Mar 15, 2023 - Sports

How to fake it: March Madness for Arizona fans edition

A basketball with a bracket pattern

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Need some help picking your brackets for March Madness? We're here to help with some friendly tips and advice.

The big picture: We've got three Arizona teams in the tournament.

Arizona: UofA is the 2-seed in the South region and will face Princeton in the first round.

  • The Wildcats have an explosive offense and are on a roll after beating UCLA for the Pac-12 crown, but they have the misfortune of being in the same region as top overall seed Alabama.
  • FanDuel gives Arizona the second-best odds of making it to the Final Four in its bracket, at +380, meaning if you bet $100, you get $380 for the win.
  • UofA has a three-way tie for sixth place in the betting odds for national champion at +1500.

Arizona State: ASU earned an 11-seed, but must beat Nevada in a play-in game Wednesday to get into the field of 64.

  • The Sun Devils are 2.5-point favorites over Nevada.
  • If they win the play-in game, they'll face 6-seed TCU in the first round.
  • An 11-seed is an underdog in the first round, but not by much — according to DraftKings, they've won 37.5% of their games since 1985, and more than 53% of their games since 2014.

Grand Canyon University: In their second tournament appearance in three years — and second overall since joining the Western Athletic Conference — GCU is a 14-seed, and faces 3-seed Gonzaga in the first round.

  • GCU is a 15.5-point underdog against Gonzaga.
  • A 14-seed has won a first-round game in 19 of the past 36 tournaments.

Zoom in: It's tempting to pick all chalk when filling out your bracket, but the real excitement is choosing the upsets in the early rounds.

  • At least one 12-seed almost always beats a 5-seed in the first round, and the best odds this year are Drake over Miami, which is only favored by 1.5 points.
  • If you're looking for something more exotic, Kent State has the best odds of a 4-over-13 upset, and is only a 4.5-point underdog to Indiana.
  • Montana State is an 8.5-point under to Kansas State, which are the best odds any 14-seed has this year.

Zoom out: Alabama, Purdue, Houston and Kansas are the betting favorites to get to the Final Four, but it's extremely rare for all four 1-seeds to make it.

  • Few experts are picking against Alabama, but in other brackets, there's a lot of love for 2-seeds Marquette and Texas, 5-seed Duke,

Jeremy's thought bubble: As much as I'd love to pick UofA to go all the way, I have them going out in the Elite Eight — my Final Four is Alabama, Duke, Houston and UConn, with Houston over Alabama for the championship.


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