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Which Team is the Favorite to Win March Madness?

Which Team is the Favorite to Win March Madness? | Tipico
Which Team is the Favorite to Win March Madness? | Tipico
Alex Valdes
Published: 2023-02-23

It’s that time of year again. Football season is officially over and New Year’s resolutions are falling by the snow-piled wayside. Somewhere in the back of your mind you know you should probably start worrying about your taxes.

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Tax season and March Madness have a few things in common: Ws and brackets, a sense of anxiety. When it comes to March Madness, though, somebody actually gets to win.

So let’s talk projected winners and losers, and maybe you’ll get to win a little something too. What factors do we look for in a winning team, and who do we have down as our favorite to win March Madness? It’s all here, along with everything you need to build a winning strategy for your March Madness bets.


When picking a team to win it all, lots of bettors go solely off intuition, trusting their sense of a team’s “intangibles” to win big and make their March Madness predictions. You know the type. “No, no—I’m telling you, Gonzaga’s gonna bring it home this year, I can feel it.”

Making an informed bet by considering certain factors like a team’s SOS (strength of schedule) will put you in a better position than anyone going off of intuition alone to get better March Madness betting odds.

In particular, these are the factors you should take into account when making a pick:

  • Experience – Simply put, teams with experience on the big stage are less likely to surprise you when their moment arrives. For your March Madness betting, look for teams with recent visits to the Final Four, along with teams that are led by players with multiple seasons of college basketball under their belt. 

  • NET Rankings – Since 2018, the NCAA has used NET rankings instead of their traditional RPI (Rating Percentage Index) in order to sort out team ranking and determine tournament seeding. This can be a better indicator of a team’s ability than their overall record, since it accounts for factors like their opponents’ rankings and wins at home vs. on the road. So, be sure to look up the highest seed to win March Madness as well as the lowest seed to win March Madness when placing your bets. 

  • Other Stats – If you’re a stats aficionado (i.e., you know what “KenPom” means), feel free to disregard the bullet above and resume furiously punching numbers into your calculator for sports betting. If not, we’d advise you to stick to the top 3 seeds and trust that the NCAA committee members (and the excellent oddsmakers here at Tipico) have done the number-crunching for you.


This season of college basketball has come with some big surprises and a few disappointments. Houston, a team with 0 national titles to its name, is suddenly looking like the team to beat with a 23-2 record as of Valentine’s Day (and a staggering 8-0 record on the road). Meanwhile, Purdue (another team with no titles in the modern era) stands at 23-3.

The Kansas Jayhawks, perennial favorites, have hit some hitches in the road with the departure of a few of the talented hoopers who helped bring home the title last year, but they remain competitive with a 20-5 record, tied with Texas in the Big 12 at the time of writing.

With a chance to outdo their title-happy counterparts in the football program, Alabama rounds out this year’s list of title-less contenders, holding a healthy lead in the SEC with a record of 22-3.


What would March Madness games be without a couple of stunning upsets? Before we move on to our favorite teams to win it all on April 3, let’s plot out some of our favorite underdogs that could turn the March Madness odds in their favor based on their surprising performances in the season so far:

  • Indiana Hoosiers – The Hoosiers have already made headlines this season after upsetting Purdue, their rivals in the Big Ten. Based on current projections they might land around a 4th or even a 3rd seed in the tournament. Not bad for a program that hadn’t been to a March Madness game for 6 years prior to last year’s exit in the round of 64.

  • Creighton Bluejays – Creighton has managed to stabilize after a rocky stretch in late November and early December that saw them drop 6 straight games. With things heating up in the Big East, the Bluejays certainly look to be surging at the right time.

  • UCLA Bruins – UCLA rarely plays David to other teams’ Goliath, so it feels a little strange to include them here. Still, with what looks to be a likely 2nd seed placement before entering the tournament on March 14th, don’t be surprised to see UCLA finish even higher than their seeding might suggest.  With the season Jaime Jacquez is currently having, this team’s ceiling looks to be even higher than the roof over Pauley Pavilion.


We’ve laid out some of the best performers in the season so far and shown some wary appreciation for the scariest-looking sleeper picks going into March. With all that out of the way, who are the outright favorites to win March Madness?

As laid out above, we’ll be looking at teams with the experience to hold steady against potential March Madness upsets and a statistical profile that denotes true contender status. Let’s be honest: A lot of teams look scary this year. But here are three that look to be a cut above the rest.

#1 Houston Cougars

We know, we know. The Cougars have never won a National Championship game. But it’s crucial to stress that this team isn’t some plucky upstart.

After a long stretch of forgettable seasons following back-to-back appearances in the ‘83 and ‘84 National Championship Games, Houston has revived its title hopes under the helm of Kelvin Sampson. Since signing on as head coach in 2014, Sampson has led the Houston Cougars to a 199-70 record, culminating in 4 NCAA tournament appearances and 3 conference titles.

Houston reached the Elite Eight last year after defeating a top-seeded Arizona in the Sweet Sixteen. But this year is arguably the best they’ve looked since the departure of Quentin Grimes in the offseason after 2021’s Final Four appearance.

With NET and KenPom rankings currently holding steady at number 1, a solid mix of experienced veterans and young talent, and the hunger to bring home their first-ever title, Houston could very well be the favorite to win March Madness.

#2 Alabama Crimson Tide

Whoever said Alabama is a football school? If you (like John Calipari) currently have egg on your face over Alabama’s transcendent season thus far, it’s not too late to replace it with crimson face paint.

If you’re a Crimson Tide fan, there are a couple of reasons to temper your optimism with a bit of caution. After entering last year’s tournament with a 6 seed, Alabama was upset in a first-round matchup against Notre Dame. The year before saw them enter March Madness with a 2 seed only to eventually fall to the 11th-seeded UCLA.

There are also plenty of reasons to throw caution to the wind. The Crimson Tide managed to pull off an upset of their own against John Calipari’s previously alluded-to Kentucky Wildcats back in early January, and they don’t show any signs of slowing down. Their only losses at the time of writing have come against quad 1 and quad 2 opponents.

And after the disappointing conclusion to Alabama’s football season, the basketball program has a real chance to flip the narrative around their school on its crimson head.

#3 Purdue Boilermakers

No team wants to be the reason another school hosted a parade. After starting their season with a perfect 8-0 record and the school’s first-ever No. 1 ranking in the AP’s Top 25 poll, the Boilermakers started to look shaky before the start of last year’s March Madness.

In the tournament, Purdue would join Kentucky as the latest victim of a Cinderella in the making, losing to St. Peter’s in the Sweet Sixteen (and enabling the Peacocks to become the first ever 15 seed to advance to the Elite Eight).

In the offseason, Jersey City threw a parade in the Peacocks’ honor, and Purdue added a dynamic scorer in freshman Braden Smith. All in all, Purdue seems to have fared far better in the aftermath of St. Peter’s upset than their fellow victims in Kentucky. At the time of writing, the Wildcats are 45th in NET ranking. The Boilermakers are 4th.

As of late January, Purdue had the best start to a season in school history, and their offensive engine has shown little signs of slowing in the weeks since. Will early season optimism prove devastating yet again? Or is this the year Purdue proves all the doubters wrong?


You may have noticed a consistent thread through our coverage of recent March Madness history: Upsets. It’s the nature of the thing. The chaos that keeps us glued to our TVs, tablets, and phones all month long.

Building a winning strategy amidst all the tumult can be a challenge, and that’s why Tipico’s here to offer an inside edge. If you’re looking to put a little skin in the game, we’ve got everything you need to stay informed.

Have you locked in your favorite yet? Taxes can wait. (Until April 30th of this calendar year. See? We’ve got you.) Get your game on with Tipico.


NCAA. NET rankings: What to know about college basketball's new tool to help select the NCAA tournament field.

Coaches Database. Houston Cougars basketball history.

Sports Illustrated Purdue Boilermakers News, Analysis and More. Unbeaten Purdue Basketball Takes No. 1 Spot in AP Top 25 Poll, First Time in School History.

ABC7 New York. St. Peter's Peacocks celebrated with parade, ceremony in Jersey City.

Indiana Sports Coverage. 1/23/2023 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: “Best Start Ever” Edition.

ESPN. Men’s College Basketball Standings - 2022-23.

The Daily Hoosier. Bracketology watch: Where IU basketball stands with four weeks to Selection Sunday.

Creighton University. 2022-23 Men's Basketball Schedule.

UCLA. 2022-23 Men's Basketball Schedule.

ABC 13. UH Cougars advance to Elite 8 in NCAA tournament after defeating No. 1 seed Arizona.

Roll Tide Wire. Alabama hoops knocked out of NCAA Tournament by Notre Dame in 78-64 loss.

Which Team is the Favorite to Win March Madness? | Tipico


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