2023 NCAA Tournament top futures bets

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UCONN is a dark horse to win the NCAA Tournament
Connecticut’s Jordan Hawkins (24) shoots against Marquette’s Olivier-Maxence Prosper (12) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game during the semifinals of the Big East conference tournament, Friday, March 10, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Yesterday, we talked through some of our favorite bets for the first round of the NCAA tournament with picks that you can use both for your pools but also for your gambling needs. So today we’ll take a look at some of our favorite futures bets, including teams we think will make the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, or the Final Four at odds that are favorable for betting profit. 

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NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Futures Best Bets

Drake to make Sweet 16 (+475)

We covered Drake in our NCAA tournament first-round best bets piece, so it’s clear we think they make it out of the first round. 

The Bulldogs are one of the strongest 12-seeds in the tournament and face off against a vulnerable 5-seed in Miami, who also is dealing with some injuries. You can read our full breakdown above for why we think Drake is a good first-round bet, but they will also get a good matchup against, most likely, Indiana in round two. 

Indiana has one of the best players in the tournament in Trayce Jackson-Davis, but sometimes their shooting goes cold, and they’re unable to space the floor to let him work inside. Indiana’s inconsistency makes them one of the weaker 4-seeds in the tournament and there’s even a chance they lose their first-round game to Kent State, which would only increase Drake’s chances of making it to the Sweet 16.


San Diego State to make Sweet 16 (+135)

Some people are picking the Aztecs to lose their NCAA tournament first-round matchup against Charleston, but we just think that’s a bad matchup for the underdog. Charleston shoots the 9th-most three-point shots in the country, but San Diego State has the seventh-best three-point defense in the nation, holding teams to 29% from beyond the arc.

So even if the Aztecs are flawed, they should be able to advance to the second round where they could face Virginia, who simply cannot score. They have a great defense but a really poor offense, and we actually predicted that Virginia would lose their first-round matchup to a more explosive offense in Furman. That means San Diego State could play a 13-seed in the second-round, giving it a much better shot of making the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.


USC to make Sweet 16 (+425)

USC may be a 10-seed in the NCAA tournament, but they are the 35th-ranked team in the nation, according to KenPom. They boast a well-rounded team that ranks 43rd in adjusted offense and 44th in adjusted defense and have a tremendously talented player in Drew Peterson. He should be back at full strength after missing time with back issues, but the Trojans also have Boogie Ellis, who’s averaged 24.3 ppg with Peterson out and gives them a potent one-two punch. 

If they’re able to beat Michigan State in the first round then they would get a showdown with a vulnerable Marquette team that had to hold on to beat St. John’s in the second-round of the Big East tournament. 

Creighton is a dark horse in the NCAA Tournament
Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman (55) drives past Xavier’s Colby Jones (3) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game during the semifinals of the Big East conference ncaa tournament, Friday, March 10, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Creighton to make the Elite 8 (+340)

Creighton appears to be massively under-seeded by being a 6-seed despite ranking 13th in the nation in KenPom’s rankings. They boast the 27th-ranked offense and 15th-ranked defense and are capable of making a really deep run thanks to having a great point guard in Ryan Nembhard and a dominant big in Ryan Kalkbrenner.

They should have no problem with NC State in the first round of the NCAA tournament and then will likely face 3-seed Baylor in the next round. Baylor actually ranks 14th in KenPom’s rankings as the Bears are a talented but inconsistent team, so this would be an incredibly even matchup to get to the Sweet 16. 

If they advance there, they would likely see 2-seed Arizona, who only ranks 10th in KenPom, which means they would be a small favorite against the Blue Jays. Arizona plays at the 9th-fastest pace in the country, but if Creighton’s elite defense can slow them down and Kalkbrenner can make the Wildcats think twice about driving into the paint, this is a game that Creighton can definitely win. 

You can also just bet them to make the Sweet 16 at (+125)


UCONN to make the Final Four (+400)

UCONN is another team that feels horribly under-seeded in the NCAA tournament. They rank fourth in the country in KenPom’s rankings. That’s fourth overall in the ENTIRE COUNTRY, but they were given a 4-seed in the tournament. 17 of the past 20 NCAA tournament champions ranked in KenPom’s top six prior to the start of the tournament, so your best bet for a winner appears to be to choose from that grouping. That includes UCONN. 

The Huskies are an incredibly deep team that has the 6th-ranked adjusted offense and 19th-ranked adjusted defense. They struggled right before the New Year, even falling out of the Top 25, but they finished the season on a really good run and if they can take care of the ball, they can be a real threat to win the whole thing. 

For now, we’ll start with just winning the West, which will be tough since a second-round showdown with St. Mary’s will be daunting, but we think Kansas is the weakest 1-seed in the draw (KenPom agrees) and UCLA isn’t coming into the NCAA tournament at 100%, which could give the Huskies a leg up in the Elite Eight. 

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