Jake’s Takes: March Madness and Navigating the Frenzy of College Basketball’s Biggest Tournament

March 15, 2024

Jake’s Takes: March Madness and Navigating the Frenzy of College Basketball’s Biggest Tournament

In his latest Jake's Takes segment, Jake delves into the exciting race for the No. 1 seeds in the upcoming March Madness tournament, highlighting the intense competition among powerhouse teams. With history as a backdrop and billions at stake in wagers, the stage is set for another unforgettable chapter in the saga of college basketball's most thrilling event.

As Conference Tournament Week arrives, the race for one of four coveted No. 1 overall seeds in the upcoming 2024 March Madness tournament is heating up. Houston has all but locked up one of the top seeds, as they’re 28-3 with 13 Quadrant 1 wins on their resume. For me, UConn and Purdue are basically locks as fellow No. 1 seeds, as they’re both 28-3 as well with several dominant wins on their resume. The last No. 1 seed is a fight between UNC (North Carolina), Tennessee, Kentucky and Arizona, though you’d have to think Arizona is going to be docked by the competition committee for suffering an embarrassing regular season loss to a below .500 USC Trojans squad.

Looking at the other three teams competing for, in my mind, the final No. 1 seed, UNC is probably the favorite to snag it if they end up winning the ACC Tournament. Kentucky has been red-hot as of late though, and that recent surge positions them as a formidable opponent in the SEC tournament. 

The outcomes of the conference tournaments will ultimately decide the allocation of these top seeds, with the landscape potentially shifting drastically before the ever-popular Selection Sunday. At Huddle, we want to give you only the best odds available for betting on March Madness, and best believe we’re going to provide you with a Huddle trading team voted-upon bracket that features who we think is going to perform best in the tournament. 

Some interesting side notes about our presumed number one seeds though. UConn is the defending national champion, a team built with seasoned NCAA tournament veterans and hungry newcomers. Houston is an analytical community favorite, loved by predictive metrics and wizened minds alike. Purdue has Zach Edey, arguably the best player in college basketball, and over a half dozen wins against teams ranked in NET POM’s Top-16. 

Despite all of that… being a No. 1 seed hasn’t been great during the past decade. The last No. 1 seed to win March Madness (on the men’s side) were the Louisville Cardinals in 2013. And that team didn’t even get to keep that win, as it was vacated along with their entire tournament run due to a 2015 sex scandal at the school. Since then, only 4 No. 1’s have even reached the Final Four. 

But then again, that’s why they call it “Madness.” The tournament is unlike anything else in college sports, as it packs a full season’s worth of drama into jaw-dropping moments, future NBA stars, buzzer beaters and heartbreak into a few weeks of action. Unsurprisingly, March Madness is also extremely popular with sports bettors. While the recent Super Bowl will likely be the most wagered-upon American sporting event of 2024, expect March Madness to be a close second.

In 2023, bettors wagered over $15B on March Madness. Why is it so popular? For starters, with 67 games, there’s a lot of action. There’s no shortage of available bets – be it traditional bets, props (if they’re available in your state) or bracket contests. Bracket contests are always extremely popular, even with casual fans, as it’s well-known how hard it is to predict results. By the 25th game of March Madness last year, every perfect bracket was busted. In 2022, brackets were busted on the first Friday of the tournament. In 2021, the 28th game was the furthest a bracket made it. 

One bettor, Gregg Nigl, iconically held a perfect bracket until the Sweet 16 of the 2019 iteration of March Madness, before busting in the 50th game (No. 3 Purdue beat No. 2 Tennessee in OT). That’s verifiably the furthest anyone has ever gotten. And even in that case, he had Gonzaga beating Kentucky in the finals (in reality, UVA beat Texas Tech). 

It’s probably the most popular “bet” made by fans of the sport – an estimated 56 million Americans filled out brackets last season.

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