It’s that time of year again where everyone calls in sick to work for the same illness, March Madness! It truly is one of the most exciting times of the year and this year promises to be one of the more wide open tournaments in recent memory. No team outside of Virginia and Villanova truly set themselves apart as the dominate team this season. But even the Cavaliers and the Wildcats have questions entering the Round of 64. But The Gambler isn’t here to bet the favorites. It would be going out on a huge limb to pick Villanova at 5/1 odds to win the tournament (loads of sarcasm in this sentence). Virginia is about as much fun to watch as watching paint dry with Bob Ross painting happy trees as background noise. In other words they put you to sleep. The Gambler looks for value bets. That could be their odds to win the tournament according to Vegas Insider. It could be their path to the Final 4. Maybe they have a stud player who could get hot and lead his team on a run. Maybe a combination of the three but regardless, these are dark horse teams who could make a run for glory in the coming days and weeks.
ST. BONAVENTURE BONNIES 500/1
The Bonnies enter the tournament as one of the hotter teams in the country and knocked off UCLA in their play in game to make the field. Led by senior Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, these two can really fill up the stat sheet averaging nearly 40 points between the two of them. This team is battle tested too with wins against Rhode Island, Syracuse, Buffalo and Maryland on the season. Their path to the Sweet 16 is pretty straightforward as well. Get past Florida and an overrated Texas Tech squad or a sneaky good Stephen F. Austin team awaits them in Round 2. Purdue will be tough in the Sweet 16 but the Bonnies are hot and could make a run if teams take them lightly as an 11 seed.
STEPHEN F. AUSTIN LUMBERJACKS 1000/1
Speaking of Stephen F. Austin, the Lumberjacks can light it up. Shannon Bogues, Kevon Harris and TJ Holyfield all average double digits and lead a squad that averages 81 points per game. They can also defend too forcing the most turnovers in the nation by a wide margin. They have the same path to the Sweet 16 as St. Bonaventure so there are some definite winnable games in their future. Their Round 1 game against Texas Tech is winnable as the Red Raiders come limping into the tournament after losing 5 out of its last 7 games. Look out for the Lumberjacks as a Cinderella team this year.
NC STATE WOLFPACK 200/1
Finally a team that everyone has heard of and one that would make Jimmy V proud. The Wolfpack closed the season strong winning 5 of their last 6 regular season games before being put out of the ACC tournament in Round 1. But with wins on the year over Duke, North Carolina and Arizona, this team has proven that they have what it takes to make a March run. If they can get by Kansas in Round 2, they have a great shot of getting to the Elite 8 where they more than likely would face Michigan State or a rematch with instate foe Duke. Simply put, this team doesn’t give up, they don’t ever give up.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE JACKRABBITS 500/1
The Jackrabbits are dancing for the 3rd straight year and they are good and I mean daum good. Mike Daum is a monster at 6’9″ 250 pounds and averaging 24 and 10. They also light it up from 3 shooting better than 39% from beyond the arc. Not to mention they have probably the best mascot in the entire tournament. They have a tough matchup Round 1 against Ohio State but this sets up as a classic 12-5 upset. After that the road doesn’t get any easier with potentially Gonzaga then potentially the weakest 1 seed in Xavier. But regardless, this should be a fun team to watch and could make some noise if they can get some shot falling from deep.
The Gambler loves March Madness and if any of these teams make a run, that madness might just turn into mania. These 4 teams are all super longshots but if you let it ride on one or all of them and hit it rich, you’ll know that The Gambler said it here first. Sometimes you got to know when to hold ’em…..