Five alive: Likable long shots to win the NCAA tournament

Feb 19, 2013 |
Five alive: Likable long shots to win the NCAA tournament
Saint Louis has the makeup of a former mid-major NCAA Cinderella.
Photo By - USA Today Sports
Saint Louis has the makeup of a former mid-major NCAA Cinderella.
Photo By - USA Today Sports
Making a deep run in March sometimes has as much to do with momentum as it does with overall talent. And, in an upside-down season like this year’s college basketball slate, the eventual national champ can come from anywhere.

While the teams atop the NCAAB futures board have remained the same for most of the season, there are a handful of programs presenting solid long-shot value. Here are five programs with huge payout potential to win the NCAA tournament:

Memphis Tigers +5,000 (22-3 SU, 10-12-0 ATS)

Head coach Josh Pastner has his players peaking at the right time. Memphis is unblemished in C-USA play and has won 16 straight since losing to Louisville back in December. The Tigers are packed with plenty of raw talent and are buying into Pastner’s philosophies in his third year replacing John Calipari. A potential high tournament seed could pave a smooth road for Memphis in March.

Georgetown Hoyas +5,000 (19-4 SU, 12-7-0 ATS)

It’s surprising to still see Georgetown as big as this after stringing together seven straight wins and losing just once in its last 10 conference games. The Hoyas are contending for the Big East regular season crown and a top seed in the NCAA, locking down foes to just 55.7 points a night. While the Princeton offense may cloud Georgetown’s talent, guys like Otto Porter and Markel Starks can turn it on and carry this team.

Oklahoma State Cowboys +5,000 (19-5 SU, 12-10-1 ATS)

In a down year in the Big 12, the Pokes could sneak into a high tournament seed if they can knock off Kansas and keep Kansas State at bay. Oklahoma State played a tough non-conference sked and has a ton of momentum heading into Wednesday’s date with KU, winning seven in a row. The Cowboys have responded well in tight games during this streak, taking four of those victories by five points or less and showing the character needed come tourney time.

Saint Louis Billikens +15,000 (19-5 SU, 13-9-0 ATS)

Don’t think the Billikens are cut from a championship cloth? They have one of the best defenses in the land (57.8 points allowed per game), shoot well from beyond the arc (36.5 percent), and have a deep rotation. Saint Louis has an eerily-similar makeup to those Butler squads that stunned their way to the Final Four a few years ago. The Billikens are quickly separating themselves from the rest of a very competitive A-10 Conference, winning seven in a row heading into Tuesday’s home showdown with VCU.

New Mexico Lobos +6,000 (22-4 SU, 13-10-2 ATS)

In a year in which the Top 25 rankings play musical chairs, the so-called “mid-majors” have the best shot at cracking the Final Four. The Lobos are in the heat of things in the Mountain West Conference, which could send as many as five teams dancing, and could lock in a solid seed if it wins the MWC outright. You could take a shot on San Diego State at +5,000 to win the NCAA, but New Mexico is playing better ball as the postseason draws near.

Odds courtesy of

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