Predicting a long shot to win the NCAA tournament is not a great strategy when filling out a bracket. After all, even as we've seen lower seeds shock their way to the Final Four recently, the champions have not been long shots.
Still, picking a team that features long odds to win the championship, and then laying a few bucks on that team, can be a fun low risk/high reward endeavor.
Have a look at the odds, and then I'll highlight three long shots with big potential.
|San Diego State||65/1|
|North Dakota State||1000/1|
|Field (Any Other Team)||100/1|
Source: Vegas Insider
All odds current as of March 17 at 7 p.m. ET.
The Oregon Ducks could have grabbed a much higher seed than the No. 7 slot in the West, but they were doomed after getting trounced by UCLA in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament.
Against the Bruins, the Ducks were beaten by 29 and suffered their worst loss of the season.
This is not the kind of showing teams like to roll into the NCAA tournament off of. The Ducks, however, can take solace in strong play prior to that clunker.
Oregon ran off seven straight wins heading into the tournament. That included a victory over the No. 1 seed in the West, Arizona.
Oregon has a potent and fast-paced offense. This gives them the ability to run many teams out of the gym. At 18.3 points per game, the Ducks place a lot of emphasis on Joseph Young, but they are not reliant on him.
In all, the Ducks have seven players averaging at least 6.3 points per game.
This is an athletic team that can beat anyone in the nation when its hot.
Cincinnati got little respect for being the AAC champions. They are the fifth seed in the East.
Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin felt his team deserved a higher seeding and that his conference as a whole was undervalued.
"I thought the American Athletic Conference as a whole, I think it would be very obvious to say didn't get a lot of respect from top to bottom," Cronin was quoted by Bill Koch on Cincinnati.com as saying.
Which of these schools presents the best value play?
Although the low seeding makes life a little more difficult for the Bearcats, it also helps motivate them.
"It's Cincinnati against the world," Koch quoted senior forward Justin Jackson as saying. "That's how we look at it."
This is a talented team with a giant chip on its shoulder.
As we've come to expect from the Bearcats, this is a tough and physical team, and they know how to play some defense. The Bearcats allowed an average of just 58.7 points per game this year.
That defense and physical play gives the Bearcats a strong foundation to tournament success.
Arizona State 500/1
There's no denying the Sun Devils standing as a long shot. The No. 10 seed in the Midwest may not win a game.
If current form holds true, they'll be one and down in this tournament. The Sun Devils lost their last three games of the season and five of their last seven.
As Doug Haller of AZCentral.com points out, Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek is not overly concerned about the late form.
"Everybody has a sense of rebirth going into the tournament," Sendek said in a quote provided by Haller. "I don't think the games that were most recently played necessarily carry over. I've done it long enough to see so many stark examples of that."
What leads me to pointing out the Sun Devils is their ability to shoot teams out of games. The Sun Devils shot 38.6 percent from beyond the arc this season. Of their top-seven players in scoring average, only Jordan Bachynski didn't shoot over 33 percent from distance, and Bachynski didn't shoot a three.
That would be because he is the interior presence to balance out all the shooting and space the floor.
The chances are remote, but if Arizona State gets hot, it could go on an extended run.