In March of every year, Americans gather around their televisions to cheer underdog teams in the 1st and 2nd rounds of the NCAA Tournament…hoping that an unheralded squad will break through and become the next “Cinderella” to make the Final Four or the Sweet Sixteen.
Last year’s March Madness upsets were some of the most heartwarming stories of the sports year. The golden-clad “Retrievers” of UMBC taking down Virginia in the first-ever #16 over #1 triumph. Buffalo of the Mid-American Conference whipping Arizona in the round of 64. Loyola-Chicago going to the Final Four and taking the beloved nun Sister Jean with them all the way.
But a massive NCAA Tournament upset does more than just warm hearts. It can fatten wallets too. Fantasy tournament bettors are lured into predicting the entire bracket year after year, but the smartest sharks are looking for that Cinderella team to pull off a long-odds run into the final weekend.
Murray State may prove to have a mispriced betting line out of London and Las Vegas. The 2018-19 Racers are currently at consensus futures odds of 250/1 to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, making them around a 65-to-1 long-shot to reach the 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis.
Those numbers don’t reflect the ability of the Racer cagers on hardcourt.
6’3” sophomore guard Ja Morant is averaging a sensational 23.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 10.2 assists per game for Murray State. Morant is one of the most electrifying players in the country and could potentially be the first guard taken in the 2019 NBA Draft.
The Racers also love their backcourt duo of 6’3” senior Shaq Buchanan and 6’5” freshman Tevin Brown, each averaging double figures in the scoring column.
Murray State shoots at a clip of around 50 percent, a deadly Gonzaga-like average from the field. Head coach Matt McMahon’s defensive scheme is laser-sharp on the perimeter and ranks 5th in the nation in defensive 3-point FG percentage.
The biggest difference between the Racers and a small-ball power like NC State is that the Wolfpack plays in the ACC and receives more media attention.
At 20-4 overall and in 1st place in the Ohio Valley conference, the squad is poised to reach March Madness – the first and most important benchmark for “sleeper” on the futures board. But Morant and the Racers must improve against teams from marquee conferences, having lost a pair of close games to Alabama and Auburn of the SEC in late 2018.
Photo from YouTube.