This much we know about the Purdue Boilermakers: They have the best big man in American college hoops, 7-foot-4 senior Zach Edey, who is considered a likely first-round NBA draft pick and could make it into the draft lottery if he has a dominant NCAA Tournament.

We also know that Purdue has been the Big Ten’s best team throughout this season despite an overtime loss at Northwestern, a loss at Ohio State, and a loss in a non-conference game at Nebraska.

What we do not know is which region the Boilermakers will be placed in on Selection Sunday, how much traveling that will require, and which teams on their side of the bracket are the Diaper Dandies that Dick Vitale used to rant and rave about when he became relevant once a year during March Madness.

It is pretty much a lock that Purdue will go into the tournament as a No. 1 seed and will play its first game against the winner of a play-in game. From there, it will be the same as it is every March: Take the games as they come, gather as much video as possible on an opponent that likely will come from a conference and a region the Big Ten has nothing to do with, and focus on just one opponent at a time.

It is a tried and true formula that every coach uses to try to win the national championship, something the Boilermakers have never done. The closest Purdue came was in 1969, when it finished second to one of John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins teams that won 10 championships during the 12 seasons between 1964 and 1975.

From a gambling perspective, it really does not matter if Purdue wins it all, because Betway offers odds on the Boilermakers just getting very, very close.

Reaching the Final Four is a massive accomplishment for many schools, and bettors have an opportunity to either pick the eventual champion or pick a team to make it to the Final Four. The Boilermakers were +700 to win it all and +150 to make it to the Final Four just before beating the Wisconsin Badgers 78-70 in their final regular-season game on March 10.

Purdue also will play in Minneapolis at the Big Ten men’s tournament from March 13-17, where, if they are smart, they will save their energy. Why? Because conference tournaments serve no purpose other than to make mounds of money for the same schools that would continue to exploit their student-athletes and pay them nothing if that were still allowed.

There are economics and political science classes offered at Purdue, and only each individual professor knows whether it is a good or bad idea to teach the students the truth about college athletics: Academics make money hand over fist off their big-time sports programs, and off the hard-earned dollars that parents and students pay for tuition. A few of the luckier college athletes are now able to make some money off their name, image, and likeness rights because the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in three years ago, but 99 percent of Division I athletes are deriving zero NIL dollars.

But back to the Boilermakers.

Whether they enter the NCAA tournament with three losses, or four, or five really makes no difference. The most important thing to remember when going over bracketology (we all try to be experts every spring) is that odds are going to change based upon seedings and spoiler possibilities, and nobody will have any idea who might be playing until Selection Sunday arrives on March 17, the same day that several conference tournament winners are decided.

Last year, Florida Atlantic made it to the Final Four as a No. 9 seed coming out of Conference USA, and the Owls came within one point of defeating San Diego State to make it to the championship game. To get there, FAU defeated a No. 8 seed, a No. 16 seed (Fairleigh-Dickinson, which knocked off No. 1 Purdue), another No. 8 seed, a No. 4 seed, and a No. 3 seed.

Purdue’s loss to Fairleigh Dickinson last year marked just the second time in NCAA men’s tournament history that a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 seed, so, yeah, crazy stuff can happen in that tournament.

The pain of that improbable loss is undoubtedly what has been fueling coach Chris Collins, the son of Hall of Fame coach Doug Collins. Hammering home the idea that there is unfinished business is the motivational method every coach tries to use. Collins is among the sharpest in the business and has been delivering that message since Day One of this season.

Here are Betway’s NCAA championship odds for the 10 schools considered to have the best chance to win it all:

NCAA Basketball odds to win March Madness 2024

Connecticut +500
Houston +600
Purdue +700
Tennessee +1200
Kentucky +1800
Auburn +1800
Iowa State +2000
North Carolina +2000
Marquette +2000

Odds are subject to change*

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