The 2014 NCAA Tournament field is set, meaning it’s officially time for one of the most exciting sports betting opportunities to begin. What’s especially fun about wagering on the NCAA Tournament is all of the Cinderella teams. Some of these underdogs are capable of huge upsets, which means big money to those who guess right on the moneyline and point spreads. This being said, let’s check out five Cinderella teams (7 seeds or lower) that could make deep runs and earn you some major cash with March Madness betting.
1. Oregon Ducks (23-9 record, 7 seed in West) – Few teams have been more up and down than Oregon this season. They started the year 13-0, achieving a top-10 ranking in the process. However, they hit a major downswing after losing eight out of their next 11 games in Pac-10 play. Then, they became one of the hottest teams in the nation after winning seven out of their last eight contests to not only make the tournament, but also grab a fairly good seed. Over the last few weeks, Oregon has done a great job at harassing teams defensively, cutting down on turnovers and converting good looks. Led by UNLV transfer Mike Moser (15.6 PPG, 9.6 RPG), this balanced team should definitely do some damage this month.
2. North Dakota State Bison (26-5 record, 12 seed in West) – We like North Dakota State to be this year’s Florida Gulf Coast. Sure, they won’t be emulating Dunk City (please ignore the picture) nor will they be as exciting as FGCU in last year’s Big Dance. However, the Bison do all of the fundamental things right such as take care of the ball and find the open man. Add in the fact that they have one of the more experienced teams in this year’s tournament and NDSU is poised to surprise some bracketologists. They also feature a solid one-two punch in 6’7″ guard Taylor Braun and post-man Marshall Bjorklund. The Bison’s potential Cinderella run begins with a physical Oklahoma team in the first round.
3. NC State Wolfpack (21-13 record, 12 seed in Midwest) – Few people expected the Woflpack to be dancing, especially with top 25-ranked SMU still alive for an at-large bid. Nevertheless, it’s NC State sneaking into the tournament and SMU relegated to the NIT. So why are we high on a 12 seed who luckboxed their way through the selection committee? A good place to start is with whom NC State plays. They face off against reeling Xavier in the play-in round, a team that’s lost three of their last four. Provided they win, the Wolfpack will go up against a fairly soft 5 seed in St. Louis. Besides who they play, NC State boasts the scoring talents of TJ Warren (24.8 PPG), who’s capable of winning games by himself. Provided Warren has an off-night, he can count on Anthony Barber and Ralston Turner to back him up.
4. Tennessee Volunteers (21-12 record, 11 seed in Midwest) – Like NC State, Tennessee was sort of an iffy decision because they beat just three teams in the RPI top 50. But while they may not have slayed too many Goliath’s, the Vols earn respect because they’re really good on both sides of the ball. Tennessee managed to rank in the top 30 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, plus they’re one of the top rebounding teams in the country. And as many fans/bettors know, controlling the glass and playing good defense creates a great recipe for winning. In addition to their team attributes, Tennessee also has a future NBA’er in Jordan McRae. A 6’6″ senior guard who can do it all, McRae averages 18.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.0 BPG and 37.1% three-point shooting.
5. Providence Friars (23-11 record, 11 seed in East) – It’s almost hard to believe that Providence hasn’t been to the tournament in 20 years. But after a fantastic run through the Big East tourney, including a finals game where they held Doug McDermott and 14th-ranked Creighton to just 17 first-half points, the Friars are dancing. Most expect their dance to end early against a high-profile North Carolina team. But we think that they’re a team that’s capable of upsetting anybody in the tourney because they’re not afraid to take chances. When they played Creighton, for example, coach Ed Cooley used a zone defense against one of the best-shooting teams in the nation. One more reason to like Providence’s chances of winning a game or more is Bryce Cotton, their incredible senior guard, who averages 21.4 PPG, 5.8 APG and 1.0 SPG.