March Madness Seeds vs. National Championship Futures Odds
Putting together a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket is unlikely to happen in our lifetime-or in anyone else's lifetime. It's just not going to happen. But a very good bracket is possible, and we at Doc's Sports are doing what it takes to help you come up with solid methods on how to put together the best possible bracket for your office pools. It won't be perfect, but the tips should help you contend for the top prize and unlimited bragging rights.
A method-among many-worth looking at is one the eliminates factors like stats, trends, home/away records, KPI, RPI, SOS, and all other three-letter abbreviations you can concoct. It is strictly based on odds, focusing exclusive on the linesmakers who never fail in making Las Vegas rich.
As always, the oddsmakers in Las Vegas have already done the heavy lifting for you by releasing futures odds for the NCAA Tournament. If "the house always wins," as they say, which teams will be winning over the next three weeks? Let's find out, region by region.
Odds courtesy of MyBookie.ag unless otherwise indicated .
The South Region includes the No. 1 overall seed, Virginia. And the
Cavaliers are being treated as such, with Vegas tipping them as
even-money favorites to emerge from the South a claim a spot in San
Antonio. After all, UVA is 31-2 overall, went 17-1 in the ACC during
the regular season, and won the conference tournament. Interestingly,
No. 2 seed Cincinnati and No. 4 seed Arizona are next in line at +220
and +280, respectively, to win the South Region. Tennessee, which is
seeded better than Arizona at No. 3, is +500 to cut down the nets in
Atlanta. This effectively means that the Wildcats have almost the same
chance to upset Virginia in the Sweet 16 as Cincinnati has to navigate
its way through the likes of Georgia State, Nevada, Texas, Tennessee,
and Miami (FL) on the other side of the bracket and book a place in the
Elite 8. The Volunteers, meanwhile, are saddled with much longer odds
than those of Arizona even though they are seeded higher and have a
better draw opposite the Wahoos.
Kentucky, a -6 favorite over Davidson in the first round, is +600 to capture the region title. So, there is a core group of five serious contenders, and then there is everyone else (the Hurricanes are the sixth favorites at +2300).
No region is more tightly packed at the top than the West, where an
impressive group up four includes No. 1 seed Xavier, No. 2 North
Carolina, No. 3 Michigan, and No. 4 Gonzaga. Most notably, the
Zags-despite their seeding, are co-favorites to reach the Final Four at
+250 along with North Carolina. An Elite 8 showdown between the
third-seeded Wolverines (+300) and the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (+250) is
actually more likely than No. 1 (Xavier at +330 to win the region) vs.
No. 2 (North Carolina at +250)-although Gonzaga vs. North Carolina is,
just barely, the most likely matchup in Los Angeles.
One interesting team to watch out for is Missouri, which is the eighth seed and seventh favorite (+1100). Beyond the previously-mentioned crop of four, the Tigers are right there with No. 5 seed Ohio State (+900), No. 6 Houston (+1000) and No. 7 Texas A&M (+1000). This can be attributed to the fact that freshman Michael Porter Jr. has returned from a back injury, and a relatively vulnerable No. 1 seed-Xavier-is a likely second-round opponent.
The West is not alone as a region in which the top seed is not expected
to play its way to San Antonio. While the Musketeers are the fourth
favorites over there, Kansas is the third choice to triumph in the
Midwest. It appears to be a three-team race in this section, with Duke
(+150) and Michigan State (+160) just ahead of the Jayhawks (+200). But
because the Blue Devils and Spartans are in a brutal half of this
region and would have to go head-to-head in the Sweet 16, the smart
money is still on Kansas to reach the Elite Eight and square off
against whichever traditional college basketball powerhouse wins the
Also worth noting in this region is the 8-9 game. Although these battles are often eagerly anticipated to be competitive contests, No. 8 Seton Hall is +2500 to make a Final Four run whereas N.C. State is all the way down at +5500. So if you are inclined to pick Kansas for an early second-round upset, it would be wise to go with the Pirates doing that deed as opposed to the Wolfpack.
Las Vegas expects the East Region to be the most lopsided and the least
interesting. Villanova (+160 at
to win it) is not as huge of a favorite as Virginia in the South, but
the Wildcats only have competition from Purdue (+290 to win the East)
according to the oddsmakers. No other team in this part of the bracket
has a better than a +650 chance (No. 5 seed West Virginia). In other
words, if you want to go with No. 1 vs. No. 2 Elite Eight chalk in just
one region, go with Villanova vs. Purdue in the East.
As for a 10-7 "upset," Butler over Arkansas in the East may be the way to go. The Bulldogs (+4500) are the only No. 10 seed that has better odds to reach the Final Four than the respective No. 7 seed (the Razorbacks are +5000).
Using the current odds to win each region, the 2018 Final Four would feature No. 1 Virginia vs. either No. 2 North Carolina or No. 4 (!!!!) Gonzaga and then No. 2 Duke vs. No. 1 Villanova. Two No. 1s, a No. 2, and either another No. 2 or a No. 4? That sounds like a decent bracket-not all chalk but nothing too crazy.
As for National Championship odds, Virginia and Villanova are +550 co-favorites. But if you don't want an all-No. 1 final, take a shot at a Virginia vs. Duke all-ACC showdown (the second-seeded Devils are third at +750) or Virginia vs. Michigan State (fourth at +800).
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