)

On the other side, we have the most surprising team to make the list. Only one six seed has won in the past 37 years since the tournament expanded to 64 teams, and it was Kansas in 1988. So it's safe to say this one is a longshot, but Texas does technically fit the winning parameters. Texas is currently 32nd in offensive efficiency and 13th in defensive efficiency. Texas was also fifth overall in the preseason ranking and currently sits at 22nd. Texas is a solid defensive team, with all five starters being seniors. The experience is there, and they need their playmakers to step up. Transfer Marcus Carr only had seven points on 13 field goal attempts in the Big 12 tournament loss to TCU. The loss of Tre Mitchell also hurts this team, but they have the pieces to make it far. With +10000 odds, Texas is probably the best sleeper pick to win it all this year.

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3. UCLA +1800 (Bet $100 to Win $1800)

Now to my favorite pick to win it all, the UCLA Bruins. UCLA is 15th overall in offensive efficiency and 12th in defensive efficiency. They were just behind Gonzaga in the preseason rankings at number two and currently sit at number 13. This team lost to Gonzaga IN OVERTIME in the Final Four just last year. The brackets are set to have them meet again in the Final Four if they win their Elite Eight matchups. If there were a revenge-game narrative to watch this year, it's this one. All five starters have returned from last year, and UCLA has essentially the exact same team that took Gonzaga to the wire in overtime last year when Gonzaga had two early first-round picks playing. UCLA definitely has all the components to win and could upset Gonzaga this time around to make it to the final.

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4. Baylor +1200 (Bet $100 to Win $1200)

It's no surprise to see the reigning champs on this list. Baylor is 9th overall in offensive efficiency and 14th in defensive efficiency. They were ranked eighth overall in the preseason rankings and currently sit at number three. This Baylor team lost a solid chunk of players from the championship team last year, including Davion Mitchell, Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Mark Vital. They still have a solid team, but I'm not sure if they have all the components to win it all still. The loss of LJ Cryer also hurts, although he could return mid-tournament. Baylor technically fits the winning mold, so I put them in, but I believe UCLA can knock them off in the Sweet 16.

5. Kentucky @ +850 (Bet $100 to Win $850)

Last, but certainly not least, is Kentucky. Kentucky is fourth in overall offensive efficiency and 27th in defensive efficiency (they were top 20 before the conference tournament, so I'm still including them). John Calipari is no stranger to the big dance and has made the Final Four three times since joining Kentucky while winning the championship once in the process. Kentucky had a big bounce-back season after not even making the tournament last year, and it's thanks mostly in part to the best player in the nation, Oscar Tshiebwe. This team is well-balanced and crashes the boards for many second-chance points, which goes far in March. Don't be surprised to see this two-seed make the final four and potentially beat Gonzaga to make the final and win it all.

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Five Best Bets to Win March Madness Overview

The troubling piece of the puzzle here is that four of the five teams I just covered come out of the same region. Still, considering the statistics and facts supporting these teams, I think they are the best five to play to win it all. My favorite pick overall is UCLA, especially at the odds they are listed at. They are the only team that made the Final Four last year that returned all five starters for this year. I hope this guide helps you pick a championship winner for this year.

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Article Author


Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.


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