This article has been submitted by the probably now well-bronzed Alex Pennycook.

Top 5 Best Odds
Washington State (40-1) – Before Saturday’s demolition of USC, Washington State had lost 4 of their last 5 and now is the perfect time to buy low on these guys. This team hasn’t had a “bad” loss all season (albeit they had a very soft non-conference schedule) and the backcourt combo of Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver is extremely dangerous. Last year this team was new to the dance but now they know what it takes to win come March.

Pittsburgh (50-1) – This is the only team to have beaten Duke all season (at a neutral site on top of that) until last week and the reason why they have struggled recently is due to the injury of floor general Levance Fields (always a great sign when your point guard is from the Bronx). Everyone wrote this team off after they lost Aaron Gray and Levon Kendall (preseason 200-1 odds) but the team has looked very strong with the emergence of Sam Young and freshman Dejuan Blair. With Fields set to return from injury soon this team should finally hit their stride within the coming weeks.

Texas A&M (75-1) - This team lost a lot from last season (team leader Acie Law, glue guy Antanas Kavaliauskas and head coach Billy Gillespie) but still remains as a contender in the strong Big 12 (reeling off 5 straight conference wins). This team has a very strong starting five and Josh Carter has really developed into a go-to scorer. Balanced teams like the Aggies are always a tough out in the tournament and of this group I think they have the best shot to go the distance.

Purdue (100-1) - Right now Purdue is in the top 20 in the major polls and is at 100-1? I don’t know much about this team but I do know that they’ve won 11 straight Big Ten games (including 2 wins over Wisconsin who remains ranked above them) and sit tied atop the standings. Their last five conference games are against inferior teams, so buy low while you still can.

Gonzaga (100-1) - Gonzaga might not even win their division this year but look poised to make a run in March. The Bulldogs have a solid well-rounded rotation and they played a tough non-conference schedule early to make up for their softer regular season games. Jeremy Pargo is a stud and could steal this team a game or two on his own.

Top 5 Mid-Majors

Xavier – People (Stu Wilkinson) no longer consider the Atlantic 10 a mid-major after replacing the Missouri Valley as the 7th major conference but they (he) are idiots. Of all the mid-major programs this is the team that has the best chance to go far in the tournament. They still have many key contributors back from the team that should have knocked off Ohio State in the 2nd round last year, and many signature wins under their belts already: Indiana (80-65), Creighton (79-66), Kansas State (103-77), Dayton (69-43). Their conference is getting a lot respect this season (talk of as many as four teams in the tournament) and if Xavier finishes strong they might end up with a 3 seed, clearly a prime position to make a deep run in the tournament.

Butler – Another mid-major that gets a lot of publicity, mainly because of all-star A.J. Graves, this team won’t sneak up on anybody. Last year they gave Florida probably their biggest scare of the tournament and with 5 seniors on this team they know this is their last shot. The team doesn’t have as impressive wins as Xavier but are probably more experienced and Horizon League teams have had good showings in the tournament in recent years so you can expect this squad to be in the Sweet Sixteen.

Drake – This is easily the biggest wildcard of the group. Last season Drake was a .500 team and is now the cream of the Missouri Valley crop. Their only loss of the season was on the road to a now-Top 25 team in St. Mary’s (who I’ll get to later) in the 2nd game of the season. Since then, they reeled off 21 straight wins before stumbling twice in three games, but are still cruising to the MVC title. A critical Bracketbuster game against Butler looms and will help to clarify the pecking order of these mid-major teams when it comes to seeding time. Already ranked in the Top 20 in the nation, that game is a chance to really put the program on the map.

St. Mary’s – This is another team that has come out from left field and proven that they should be feared. They were .500 last year but with the arrival of Aussie freshman sensation Patrick Mills they have really been right in the thick of the WAC title chase. The win over Oregon early in the season doesn’t look that good now (at the time they were ranked #11) but the win over Drake more than compensates for that now and a huge win three Big Monday’s ago over Gonzaga really legitimatized this squad.

Davidson – Everyone jumped on this bandwagon last season (how can you not like a team with Dell Curry’s son on it) and looked for it to do big things this season after scheduling a daring non-conference schedule. Although they played UNC, Duke and UCLA all closely, then ended up with a 2-6 record and everyone wrote them off. They now stand at 21-6 (18-0 in the Southern conference) with Stephen Curry averaging 25 points a game. Those early losses have helped the team in the long run and if Curry gets hot they could provide us with a couple of shockers.

This article has been submitted by the probably now well-bronzed Alex Pennycook.