3 Longshot Picks to Win March Madness College Basketball Tournament

Justice Hill of Murray State
Justice Hill of Murray State / Joe Murphy/GettyImages

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know Gonzaga's the best, Kentucky's good, Kansas woo, Baylor sure. Talk about booring. I know the teams with the 1 and 2 by their name are great, but what about the other guys?

I'm looking for a longshot - one of those Final Four picks that can pay for a nice summer vacation and inspire envy from all my friends and coworkers. Those teams with huge odds that I can dream and brag about, those teams are what I'm after.

Luckily for us, there's a few longshots with reasonable paths through the bracket that could bring a huge payday. I wrote yesterday about three dark horse teams that could make a run and won't repeat them here, but know that I like those teams' chances as well.

Back to that payday and summer vacation. Let's take a look at three longshots that provide value in March Madness (all odds courtesy of WynnBET):

3 Longshot Picks to Win the NCAA Tournament

Loyola-Chicago (+10000)

Well, if it isn't Sister Jean herself! The Ramblers may have some new faces but they're the same bracket busters of old. Led by Lucas Williamson, Loyola-Chicago is stout on both ends, rebounds well, causes turnovers, and is coming in hot.

They won their three conference tournament games by an average of 15 points per game and over their last five, they rank in the 91st percentile in offensive rating and 99th in defensive. By playing at a slow pace but with a deep roster that's sound defensively, they're able to keep opponents uncomfortable. Combining that defense with one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, which the Ramblers are, spells "value" with a capital L-C.

Their path doesn't scare me too much, either. Ohio State shouldn't be a problem with their disastrous defensive play of late. Villanova in the Round of 32 would be difficult, but the Wildcats aren't shooting well and could be ripe for an upset.

Simply put, I love +10000 odds on an experienced, balanced team with an incredible defense that plays slow and drains three-pointers.

Murray State (+15000)

It just might be the Year of the Racers. Former Murray State star Ja Morant is the storyline of the NBA and his alma mater looks posed to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. They've rattled off 20-straight wins and have three capable scorers in KJ Williams (18.2 points per game), Tevin Brown (16.9), and Justice Hill (13.2).

You'll notice a common theme here - I love longshots with strong defenses that can shoot three-pointers and rebound. Murray State is in the 97th percentile in defensive rating on the season and 90th in three-point shooting percentage over their last five. Throw in that they're one of the best rebounding teams in the country and you've got something cookin'.

While I hate that the Racers play San Francisco in the first round (I love the makeup of the Dons too), I love the look of the rest of the region. Kentucky ranks in just the 23rd percentile in defensive rating over their last five and Murray State is built to counter the Wildcats' strengths. If they can win that game, I don't trust any of the remaining teams the Racers would have to play before the Final Four.

This team with these odds in this region is screaming with value. It's the Year of the Racers, after all.

Akron (+100000)

You asked for a longshot - how about one of the longest shots on the board? The Zips have the misfortunate of playing UCLA in the first round, but the MAC Tournament Champions are legit and can absolutely beat the Bruins.

Led by Ali Ali, Akron has won eight in a row. They've covered the spread in seven of those wins while being in the 90th percentile in offensive rating and 88th in defensive during that stretch. The Zips shoot free throws at the fifth-highest rate in all of college basketball and are in the 99th percentile in three-point shooting percentage over their last five games.

During this run of great play, they've excelled at winning the turnover battle. With a 96th-percentile ranking in steal percentage and 88th-percentile score in offensive turnover rate, they play composed and will be a tough out.

The cherry on top is that Akron plays at one of the slowest paces in the nation. A slower pace means fewer possessions, which means higher variance. At these insane odds (bet $10 to win $10,000) we're looking for variance. I'll happily take a shot in the weakest region on one of the hottest teams there is.

Follow all of Joe Summers' betting picks here.

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