Reseeding the Sweet 16 Bracket According to Updated NCAA Futures Odds
The first two rounds of this year's NCAA Tournament have done nothing but leave us wanting more. March Madness has given us game-winning buzzer-beaters, dramatic comebacks, unexpected heroes, and historic upsets. The first two rounds have set the tone for what I expect to be another wild round in the Sweet 16 that sets social media on fire and wins over the hearts of casual basketball fans.
While all the supposed "best" teams may not have made the Sweet 16 (looking at you, Virginia and Xavier), each one of the 16 teams that will be competing on Thursday and Friday have their own narrative, each one more exciting than the other. The Sweet 16 features the annual contenders like Duke and Villanova, schools that haven't taken that next step yet like Gonzaga and Michigan, and teams that were supposed to be one-and-done like Loyola and Kansas State.
It's this mixture alone that should be enough to provide both intrigue and drama once the action gets underway Thursday night. But before then, let's take a look at the remaining teams ranked according to their futures odds. All odds are courtesy of Bovada.
Duke Blue Devils (No. 2 Seed) (+325)
The Blue Devils are in the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last four seasons after dismantling both Iona and Rhode Island in the first two rounds of the tournament. They are being led by highly-touted Marvin Bagley III, who has put up 22 points and seven rebounds in both games so far. Prior to the tournament, the big narrative surrounding Duke was that they are too inconsistent to make a deep run in the tournament. Those first two games have put that notion to rest. Duke held both opponents to fewer than one point per possession while knocking down their 3-point attempts at a nearly 60 percent clip. An all-ACC matchup against Syracuse will be trickier than it seems on paper. Duke is currently 11.5-point favorites , and the total is set at 133.
Villanova Wildcats (No. 1 Seed) (+450)
The Wildcats started the tournament as the odds-on favorite to win the National Title, and they did not make any costly errors in the first two games. They not only destroyed No. 16 Radford by 26 points but made No. 9 Alabama look like a JV team en route to a 23-point victory. Despite those two performances, the Wildcats relinquished their hold as betting favorite, which to me is shocking. The only logical reasoning behind this is the bracket. They face a very tough test in the Sweet 16 against West Virginia, and should they advance then they will take on Texas Tech or Purdue. Villanova is currently 5.5- point favorites against the Mountaineers, with the total set at 154.5.
Kentucky Wildcats (No. 5 Seed) (+700)
It seems like every year we write the same narrative for the Kentucky Wildcats. They struggle through the regular season and then flip a switch and dominate the SEC Tournament and carry that momentum into the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky is a freshmen-laden team, but they sure as hell don't play like it. The Wildcats took care of business in the opening two rounds by outclassing Davidson and overwhelming Buffalo. They are led by freshmen point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is averaging 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists so far this tournament. Up next for the Wildcats is a date with Kansas State. John Calipari's team is currently six-point favorites, and the total is set at 138. Barring any major upset (seed wise), Kentucky should find themselves in the Final Four.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (No. 4 Seed) (+700)
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are in the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive year after pulling off a pair of close, nail-biting wins. In the opener, Gonzaga was on the verge of defeat before ending the game on a 6-0 run to seal a four-point win. The following game against Ohio State was just as close, with the Bulldogs prevailing by six points. This is a very different Gonzaga team then the one that made the finals last season, so seeing them as the fourth choice on the betting board is a bit surprising. Up next for the Bulldogs is a Sweet 16 matchup against a talented Florida State team. The Zags are currently 5.5-point favorites, with the total set at 154.
Michigan Wolverines (No. 3 Seed) (+800)
The Michigan Wolverines added to the Madness late Saturday night with their game-winning, buzzer-beating shot to top the Houston Cougars. That win put Michigan into the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season, but the Wolverines have one of the toughest Sweet 16 opponents left in the tournament. The Wolverines must find a way to overcome the powerful Texas A&M Aggies, but Las Vegas has tabbed the Wolverines as three-point favorites. The Wolverines have not played to their potential in the first two games, so look for Michigan to come out and give the Aggies their best shot.
Kansas Jayhawks (No. 1 Seed) (+850)
Another year, another Kansas Jayhawks team in the Sweet 16. The Jayhawks are making their third consecutive appearance in the Sweet 16 despite not playing up to their potential. In the first round against Pennsylvania, the Jayhawks got off to a slow start before dominating the second half. In the second round, the Jayhawks were unable to distance themselves from an overrated Seton Hall team, but they ultimately prevailed. The Jayhawks prefer to play a four-guard lineup, which could be their downfall against a team that boasts a legitimate big man down low. The Jayhawks must now find a way to navigate a very talented Clemson squad. They are currently 4.5-point favorite, with the total set at 143.
West Virginia Mountaineers (No. 5 Seed) (+1600)
The Mountaineers are in the Sweet 16 for the third time in the last four seasons after dominating Murray State in the opening round and overwhelming Marshall in the next game. Up next for the Mountaineers is a date with the Villanova Wildcats, which is arguably the toughest matchup to call. The Mountaineers are led by Jevon Carter, who is averaging 24.5 points per game in the opening two rounds. They are also forcing turnovers at a high rate, as seen by their 18 forced turnovers against the Thundering Herd. The Mountaineers are a difficult team to prepare for because of their pressure defense, so I believe they have a puncher's chance to knock out Villanova.
Purdue Boilermakers (No. 2 Seed) (+1600)
The Boilermakers are back in the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season after dominating Cal State Fullerton and sneaking by a feisty Butler squad. The Boilermakers could be in a world of trouble after one of their most important players, Isaac Haas, fractured his elbow in the first-round win. Haas' absence proved costly on the defensive side of the floor as the Boilermakers allowed Butler to hit 60 percent of their shots from inside the paint. Backup center Matt Haarms is a solid replacement, but he doesn't provide the offensive production that Haas does. The Boilermakers are set to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders and currently listed as 1.5-point favorites.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (No. 3 Seed) (+2200)
Texas Tech is into the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005 when they lost to No. 7 West Virginia. Texas Tech squeaked by its first two opponents, Stephen F. Austin and Florida, by 10 points and three points, respectively. The Red Raiders are led by Keenan Evans, who averaged 22.5 points in the first two games. Combine his offensive efficiency with the Red Raiders' defensive prowess, and the Red Raiders are a tough out for any team left in the tournament. Up next for the Red Raiders is a game against a beatable Purdue team who will be without one of their key cogs in the paint.
Texas A&M Aggies (No. 7 Seed) (+2500)
Texas A&M might have the best one-two punch left in the tournament in the likes of Robert Williams and Tyler Davis. The Aggies snuck by Providence in the first round before making a statement in round two with an 86-65 demolition of North Carolina. A Sweet 16 matchup against Michigan is very winnable if the team can replicate it's round two performance and get solid efforts from Williams and Davis. The Aggies are currently three-point dogs.
Clemson Tigers (No. 5 Seed) (+2500)
Clemson is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1997. The Tigers got by New Mexico State in the opening round before absolutely trouncing Auburn in the second round. The Tigers are an elite defensive squad that can shut down high-octane offense while putting up buckets of points themselves. Against NMST and Auburn, the Tigers combined to shoot 46-of-80 from inside the arc. That's a percentage that no other team can lay claim to. The Tigers will be in tough to advance to the Elite Eight as they are currently 4.5-point dogs against Kansas.
Nevada Wolf Pack (No. 7 Seed) (+2500)
The Nevada Wolf Pack are seemingly a team of destiny. They are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004 and are here on the heels of two massive comebacks. The Wolf Pack trailed Texas by 14 points before winning in overtime to escape round one. In round two, against one of the best defenses in the country, the Wolf Pack came back from a 22-point deficit to stun Cincinnati. The Wolf Pack are one of the most efficient offenses in the country, making nearly 40 percent of their 3-point attempts. They also have a solid one-two combo with Cody and Caleb Martin leading the offensive output. The Wolf Pack are currently 1.5-point favorites against Loyola.
Kansas State Wildcats (No. 9 Seed) (+2800)
The Kansas State Wildcats are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010. The Wildcats defeated Creighton in the opening round before "lucking out" and getting No. 16 UMBC fresh off a historic win against Virginia. The Wildcats didn't exactly look like world-beaters in that UMBC game, winning by a score of 50-43 and connecting on just one 3-point basket in 12 attempts while turning the ball over 18 times. It'll take a minor miracle for the Wildcats to pull off the upset of Kentucky in the Sweet 16. However, as the saying goes: in March anything can happen.
Florida State Seminoles (No. 9 Seed) (+4000)
The Florida State Seminoles pulled of a major upset in the second round by defeating No. 1 Xavier. Based on rankings, yes, it was an upset. However, based on style of play and talent, the Seminoles got the better of a vastly-overrated Musketeer's squad. FSU is back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2001. They have the offensive capacity to score with any team in the nation and the defensive wherewithal to lock down opposing stars. They were able to hold Xavier's leading scorer, Trevon Bluiettt, to just 2-for-8 from the floor. They now face a beatable Gonzaga squad, so a trip to the Elite Eight isn't out of the question.
Loyola Ramblers (No. 11 Seed) (+5000)
The Ramblers have taken the nation by storm, and everyone's favorite Chaplin, Sister Jean, will have more TV time in the Sweet 16. The Ramblers are here on the heels of two game-winning, buzzer-beating shots against No. 6 Miami and No. 3 Tennessee. The Ramblers play respectable defense and have hit 40 percent of their 3-point attempts over the first two games. I would suggest looking elsewhere if you are hoping to fade this Cinderella squad. Nobody messes with Sister Jean.
Syracuse Orange (No. 11 Seed) (+6600)
Stop me if you've heard this before. Syracuse's inclusion into the NCAA was a hotly debated amongst fans and experts claiming that they Orange do not belong. The Orange are proving doubters wrong by opening up the tournament with a win against Arizona State in the play-in game then beating TCU and Michigan State within two days of each other. Not bad for a team that doesn't belong. The Orange are at their very best when the zone defense is clicking and forcing opponents into tough shots. They will need it to be at its very best against an extremely talented Duke squad if they want to keep this Cinderella run going into the Elite Eight.
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