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NCAA Tournament 2016: Champion Odds, Pick, Predictions, Dark Horses - 3/15/16

NCAA Tournament 2016

March 15, 2016

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While you’re trying to fill out your brackets and pick who is going to win the 2016 national championship, it’s time to take a look at some of the dark horses to cash in on. Forget North Carolina, Kansas and Michigan State, we’re looking at some of the true dark horses who have a shot to cut down the nets.

Here are some teams to put a little cash on before the tournament tips off on Thursday.

NCAA Tournament 2016: Champion Odds, Pick, Predictions, Dark Horses - 3/15/16

USA TODAY Sports

Miami Hurricanes - I love the Miami Hurricanes this season, especially when you can get them with odds of +5300. Miami has bigs in Tonye Jekiri and Kamari Murphy, guard play in Angel Rodriguez, shooters in Davon Reed and a coach in Jim Larrañaga who has experience winning championships. The Hurricanes are deep, big and super athletic, sure to give teams problems along the way. Miami has proven it can play with any team in the country competing in the tough ACC. The Canes are one of my favorite bets on the board.

Duke Blue Devils - Name a better 1-2 punch in the country than Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram? Don’t worry, I’ll wait. There is none. Those two guys are the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of college ball, and can takeover a game with the best of them. Oh, and Luke Kennard has emerged as somebody who can chip n 20 points as well. Duke overall shoots 46 percent from the field, 72 percent from the free throw line and nearly 39 percent from beyond the arc. When those shots are falling, it’s damn near impossible to beat the Blue Devils. Duke only needs to get hot for a few games to cut down the nets again. Duke’s elite duo is good enough to pound odds of +3300.

Oklahoma Sooners - While we’re on the subject of players who can take over, it doesn’t get much better than Buddy Hield. Hield is the best player in college basketball, and it’s going to take an army to stop him from getting a title in his last season at Oklahoma. Also, if you think the Sooners are a one-man team, think again. Isaiah Cousins is one of the best three-point shooters in the country, Ryan Spangler is a terrific inside-outside player and Jordan Woodard has scored double-digit points in six of his last nine games. Yes, Oklahoma is a jump shooting team and it only takes one off night to end the run. However, getting Hield and company at +1600 odds is a little tough to pass up.

Connecticut Huskies - Death, taxes, UConn in March. Over the last decade, the Connecticut Huskies have been the most successful team in the NCAA Tournament. Also, the Huskies past two championships have come when people least expected it, which includes when they won it as a seven-seed a couple of seasons ago. This year UConn doesn’t have a Kemba Walker or Shabazz Napier, but a trio of Shonn Miller, Rodney Purvis and Daniel Hamilton is nothing to sneeze at. UConn is the best free-throw shooting team in the country at 78.7 percent and is one of the best defensive teams in the country, holding teams to 38.2 percent shooting from the field. UConn always plays its best ball in March, and a AAC championship proved this year will be no different. I don’t love Connecticut's seeding with a potential matchup against Kansas in the second round, but we’ve seen bigger surprises in the past. Besides, odds of +10000 provides plenty of room for hedging.

California Golden Bears - The California Golden Bears have lost just two games since February and have shown flashes of brilliance during that stretch. There may not be a team in the tournament with more NBA talent, as Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb and Tyrone Wallace are all potential first rounders. The Golden Bears have five players averaging double-digit points, and they’re shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc. California also has four players averaging at least five rebounds per game. In terms of overall talent, Cal can go toe-to-toe with any team in the country. I really like the odds of +6500 with the team out West.

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