Five best bets on teams to make March Madness: Take a chance on Duke

Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski
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Andrew Ortenberg


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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email

The 2020-21 college basketball regular season is entering its final week, and it’s been a wild ride so far. While the end of the season is always bittersweet, it means March Madness is right around the corner. Last year’s tournament was unfortunately canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this year’s edition will be extra special.

The countdown to Selection Sunday is on, and one of the best gambling events of the year is so close we can taste it. We’ve got all sorts of March Madness content coming, including our team by team previews. One fun prop bet that DraftKings is offering is odds on individual teams to make or miss the tournament, and that’s what we’ll be taking a look at today.

Without further ado, let’s dive into five of the best bets on the board:

Duke Blue Devils to make it to March Madness (+175)

I think the plus-money here is too good to pass up. Duke didn’t look like they had much of a chance a couple weeks ago, but a four-game win streak (including an upset over Virginia) changed all that. They’ve been a great story with their sudden resurgence, and if it’s somewhat of a toss-up at the end, the committee could be swayed by their national brand and the financial implications of them being in the tournament.

Their final two games against Georgia Tech and North Carolina are both winnable, and if they win them both I think they’re in. Even if they don’t, a strong showing in the ACC Tournament should be enough. Momentum matters a ton this time of year, and Duke is peaking at the right time.

Indiana Hoosiers not to make it to March Madness (-125)

ESPN had Indiana as one of their last four in, and then they lost by 16 to Michigan over the weekend. Obviously Michigan is elite, but it was the Hoosiers’ fourth loss in fifth games, and now they’re just 12-12 on the year. Sure the Big Ten is brutal this year and they’ve played a really tough schedule, but I just don’t see the committee letting them in if they’re right around .500.

Iowa is the only top-tier team they’ve beaten this year, so it’s not like they’re flush with signature victories. They’ve slipped in all of the advanced metrics, and can’t buy a bucket right now. Each of their final two games are on the road, at Michigan State and at Purdue. I think they need to win both of those, and I don’t see that happening considering they’ve only won three road games this year. One of them was against Iowa, but the other two were against Northwestern (in double overtime no less) and Nebraska.

Stanford Cardinal not to make it to March Madness (-200)

I think it’ll be a joke if Stanford gets in. They’re currently *70th* on Kenpom, so the advanced metrics say they shouldn’t even be anywhere near the bubble. A team that’s 14-11 while playing in the PAC 12 doesn’t deserve to get in, period. They aren’t in the top 50 of toughest strength of schedules, so they don’t have that excuse. They have that one win over Alabama all the way back in their first game of the season, but they have zero other wins against teams in the top 38 on Kenpom.

Against the top three teams in the conference (USC, Colorado, Oregon), they’re a combined 0-5 with a game against USC on deck in their finale. That game is on the road, and I just don’t see March Madness being in the cards for them.

Colorado State Rams to make it to March Madness (+150)

Colorado State had three weeks of their season wiped out due to COVID-19 issues, causing a lot of people to forget about them. But the committee hasn’t, and I don’t think they’ll hold it against them. ESPN’s latest projections from Friday already had them in the field, and then they crushed Air Force by 23 points in their return to the court on Saturday. They’re 15-4 on the year with all the losses coming in tough spots, and I think the committee respects the Mountain West more than most people realize.

Providence Friars not to make it to March Madness (-335)

This might seem like a steep price, but I’m not that concerned about laying it. The Friars are just 12-11 in a middling year for the Big East, and some of the losses on their resume are really embarrassing. Five of their last six losses have been by double digits, and it’s not like they’ve all been to elite teams. They have one signature win over Creighton, but have failed all their other tests. They lost by 21 to Indiana on a neutral court earlier this year and have a similar record, so I don’t see how they’re supposed to leap-frog them. The only way I see the Friars making it to March Madness is if they win the Big East Tournament.

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