The biggest variable of the NCAA tournament for any team, one that is largely out of their hands, is where it gets put in the bracket.
A change up or down a seed line has a huge effect on a team's path to the Final Four. Not all seeds are equal, too. Ask any team if they'd rather be in Michigan's region or Gonzaga's region this season.
If you like playing the futures market in college basketball, you either have to hope your team gets a good draw or wait until the bracket is revealed. For those still looking to place a bet on a team to win it all in a few weeks, here are the five teams that were affected most, for better or worse, by their draw (with odds to win the NCAA championship from BetMGM):
Worse: LSU (+5000)
Yahoo Sports' Michael Lazarus had LSU as a No. 6 seed on his big board. Most bracket projectors had LSU no lower than a 7 seed. Instead, the Tigers got a No. 8 seed, get a tough first-round matchup against St. Bonaventure (LSU opened as just a 1.5-point favorite) and then if they win that, a game against No. 1 seed Michigan. Had the Tigers gotten BYU's No. 6 seed, they'd face Michigan State or UCLA coming off a First Four game and then overseeded Texas. That's a huge difference, and it turns a talented LSU team from a fun long shot to one to ignore in the futures market.
Better: Alabama (+2000)
The No. 1 seed with the most questions is probably Michigan. The Wolverines had a great season, but when Isaiah Livers suffered a stress fracture in his foot, it removed arguably UM's most valuable player for perhaps the whole tournament. If Livers doesn't return in the tournament, No. 2 seed Alabama has an easier path. Texas, the No. 3 seed in that region, was only No. 26 in KenPom's rankings and overseeded after winning the Big 12 tournament. Alabama was already good value at +1600, given its status as the No. 5 overall team on the selection committee's overall seed list. The Crimson Tide is the strongest No. 2 seed in the committee's opinion. After they got a favorable draw, they might be the best value on the board.
Worse: Iowa (+1400)
Iowa is tied for the fifth-best odds at BetMGM, but they got what every No. 2 seed candidate was hoping to avoid: Being stuck in Gonzaga's bracket. Having a potential Sweet 16 game against USC isn't ideal either, because Trojans freshman phenom Evan Mobley could be a tough matchup for Iowa star big man Luka Garza. Iowa is very good, especially on the offensive end, and it can make a run. But its draw did Hawkeyes no favors.
Better: Gonzaga (+275)
It's hard to believe the Bulldogs could look even stronger to win the NCAA tournament than they already were, but their region is full of teams they have already beat or shouldn't threaten them too much. Assuming Gonzaga doesn't pull a 2018 Virginia, their second-round matchup will be either Oklahoma or Missouri, two teams that lost a lot of games down the stretch. Gonzaga already beat No. 4 seed and potential Sweet 16 opponent Virginia by 23 in the regular season. No. 2 seed Iowa is a mediocre defensive team (which lost to Gonzaga by 11 in the regular season). No. 3 seed Kansas seemed overseeded (and lost by 12 to Gonzaga in the regular season), No. 5 seed Creighton had a controversial end to its season. Maybe No. 6 USC could give Gonzaga a game, but the Bulldogs wouldn't have to worry about that until the Elite Eight.
It's hard to take Gonzaga at such short odds to win it all, but the Bulldogs couldn't have gotten a better draw.
Worse: Loyola Chicago (+4000)
Loyola Chicago was another team that would have been fun to bet as a long shot, to win it all or even to advance to the Final Four. It wasn't a shock the Ramblers were underseeded as an 8, but it hurts their chances of making a run. In the first round, they get Georgia Tech coming off an ACC tournament championship, then No. 1 seed Illinois if the Ramblers advance to the second round. Even if Loyola manages to upset Illinois, it could have to face likely No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State in the Sweet 16. Loyola Chicago could have made another fun tournament run with the right draw, but the Ramblers' probable road through their region might make that impossible.
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