Sweet 16 Predictions and March Madness Futures Odds
by Alan Matthews - 3/22/2011
With the NCAA Tournament’s first week a thing of the past, it’s time to take a new look at those brackets and re-evaluate your betting options.
Certainly oddsmakers are doing that. For example, at Bodog on the prop where you can bet on which conference the national champion comes from, the odds have shifted fairly dramatically. The Big 12 – i.e. Kansas – was the favorite before the Big Dance started. And it’s not like Kansas hasn’t looked pretty good in beating Boston U. (the first half was a struggle) and a very talented Illinois team. But the Big 12 is now at 9/4 to win it all, just behind the Big Ten’s 7/5.
In an argument for the Big 12, Kansas has the easiest path by far to the Final Four as only double-digit seeds remain in the Southwest Region. The Jayhawks face Atlantic 10 champ and No. 12 Richmond on Friday (we told you last week that Richmond was the most likely No. 12 seed to advance, although KU is the biggest favorite of the Sweet 16 at -10.5) and then would get the winner between No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth and No. 10 Florida State. This looks a lot like 2008 for Kansas, which beat the 16, 8, 12 and 10 seeds on the way to the Final Four. However, the Seminoles are clearly a different team with Chris Singleton back and he will have all week to get more in rhythm. And VCU is the only club with three NCAA Tournament wins this year.
But the two reasons the Big Ten surpassed the Big 12 would be that the Big 12 lost a potential title dark horse in Texas on Sunday and because Ohio State looks utterly dominant and Wisconsin is still hanging around. The Badgers caught a bit of a break in that they get to face Butler instead of Pittsburgh in the Sweet 16 and then could easily beat either BYU or Florida in the Elite Eight – although obviously Butler could beat UW according to my Sweet 16 predictions. By the way, Pitt’s loss continued a trend: No team that has lost its first game in a conference tournament has ever won a national title.
Ohio State’s 98-66 win over George Mason on Sunday was easily the most impressive performance of the Big Dance so far. The Buckeyes won their two games by a total of 62 points. They shot 58.6 percent from the field in the two games and 56 percent on three-pointers.
The Big East, which had a record 11 teams in the tournament, has flopped and is now 10/1 to win the National Championship with just Connecticut and Marquette remaining. And both the Huskies and Golden Eagles could be underdogs by tipoff – UConn opened as a ‘pick’em’ against San Diego State while Marquette is +4 against North Carolina.
The ACC is 5/2 to win it all, but the only problem there is that Duke and North Carolina would have to face off in the Final Four. But if Florida State can somehow get through we might see an all-ACC final.
The “favorite” for the lowest seed to reach the Final Four is a No. 4 seed at 9/4, according to March Madness futures odds. That’s not a bad bet with Kentucky (facing OSU in the Sweet 16) and the Badgers still around at that seed. The ‘over/under’ for No. 1 seeds in the Final Four remains at 1.5 but the over has now moved to -190. I think the ‘over’ is a sure thing with Kansas’ clear road and the fact Duke now has Kyrie Irving back. Although Duke is in the toughest remaining region -- every region has at least one major surprise in the Sweet 16 except for Duke’s West, which is one seed away from pure chalk. The only upset was No. 5 Arizona over No. 4 Texas and it’s hard to call that much of an upset.
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