The Michigan State Spartans were the favorites to win the 2016 NCAA Tournament just a couple of weeks ago, and while their odds to win have improved it’s the Kansas Jayhawks (+500) who are now set as the front runners.
Comfortable wins at No. 19 Baylor, home to Texas Tech, and at No. 23 Texas have edged Kansas ahead of Michigan State on the latest odds.
The Spartans (+600) hasn’t exactly fallen off as they’ve won four straight and eight of their last nine games. Their only loss in that span was a one-point overtime defeat at No. 18 Purdue. Most bracketologists still view them as a No. 2 seed, but they’re No. 2 in the overall odds to win it all.
While Michigan State and Kansas have moved up, Oklahoma has dropped a little bit going from +900 to +1200. At 23-6, they’re still viewed as one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament but a decisive loss at Texas on February 27 has hurt their standing.
Coming in third and fourth on the odds are North Carolina (+800) and Kentucky (+800).
What’s interesting to note is that in both ESPN’s and USA Today’s latest projections the four No. 1 seeds are Kansas, Oklahoma (+1200), Virginia (+1400) and Villanova (+1400). However, only one of those schools is in the top four according to the odds; there’s a discrepancy between what the media and oddsmakers think heading into March.
What’s peculiar is that Xavier, which is second in the Big East and is deemed a No. 2 seed in most projections, is at +1200 versus Villanova, which is tops in the Big East and projected as a No. 1 with slightly worse odds at +1400.
The biggest mover at the top has to be the Maryland Terrapins, who opened the season as one of the three main favorites but now currently sits at +2000. That’s because they’ve lost three of their last four games and have seen their star player Melo Trimble endure a slump. They’re just 8-5 over their last 13 games after starting 15-1.
Although it’s been mostly a mediocre year for the Pac-12, they have a couple of teams that many people feel are sleeper-caliber. Utah (+6600) has now won seven in a row – including an impressive win over Arizona. They have a dominant big man in Jakob Poeltl and we’ve seen how far teams can go on the back of a strong center.
California (+3300) has also won seven straight and is tied with Oregon (+3300) for the best odds of any team in the Pac-12.