Sixteen teams remain in the 2023 March Madness men’s college basketball tournament after one of the most thrilling opening rounds in the last two decades. According to DraftKings, Alabama is the betting favorite to win the national championship with +350 odds, and Houston is close behind at +360 odds.
Alabama and Houston are the only remaining #1 seeds among the Sweet 16. Purdue was shockingly defeated by #16 seed Fairleigh Dickenson in the opening round, marking the greatest single upset in March Madness history.
Kansas entered the tournament as the defending champion, and earned the #1 seed in the West regional. However, they were eliminated by #8 Arkansas in the second round.
Sweet 16 Team
San Diego State
Princeton is the only #15 seed to make it to the Sweet 16, making them the third team from the Ivy League to reach this milestone. For the third consecutive tournament, a #15 seed has upset a #2 seed in the opening round. Princeton is the long shot on the board at +18000 odds to win March Madness.
Alabama Crimson Tide +350
Alabama entered the tournament with a 29-5 record and was ranked #1 in the country according to the final AP poll of the regular season. In the last game of the regular season in early March, Alabama lost to Texas A&M; however, they have not lost since then, bouncing back with three victories in three days to win the SEC conference tournament. Alabama defeated Texas A&M in the SEC championship game with a 19-point revenge win.
When March Madness began, Alabama didn’t break much of a sweat in a 21-point win over #16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the opening round. They failed to cover the point spread at -24.5 with most of their starters getting significant rest in the second half. Freshman forward Brandon Miller, Bama’s leading scorer this season averaging 19.1 points per game, was held scoreless in only 19 minutes of action.
In the second round, Alabama coasted to another easy victory with a 22-point win against #8 Maryland. Senior guard Jahvon Quinerly led all scorers with 22 points, and Miller bounced back with 19 points.
Alabama plays #5 San Diego State on Friday in the Sweet 16, and they are installed as a -7.5 favorite.
When March Madness began, Alabama was second on the futures board at +800 odds to win the championship. After the first round, their odds improved to +450. Heading into the Sweet 16, Alabama took over the top spot on the board at +350.
Houston Cougars +360
The biggest concern for Houston is injuries. Senior guard Marcus Sasser sustained a groin injury in the AAC conference tournament. Head coach Kelvin Sampson gambled by starting Sasser against #16 Northern Kentucky in the first round. Sasser scored five points in 14 minutes, but he sat out the entire second half with groin tightness. Northern Kentucky put up a decent fight and Houston only won by nine points. They failed to cover the point spread as a -19.5 favorite.
In the second round, Houston defeated #8 Auburn by 17 points even though they trailed by 10 points at halftime. Houston outscored Auburn 50-23 in the second half to advance to the Sweet 16. Sasser scored 22 points in 31 minutes including five 3-pointers.
Sasser will get six days of rest before their next game against #5 Miami in the Sweet 16 on Friday. Houston is a -7 favorite, and they only covered the spread twice in their last eight games.
Houston began March Madness as the consensus favorite to win the tournament at +550 odds. They retained the