The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is in the books, and for the most part the tournament lacked the typical amount of madness that we normally see. It was a weekend mixed with favorites going through and underdogs taking down top teams. There are only two seeds below No. 7 remaining and only one No. 1 seed (Villanova) has been bounced. Here is a look at the odds going into the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight.
Kansas (+475) are the new favorites after Duke – the preseason-tournament favorites – crashed out against South Carolina in the second round. North Carolina (+500) and Gonzaga (+650) are next as three No. 1 seeds made it through the first weekend. The only casualty was Villanova, the defending champions who lost to Wisconsin. No. 2 Arizona (+650) is also in this group as they’re in line for a meeting with Gonzaga in the West region final, providing that both teams get through. All four of these teams ran into problems at some point over the first weekend, but the best out of the four was Kansas, who won by 38 in their opening game and by 20 in the Round of 32.
UCLA (+900) and Kentucky (+1000) are just below the favorites but only one will survive the next round as these two meet in the Sweet Sixteen where UCLA is a one-point favorite. Florida (+1200), Baylor (+1600) and Michigan (+1600) are hanging around with West Virginia (+1800), Oregon (+1800) and Wisconsin (+1800) not too far behind. Florida and Wisconsin will face off, and the Badgers will have plenty of confidence after taking out the defending national champs. Florida hasn’t been tested yet as they won their first two games by 15 or more, but Wisconsin will be a handful for them.
Meanwhile, Gonzaga has to be careful of West Virginia, who are as tough as they come. They raised their game from beating Bucknell up to Notre Dame, and many analysts feel this is an undervalued team. Oregon continues to be on upset alert as they barely eked out a win against No. 11 Rhode Island in the Round of 32. That’s emphasized by the fact that they’re an underdog to No. 7 Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen.
Purdue (+2000), Butler (+4000), South Carolina (+5000) and Xavier (+7500) round out the odds for the rest of the tournament. Purdue and Butler aren’t flashy teams, and they have their work cut out for them as they take on a pair of No. 1 seeds in Kansas and North Carolina. The Boilermakers barely got by Iowa State in the Round of 32 and now have to face the tournament favorite, so that’s why their odds to win it all are so long. However, they’re only a five-point underdog against Kansas.
As for Butler, they probably like their chances against North Carolina knowing that the Tar Heels had a fairly controversial win over Arkansas.
South Carolina took out Duke to set up their meeting with Baylor, but that game was played in Greenville, South Carolina; the Gamecocks now have to take their show on the road to Madison Square Garden in New York City. This will be their first-ever appearance in the Sweet Sixteen. Finally, Xavier is the lowest seed remaining as a No. 11 in the West and will take on Arizona, who is coached by Sean Miller. He left Xavier in 2009 for the desert.