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The 2023 NCAAB Tournament is almost here! Ben Rajavuori shares his three March Madness picks that he found some early value in. Read on to see what his 2023 March Madness best bets are.
ANALYSIS

2023 March Madness Predictions: Lock in These Early Value Bets for the NCAA Tournament

As February draws closer to an end and teams only have a few games left before conference tournaments, now is a good time to lock in some futures to win it all in March. I have picked three of my favorite teams to get it done in March and will go through them below. Let's get right into it.

2023 March Madness Selection Sunday Start Time and Where to Watch

  • Date: March 12, 2023
  • Time: 6 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: CBS

2023 March Madness Predictions

First, let me preface my picks by saying each of the three teams I picked fit into two categories that have predicted the winner nearly perfectly in the 21st century. The first is holding a top 40 offense and top 22 defense according to offensive and defensive efficiency per Kenpom. This has picked the winner every time for the past 20 years since 2002. These three teams fit under this category at this current moment, but there is a possibility that those changes come tournament time, of course. The second is being ranked inside the top 11 in the preseason rankings but also entering the tournament ranking. 28 of the last 33 champions have fit this bill. All three of these teams were in the preseason top 11 and are currently ranked as well.

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2023 March Madness Picks

Kansas @ (+800) Bet $100 to collect $900 Get the best odds at FanDuel, click here to bet

  • Offensive Rating: 20
  • Defensive Rating: 10
  • Preseason Ranking: 5

This is the obvious pick, but it's hard not to pick them. The Jayhawks are the defending champions, and it is not easy to win back-to-back. Only two teams have won back-to-back championships since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985: Duke (1991, 1992) and Florida (2006, 2007).

Kansas may have lost David McCormack, Christian Braun, and Ochai Agbaji, but they have not skipped a beat this season. The Big 12 is without a doubt the toughest conference in the nation this season, as eight of the ten teams rank inside the top 20 on Kenpom, and six of them sit in the AP top 25, more than any other conference. Despite ranking first overall in strength of schedule, Kansas sits at 23-5 with three games left in the regular season. All five of their losses have come to ranked teams.

Kansas leads the nation in quad-one wins, with a record of 13-5 in their quad-one schedule. No other team has more than nine wins in quad-one games. This speaks to the championship experience of the players, but also elite coaching from Bill Self, and coaching goes a long way in March. Kansas made a few additions to the team in the offseason in senior transfer Kevin McCullar from Texas Tech and freshman sharpshooter Gradey Dick, who has been lighting it up from three. Kansas has the experience, height, good coaching, solid defense, and a balanced offense to win. That's a winning recipe for a repeat.

UCLA @ (+1300) Bet $100 to collect $1,400 Get the best odds at FanDuel, click here to bet

  • Offensive Rating: 24
  • Defensive Rating: 2
  • Preseason Ranking: 8

UCLA was one of my favorite picks to win it all last year, but things didn't pan out for them. UCLA ran into North Carolina in the sweet 16, the team that would go on to lose to Kansas in the championship. UCLA was winning for most of the game, but North Carolina took the lead near the end and won by seven, which was their largest lead of the game. Now, UCLA is back with a vengeance.

When the season started, I didn't think UCLA would be as good as last year, even though they are still obviously a top team in the country still. UCLA lost Johnny Juzang, Myles Johnson, and Jules Bernard in the offseason, which was a massive blow to the team, but Jaime Jaquez and Tyger Campbell are back for their senior season. Despite losing so much talent, UCLA has cruised through the season. They have lost four games all season, with only one being a questionable loss. UCLA's losses are to Illinois, Baylor, Arizona, and USC. USC is the game that I scratched my head at, but USC is still in the top 50 NET rankings, and it was on the road.

UCLA is built off four upper-classmen starters who have been at UCLA forever. The team chemistry is perhaps what makes this team so special, as these guys have been playing together for so long now. The newest addition, Adem Bona, is an impressive freshman who is 6 ft. 10 inches and is shooting 67.5% inside the perimeter on the season. There's not much this team doesn't do well, and UCLA is an extremely well-balanced team entering March. Although they lost to the runner-ups last season in the tournament, I would not be surprised to at least see them in the final four this season and maybe even win it all.

Creighton @ (+3000) Bet $100 to collect $3,100 Get the best odds at FanDuel, click here to bet

  • Offensive Rating: 27
  • Defensive Rating: 11
  • Preseason Ranking: 9

Now for the long shot. Creighton is sitting at 30-1 on most books to win it all, and while the odds surprise me, I understand it. If Creighton doesn't win it all this year, I can almost say with certainty they will win it in 2024 or 2025. The reason I say that is because most of their best players are still underclassmen. The only senior that logs significant minutes is one of my favorite players in the country, Baylor Scheierman. He is a transfer from South Dakota State who can shoot 3's at an insane clip. He is a 39.5% career 3-point shooter, and he's hard to block out behind the arc at 6 ft 7 inches.

Aside from Scheierman, Creighton possesses one of the most lethal men inside the perimeter, who is nearly impossible to stop from getting on the board, Ryan Kalkbrenner. Kalkbrenner is shooting 74% inside the perimeter this season, which ranks fourth in the nation. He is one of the best true scorers in the country, and at 7 ft 1 inch, he is virtually impossible to slow down.

Creighton is very well-rounded. They have perimeter shooters in Trey Alexander and Baylor Scheierman, and they have an elite big in Ryan Kalkbrenner. They are also rated as the top defense in the Big East. They are well coached by Greg McDermott as well. I haven't heard too many people talking about Creighton winning it all, but they are my favorite long shot to win it in March. The only knock on them is a lack of veteran leadership, but that is why I think if they don't win it this year, they will in the next few. Last season, Creighton was knocked out of the tournament by the eventual champions, Kansas, in a game, they lost 72-79. Creighton could be the team to watch out for in March Madness this year.

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Article Author

NCAABBoxing/MMAMLBNHL

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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