It’s been years since the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament had such a clear frontrunner as it does in 2015 with the #1 overall seed Kentucky.
The 34-0 Wildcats haven’t lost a game since last April when they fell to Connecticut in the National Championship. Now they’re looking to become the first team to go undefeated and win the men’s title since the Indiana Hoosiers did it back in 1976.
If Vegas has any say, Kentucky is about as much of a sure thing as it gets. Coach John Calipari’s team is nearly even money according to the majority of sportsbooks to finish as the lone survivor of March Madness.
Of course, that isn’t a real attractive bet for most gamblers as the tournament is notorious for bracket busting. That isn’t to say Kentucky won’t win, because the experts say it’s as likely to happen as to not, but for gamblers more attractive wagers are present.
Why Kentucky Will & Won’t Win
Why Kentucky will win:
Since the 1989-1990 season, only four No. 1 AP poll teams entering the tournament have gone on to win. Duke (1992), UCLA (1995), Duke (2001), and Kentucky (2012). Four times in a quarter-century doesn’t sound like strong odds, but keep in mind Calipari did it just three years ago.
The Kentucky coach is one of the best in the game. In Calipari’s six years at Kentucky, he’s 186-37, with three trips to the Final Four.
Kentucky entered the season ranked #1 in both the AP and Coaches polls and has not stumbled once.
They won two overtime games, including one double OT thriller, meaning the team won’t fold under the pressure of the NCAA tournament.
Why Kentucky won’t win:
Because they haven’t lost. Many basketball pundits believe Kentucky would be better off entering the tournament with a loss. The pressure of being an undefeated #1 is only doubled, with media and fans alike not hoping for a title but expecting one.
The top seed doesn’t win the tournament. In the past 10 years, the overall #1 seed has won the title just twice. UConn, the 2014 champs, was a #8 seed.
It’s the NCAA tournament, and it’s total madness. The only thing expected is the unexpected.
What Math & Science Says
With oddsmakers saying Kentucky is most likely to win, more of your office pools will have entries with the Wildcats taking the title. That means to win the pool, you’ll need to get creative with earlier round picks and make more-risky choices like taking the #12 over the #5, a common upset game.
This is where theory kicks in. To win a tournament pool in 2015, players need to pick low to medium-odds winners in select games.
“It often pays to be contrarian,” Andrew Metrick, a Yale professor of finance and management said. “You want to take good bets that others don’t want: stocks that are out of style for behavioral reasons and basketball teams that are good but may not have the most fans.”
According to Metrick’s line of thinking, choosing Kentucky to win it all wouldn’t be the most sound bet for a gambler looking to win a pool. Most game theorists advise to take Kentucky to the Final Four, but then choose another high seed team to win the title.
Top 5 Teams to Win 2015 National Championship: