The NCAA Tournament is one of the most watched and followed American sporting events, with 100 million viewers in the United States and many more abroad.

As such, it is also one of the most heavily wagered-on events in American sport, with an estimated $10 billion bet on the tournament each year.

With all of the heart-pounding excitement, including upsets, buzzer-beaters, and slam dunks, it's no surprise that March Madness attracts so much attention.

And thanks to these teams and players, the 2019 tournament should be just as exciting as the top-ranked schools look to avoid joining our list of memorable upsets.

Most Successful Schools

The NCAA Tournament has seen many great teams claim the top prize in college basketball, with many schools winning the tournament multiple times since its inception.

But of all of the schools to have repeat success in March, no program can match the UCLA Bruins. Thanks in large part to legendary head coach John Wooden, the Bruins have scored a jaw-dropping 11 national championships, including 10 titles from 1964 to 1975.

The Bruins are unlikely to appear in this year's tournament, giving the teams behind them a chance to catch up. Not too far behind the Bruins are the Kentucky Wildcats, who have racked up eight national championships in school history.

Their success dates back to 1948 when they won their first championship. North Carolina has picked up six titles to place third, with Duke and Indiana rounding out the top-five with five tournament titles apiece.

NCAA 2019: Tournament Favourites

The majority of the favourites in the 2019 NCAA Tournament are the usual suspects, with many blue-blood programs leading the list of contenders.

But there are some relative newcomers favoured to win the tournament who will look to break tradition and make some history of their own:

Duke

No team is more heavily favoured to win the 2019 NCAA Tournament than Duke, as they enter the tournament at 5/2 odds to win.

A testament to Duke's strength is that they are the favourites to win the title despite the injury woes of Zion Williamson, who is likely to play in the tournament, although nobody knows how effective he will be.

Gonzaga

Gonzaga are second-favourites to win March Madness at 11/2 odds before their semi-final game in the West Coast Conference Tournament.

They lost back-to-back games to Tennessee and North Carolina earlier this season, but haven't lost another game this year, averaging almost 90 points per game.

With player of the year candidate Rui Hachimura leading the charge with over 20 points per game, the Zags are strong candidates to get to another Final Four.

Virginia

Virginia are third-favourites to win the title at 6/1 in terms of NCAA and NBA odds. But the real story with Virginia is whether or not they can find redemption for their poor performance in last year's tournament.

They were victim to the only 16-seed upset over a one-seed in the history of the tournament last year when they were blown out by UMBC.

Virginia still have one of the best defences in the country, though, and how sharp they come out to start this year's tournament will be one of the stories to watch.

NCAA 2019: Players To Watch

Outside of Hachimura and Williamson, mentioned previously, there are some key players worth taking a look at heading into the tournament.

With the star-making potential that this tournament has, these players can move themselves up in future NBA Drafts or just be the X-factor that helps lift a team to the national championship.

Ja Morant (Murray State)

The Murray State Racers have never had a player as good as Ja Morant, who carried them through the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

His 36-point performance against top-seeded Belmont justified Morant's status as one a projected top-three pick in the 2019 draft.

In the NCAA Tournament, Morant will be one of the biggest star attractions in the field as he will likely be matched up with at least one team from a power conference before his team is eliminated.

How he does during this tournament will likely be used to project his viability as a pro even more.

Markus Howard (Marquette)

Marquette have had an up and down season in 2019, but there would have been a lot more down than up if not for the efforts of Markus Howard.

Howard is a top-10 scorer in college basketball this season, putting up 25 points per game through the regular season. He's put up multiple 40-plus point games, which he might need to do again if Marquette is going to win games in the big dance.

Howard is to this year's tournament what Trae Young was for Oklahoma last year, in that it will be interesting to see if he can carry an otherwise uninspiring team to at least the second weekend of the tourney.

Tacko Fall (UCF)

Big men usually don't get all of the attention in the NCAA Tournament, as the spotlight is usually reserved for the guards.

But when you are as big as Central Florida's Tacko Fall, you might just be able to block out the spotlight, along with some shots from opposing players. Fall is 7'6" and leads the nation in field goal percentage with about 75% of his shots going in during the year.

If he can protect the paint and get easy looks at the basket, the Knights may be able to turn some heads after flying under the radar for most of the season.

NCAA: Memorable Upsets

This tournament is remembered for the upsets, with teams having a chance to become a part of tournament history if they can knock off a higher-seeded team.

These upsets in particular were the most memorable in that teams who were given virtually no chance to advance managed to do what seemed impossible.

UMBC vs Virginia (2018)

The UMBC Retrievers were a surprise entrant in the 2018 NCAA Tournament when they beat Vermont to win the America East Tournament.

But the Retrievers weren't just happy to be there, as they put a historic beating on the Cavaliers to become the first 16-seed to beat a one-seed in 136 tries.

UMBC played like it had nothing to lose, playing fast-paced to counter the methodical style of Virginia. To say that it worked for them would be an understatement despite the basketball betting odds not being in their favour.

Lehigh vs Duke (2012)

Duke are one of the traditional powers of college basketball, and they were supposed to hammer 15-seed Lehigh out of the Patriot League in the first round in 2012, according to the basketball betting tips.

But that wasn't the case when the Mountain Hawks held on for the duration against Duke. Led by future NBA star CJ McCollum, Lehigh scored a whopping 47 points in the second half to come from behind and win.

George Mason vs UConn (2006)

Normally, first round upsets are what get all of the attention in the NCAA Tournament. But George Mason's upset of UConn in the Elite Eight was one of the best late-round upsets that the tournament has ever seen.

The Patriots beat a Huskies team that boasted several NBA draftees, including Rudy Gay, who had a long and productive professional career.

 

*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*

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