March Madness 2023 Outright Winner Longshot Picks To Consider: Bluejays and Tigers Have Enough to Defy the Odds

Feb 14, 2023; Providence, Rhode Island, USA; Creighton Bluejays guard Baylor Scheierman (55) is helped to his feet by center Ryan Kalkbrenner (11) and forward Arthur Kaluma (24) during the first half against the Providence Friars at Amica Mutual Pavilion.
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Sam Avellone


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Long-time suffering Browns fan born and raised in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area who now resides in SEC country. University of South Carolina alum. Sports handicapper for close to 10 years with a primary focus on NCAAB while enjoying NFL, PGA, NCAAF, NBA, and Soccer.

Winning the NCAA Tournament is one of the hardest things to do. Weeks of high-level competition makes for great entertainment, but it is extremely difficult to win 6 games in a row against the top teams in the sport. As such, longshots very rarely are fortunate enough to cut down the nets as champions. In fact, only 3 teams since 2000 have won the NCAA Tournament at 20/1 odds or longer. Why? Well, they are longshots for a reason – some of those teams have flaws like leaky defenses, poor free-throw shooting, or lack of depth. Those flaws rear their ugly head in an intense competition like the NCAA Tournament.

For that reason, the cream tends to rise to the top of the pack during March Madness, as shown by the fact that the last 5 NCAA Tournament champions were #1 seeds with odds under 10/1. If it sounds like I am trying to talk you out of betting a longshot, I am not. I am merely setting expectations to help you and your bankroll over the coming weeks. 

With that being said, let’s dive into this year’s longshots and see which teams have the genetic makeup of a champion. Odds are courtesy of FanDuel.

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March Madness outright winner longshot picks

Creighton Bluejays (+3500)

Creighton would most likely have to go through Arizona and Alabama to get to the Final Four in order to have a chance to win the national championship, but I think that is something this team is capable of. The Bluejays played Arizona earlier this season in a thrilling game at the Maui Invitational. They lost that game by just 2 points, but they were coming off a physical and closely contested win over Arkansas the day before. In their very next game, they hung tight with the Texas Longhorns in Austin and had every chance to win that game. They just could not convert from the perimeter. 

The Bluejays have a top 20 defense in terms of efficiency and defending the three-point line is a strength for them – as they rank 9th in three-point rate allowed. They are also very good at protecting the rim, as they have the 7’1 Ryan Kalkbrenner in the paint to guard against easy shots from close range. Their ability to defend the three-point line and the rim at a high level will be useful against a team like Alabama, who gets a majority of their offensive production at the rim or from behind the three-point line. Offensively, the Bluejays can score from anywhere on the floor. Per Haslametrics, they rank in the top 105 in three-point percentage, midrange percentage, and near proximity percentage – which is not something many teams can say. The Bluejays have admittedly struggled offensively down the stretch, but going against non-conference opponents that are unfamiliar with their play styles could be beneficial for them and their offensive success.

Not having an experienced point guard is an area of concern. Ryan Nembhard is in his second year as the starting point guard for the Bluejays, but he missed last year’s NCAA Tournament with an injury – so he lacks the postseason experience that some of his teammates have. However, the Bluejays have enough experience around him, which should help them with ball security against some of the best defenses in the country. All longshots are going to have their flaws, but Creighton has enough on its roster to make a deep run – especially if it starts clicking again offensively. 

What team characteristics are most important when picking a champion? Check out our March Madness Bracket Guide to find out!

Memphis Tigers (+7500)

I discussed why I think Memphis is primed for a deep run in the Final Four Predictions article earlier this week, and those reasons carry over when picking a national champion. The Tigers are great on both sides of the ball, ranking in the top 21 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency since February 11th per BartTorvik. Not only are they in recent form, but they rank in the top 40 on both sides of the floor over the course of the entire year as well according to KenPom. Memphis is an experienced team with just 1 non-senior in the rotation, which is critical to sustained success in the NCAA Tournament. Their point guard, Kendric Davis, scores 22.1 points per game and carries one of the highest usage rates in the entire country. In addition to efficient scoring, Davis has an elite assist rate to go with a low turnover rate. He is also nearly automatic from the free-throw line. 

Davis certainly is not a one-man show. DeAndre Williams is one of the country’s best forwards, as he averages 17.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game playing Robin to Davis’s Batman. He makes up for lack of size with elite athleticism and physicality, which can help the Tigers get through teams like Purdue, Duke, and Marquette out of the East region and earn a trip to the Final Four. Coach Penny Hardaway surrounds Davis and Williams with savvy and capable role players like Alex Lomax and Chandler Lawson, who buy in to playing hard – especially on the defensive end. If they were to make it to the Final Four, playing against some of the nation’s elite teams would not be a concern for the Tigers – as they played Alabama to a very close game earlier this season and were extremely competitive against Gonzaga in the tournament last year before Davis transferred in. Considering their experience, reliability from the free-throw line, and defensive abilities, I think Memphis has a legitimate shot to win the NCAA Tournament. 

All of college basketball’s biggest games are available to bet with BetMGM, the premier destination for online sports betting. New customers can earn themselves a $1,000 deposit bonus by signing up right now! Click here to lock in this great sign-up offer.


Pickswise is the home of free NCAA Basketball Picks and NCAA Basketball Predictions. With the best free NCAA picks available daily, including our College Basketball Best Bets.

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