The experts pick March Madness winners, tournament favorites and top seeds

The Big Dance: Gonzaga, Kansas Are Ready For The Big Dance Villanova fans have only started calming down from the excitement of that last gasp win against North Carolina in last year’s Big Dance.

Now that March Madness has rolled around again, the tourney is ready to thrill college basketball fans across the country. Rarely have we seen such an exciting denouement in a championship game, with North Carolina storming back to 74-74 with 4.7 seconds left on the clock thanks to an audacious three-pointer from an off-balance Marcus Paige, only to see Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono charge up the court, pass to Kris Jenkins, who won it with a stunning buzzer-beater that sent the crowd into a court storming frenzy.

The entire balance of the NCAA season hung on Jenkins’ final shot.

Experts Choose the Favorites to Win The NCAA Championship

For the first time ever, the NCAA released the top four seeds if the tournament was to start today. In that announcement, Villanova has been named as the overall top seed by the committee, and is one of four regional top seeds along with the Kansas Jayhawks, Gonzaga Bulldogs and Baylor Bears.

Those selections mirror those of the sportsbooks predictions, who have three of the top seeds (Kansas, Gonzaga and Villanova) as favorites to prevail during March Madness and emerge victorious. As of this post, the exact betting odds show that Kansas is the favorite at +850, followed by Gonzaga at +900 and Villanova at +1000.

Here’s Why Villanova, Kansas and Gonzaga are the Experts’ Picks

It is easy to see why they are the favorites to bet on winning the whole shebang. Kansas was the overall top seed last year but ended up losing to Villanova. Since then the Jayhawks have regrouped and had fantastic success by playing small ball, and that has left the fans daring to dream again of a big win. Kansas is on course for a 13th straight Big 12 Championship win and will go into March Madness in supreme form and full of confidence.

Gonzaga has had an astonishing year and it is remarkable to see the team still keeping up an unbeaten record – currently 26-0 – in February. The team thinks this could finally be its year. Gonzaga has gone to March Madness 18 times in a row, but has never made it past the Elite Eight. Leading scorer Nigel Williams-Goss, who heads the division for points, believes it can finally end the hoodoo this year. “I want it bad, I want the national championship bad, to kind of put to rest all the naysayers,” he said. They have a great chance as they are on course to go the regular season unbeaten.

But the committee made defending champion Villanova the top seed for a reason: the Wildcats are dominating the Big East, are unbeaten at home and have an excellent record on the road against quality opposition.

The Rest of the Field

Other top teams include the Kentucky Wildcats at +1200, considered by many to have the finest squad in the country, and Duke at +1400, who were ranked number one pre-season.

There are, however, some interesting long shots if you want a big more value in your picks. The bookmakers do not rate Baylor, and that means you can get great odds on one of the top seeded teams (+2800). Another good place to look for long shots is the Big Ten, where the Wisconsin Badgers, Maryland Terrapins and Purdue Boilermakers are all enjoying strong years. You can get +2800 on Wisconsin, and the Badgers are looking good and heading the standings at 21-4.

The most interesting bet looks to be on Purdue. The Boilermakers have a 21-5 record and are on a run of four straight wins, but you can get odds of +7500. The Terrapins are also all the way out at +7500, despite a strong record of 21-4, and both the Terrapins and Boilermakers can really make a splash at March Madness. The Florida Gators also look interesting at +4000, while those looking for a really wild long shot are looking at Syracuse Orange at +15000. It promises to be a fantastic month of action, and there is plenty of value to be had, with Villanova currently looking a great bet at +1000 and Purdue a nice long shot at +7500.

Here’s the full list of the 16 teams that made the NCAA’s early rankings:

NCAA's Bracket Preview - February 2017
Rank Team
1 Villanova Wildcats
2 Kansas Jayhawks
3 Baylor Bears
4 Gonzaga Bulldogs
5 North Carolina Tar Heels
6 Florida State Seminoles
7 Louisville Cardinals
8 Oregon Ducks
9 Arizona Wildcats
10 Virgina Cavaliers
11 Florida Gators
12 Kentucky Wildcats
13 Butler Bulldogs
14 West Virginia Mountaineers
15 UCLA Bruins
16 Duke Blue Devils

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