NCAA Tournament 2023: Betting Sleepers For Every Region, Including No. 8 Seed Memphis

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Cinderella teams in the NCAA Tournament can be an overblown narrative considering the last five national champions have been 1-seeds. But, there has been a 5-seed or higher to reach the every Final Four since 2012.

Below, I identify potential sleepers to win each region in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Two of which are an 8-seed or higher and the other two are 3-seeds.

NCAA Tournament 2023: South Region

3-seed Baylor Bears (+550)

The South’s 1-seed Alabama Crimson Tide is the favorite to win this region at +190. Since I view Alabama as a relative 🔒 to win the South, the furtherest I can down the board is 3-seed Baylor at +550.

But, as far as “puncher’s chances” go, Baylor has one. Obviously, the Bears have NCAA Tournament experience as the 2021 national champions but they also have the best backcourt in this region.

Baylor guards Adam Flagler (averaging 15.5 points per game), LJ Cryer (14.5 PPG) and Keyonte George (15.8 PPG) all made 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-Team All-Big XII, respectively. Bears SF Jalen Bridges is 3rd in the Big XII in PER.

The Bears get opponents in foul trouble, make freebies, and crash the offensive glass. Baylor ranks 40th in offensive free-throw rate (FTr), 55th in free throw percentage and ranks 18th in offensive rebounding.

Baylor G Adam Flagler dribbles past Texas Longhorns SF SirJabari Rice at the Moody Center in Austin, Texas.
Baylor G Adam Flagler dribbles past Texas Longhorns SF Sir’Jabari Rice at the Moody Center in Austin, Texas. (Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

While Baylor’s defense is a concern, the Bears do have the firepower to make a tourney run. Baylor is 22nd in 3-point-attempt rate (3PAr) and 32nd in 3-point shooting percentage.

The Bears’ defensive shot profile is encouraging. Baylor ranks 6th in the NCAA tourney for “close” 2-pointers allowed. The Bears are 9th in inefficient “far” 2-pointers forced, per BartTorvik.com.

“Baylor to win the South Region at +550” is a lean because my official pick is Alabama. However, I’ll be looking to take the points with the Bears should they play 2-seed Arizona or ‘Bama.


NCAA Tournament 2023: East Region

8-seed Memphis Tigers (+1600)

The selection committee should be charged with a crime for under-seeding Memphis. Matching them up with another underrated team in 9-seed Florida Atlantic is flagrant as well.

Memphis upset the Midwest 1-seed Houston Cougars in the American Athletic Conference championship and have been ballin’ entering the NCAA Tournament.

Per BartTorvik.com, the Tigers have the 2nd-best adjusted net efficiency in the East region since Feb. 13 behind 6-seed Kentucky. Their probable Round of 32 opponent is 1-seed Purdue who is 7th in net efficiency in the last month.

Memphis has the 5th-best adjusted net efficiency in Quad 1 games in the nation (minimum of five Quad 1 games played). The Tigers are ahead of East 1-seed Purdue, which ranks 11th.

Memphis Tigers coach Penny Hardaway instructs his team during a game in the second half against the Wichita State Shockers at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas.
Memphis Tigers coach Penny Hardaway instructs his team during a game in the second half against the Wichita State Shockers at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas. (Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Aside from a loss to Saint Louis in the 2nd game of the season, Memphis doesn’t have any embarrassing losses on its resume. The Tigers lost by three to Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Their in-conference losses include a 20-win Tulane twice, UCF in overtime and Houston twice. Memphis got revenge on all three AAC teams in the conference tourney.

Tigers transfer senior PG Kendric Davis has the highest PPG over a replacement player for the guard position in the East region, per BartTorvik.com. Memphis senior wing DeAndre Williams is 8th in the East.

“Memphis to win the East Region” (+1600) is a bet I have in my account and my favorite sleeper in any region of the NCAA Tournament.

BET: Half-unit on the Memphis Tigers to win the South Region (+1600) at DraftKings Sportsbook


NCAA Tournament 2023: Midwest Region

10-seed Penn State Nittany Lions (+3500)

The Nittany Lions (+2500) to win the Big Ten tourney almost cashed for me when they lost to Purdue 67-65 in the conference championship.

I’m going back to the well with Penn State based on experience and shot profile. Two of my usual go-to’s when handicapping college hoops.

According to KenPom.com, the Nittany Lions lead the country in experience, ranks 13th in effective field goal shooting (eFG%), 10th in 3PAr, and 6th in turnover rate (TOV%).

Penn State leads this region in “far” 2-pointers forced, is 2nd in “close” 2-pointers allowed and 3rd in dunk rate allowed, per BartTorvik.com.

Penn State's Jalen Pickett takes a layup against Purdue during the Big Ten Basketball Tournament Championship at United Center in Chicago.
Penn State’s Jalen Pickett takes a layup against Purdue during the Big Ten Basketball Tournament Championship at United Center in Chicago. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Nittany Lions senior G Jalen Pickett leads the Midwest Region in points over replacement player, senior SF Seth Lundy rank 13th.

Since Feb. 13, Penn State is 8th nationally in adjusted efficiency in Quad 1 games. The Nittany Lions are 8-2 overall in the last 10 games entering the NCAA Tournament with losses to Rutgers and Purdue.

For the record, 2-seed Texas is my official pick to win the Midwest Region. But, Penn State at +3500 is too good of value to pass up.

BET: Quarter-unit on the Penn State Nittany Lions to win the Midwest Region (+3500)


NCAA Tournament 2023: West Region

3-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs (+425)

As my betting buddy Dan Zaksheske pointed out, this is the toughest region in the NCAA Tournament. But, since Bruins SF and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Jaylen Clark is out for the Big Dance, 3-seed Gonzaga jumped 2-seed UCLA in my power rankings.

The Bulldogs have the best adjusted efficiency in this region in Quad 1 games and 3rd-best nationally. Four of their five regular-season losses include 2-seed Texas, 1-seed Purdue, 3-seed Baylor and 5-seed Saint Mary’s.

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few and his team celebrate their 77-51 victory over the Saint Mary's Gaels in the West Coast Conference championship at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few and his team celebrate their 77-51 victory over the Saint Mary’s Gaels in the West Coast Conference championship at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Per KenPom.com, Gonzaga has by far the best offensive efficiency in the tourney with the 2nd-best eFG% and 11th-best offensive TOV%. Bulldogs big Drew Timme leads the region in points over a replacement player.

Also, Gonzaga seems to be flying under the radar for the 1st time in years, which is the best time to back the Bulldogs. They were a 1-seed in the last three NCAA Tournaments.

Gonzaga has a 9-game winning streak entering the Big Dance and have the best adjusted net efficiency in the country since the beginning of February.

BET: Half-unit on the Gonzaga Bulldogs to win the West Region (+425)


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Written by Geoff Clark

Geoff Clark serves as OutKick’s sports betting guru. As a writer and host of OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark, he dives deep into the sports betting landscape and welcomes an array of sports betting personalities on his show to handicap America’s biggest sporting events.

Previously, Clark was a writer/podcaster for USA TODAY's Sportsbook Wire website, handicapping all the major sports tentpoles with a major focus on the NFL, NBA and MLB.

Clark graduated from St. John University.

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