March Madness Betting Tips – Best Value Bets for Each Region

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament field is set, and the committee clearly had a sense of history. They have three of last year’s Final Four in the same region: Florida Atlantic, San Diego State and the defending champion UConn Huskies all are placed in the East Region.

Can history repeat for one of those schools? Wanna bet on it?

All four regions present intriguing options for betting on the NCAA Tournament, and we’re here to identify a value play for each region.

SOUTH: Houston to the Final Four, +140

Best NCAA Bets
Image: Twitter/Joseph Duarte

The Houston Cougars were trounced last Friday by Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament and have been stewing ever since.

Coach Kelvin Sampson will not rest easy as he prepares his leaders, guards Jamal Shead and LJ Cryer, to jump on opponents from the opening tip.

This is the region’s No. 1 team, and with a suffocating defense that rarely takes a break, the Cougars are ready to put together a strong run.

The South No. 2 seed, Marquette, needs its star, Tyler Kolek, to be 100% by the time the expected matchup with Houston arrives.

Kolek, out with an oblique injury for the past six games, has been practicing but these can prove to be nagging injuries.

If Kolek can’t be at his best, it’s even easier for the Cougars.

“The plan is for him to play,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart told reporters. “But he’s got to go through a progression this week. And so once we get back on the practice court, we’ll be able to continue that progression.”

Doesn’t sound overly encouraging, and Marquette must first survive three games before the possible matchup with Houston.

Nope, the road for the Cougars is not terribly daunting, with the Nos. 3-5 seeds Kentucky, Duke and Wisconsin, respectively, likely to have their vulnerabilities exposed if they meet Houston.

Houston to the Final Four (+140) is available at BetOnline.

MIDWEST: Tennessee to the Elite Eight, +135

Best NCAA Bets
Image: Twitter/BigBlueCarti

This region’s No. 1 seed, Purdue, also suffered a setback in its conference tournament, but, unlike Houston, appears easier to figure out.

Purdue’s Zach Edey, the likely National Player of the Year, is 7ft4 and requires serious attention.

But there are several ways to scheme against the Boilermakers, and we’re betting one of the opponents unlocks the answer to beat them.

That leaves the Tennessee Volunteers (No. 2 seed) as the team likely to step into the void and reach the Final Four, with competition possibly from No. 3 Creighton, No. 4 Kansas, and possibly No. 5 Gonzaga.

Vols coach Rick Barnes is a veteran leader who has been to a Final Four and has been successful in the nation’s most competitive conferences through the years.

Critics point to Tennessee’s inability to finish games in the past, but the Volunteers added clutch scorer Dalton Knecht this season.

Knecht has proved his worth, winning conference Player of the Year honors and scoring 21.4 points per game complemented by 40% shooting from 3-point range.

As a team, the Vols have the ingredients necessary for NCAA Tournament success: great defense (top 10 in several defensive ranking metrics) and veteran players who take care of the ball (first in the Southeastern Conference in fewest turnover percentage).

Just to be safe (Edey could make this pursuit his personal mission and simply dominate everyone), we’ll stop short of guaranteeing a Final Four berth and invest in Tennessee to at least reach the Elite Eight.

Tennessee to the Elite Eight (+135) is available at BetOnline.

WEST: North Carolina to the Final Four, +325

Best NCAA Bets
Image: Twitter/InsideCarolina

The bookmakers really slapped the selection committee for making North Carolina the No. 1 seed in the West.

As of Monday, Arizona was virtually a consensus favorite to win the region and stood at +240 at BetOnline.

North Carolina was pegged as the +325 second choice.

Instead of calling it a bad decision, we’re calling it an opportunity.

The Tar Heels have been struck down several times, and the disrespect has to be gnawing at the team.

After missing the NCAA Tournament entirely last season (they were the top-ranked team in the preseason polls), North Carolina assembled a stellar rotation.

RJ Davis and Armando Bacot know that they can’t stumble this month – and a good deal of assistance from Stanford transfer Harrison Ingram and Notre Dame transfer Cormac Ryan will be required.

Arizona showed its weaknesses in falling to Oregon at the Pac 12 Tournament; the Wildcats are a shaky best bet in the West, for sure.

Take the Tar Heels to take down Arizona – and that’s if Arizona survives its three games before a potential No. 1 vs No. 2 showdown for a spot in the Final Four.

North Carolina to the Final Four (+325) is available at BetOnline.

EAST: UAB Blazers +7.5 points vs San Diego State

Best NCAA Bets
Image: Twitter/NickyCashin

With UConn a heavy favorite to capture the East, and with very good reason, we’re going to look for first-round value (though a bet on UConn to win the region is not careless).

Guys named Yaxel, Efrem and Alejandro provide the foundation for the University of Alabama-Birmingham, a team on the rise as the NCAA men’s basketball tourney begins.

Lendeborg, Johnson and Vasquez, respectively, are capable of leading the Blazers in any given game, and UAB has won nine of its past 12 games.

At the American Athletic Conference Tournament, Vasquez delivered 29 points to help UAB stop Temple and win the automatic NCAA Tournament berth.

He hit five of his six attempts from 3-point range, raising his season 3-point shooting to almost 40%.

Lendeborg leads UAB in scoring (13.9 points per game), blocked shots (2.1) and rebounding (10.7), while Johnson combines with Eric Gaines to bring a formidable offensive attack.

Gaines leads the team in assists and steals as the primary ball handler.

When UAB meets No. 5 seed San Diego State Friday in Spokane, Wash., sports betting fans will have the 12-seed trend in mind (of the four 12-seeds in the tourney each year, one has won, on average, in each tournament over the past two decades).

This is the 12 vs 5 game to bet, especially because San Diego State carries some unearned credit for having reached the Final Four last season.

The Aztecs are a 7.5-point favorite over the Blazers, so we like having that kind of cushion just in case the outright upset doesn’t happen.

UAB Blazers +7.5 points vs San Diego State is available at BetOnline.

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Jay Dieffenbach
Sports Betting Expert

Jay is a Sports Betting Writer at, and has been working in US sports for more than 20 years. He's worked for Daily Racing Form, the Arizona Republic, The Athletic and FanDuel among other sports and gambling positions.