The Michigan State Spartans have not yet started the Big Ten Tournament, but they are the co-favorites on the most recent odds to win the NCAA Tournament.
One of the reasons Michigan State (+500) has moved back to the top of the heap is their very easy win over Ohio State this past Saturday. They’re going to get a top-two seed in the NCAA Tournament as long as they win at least one game in the Big Ten Tournament.
That high seed, combined with Tom Izzo’s track record in March, has convinced oddsmakers to the point that the Spartans are the number one choice at this point.
Kansas (+500) is co-favored with Michigan State as the Jayhawks took care of business against Iowa State this past week, but there is a longstanding awareness that Kansas suffers upsets in the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan State and North Carolina carry more confidence than the Jayhawks, even though Kansas will probably be the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament.
North Carolina (+900) is the third choice after beating Duke on the road this past weekend. North Carolina, when it beats Duke in the second meeting between the two schools each season, historically does a lot better than when it loses the second meeting.
When North Carolina wins the second game against Duke in a given season, Roy Williams is 26-5 in the NCAA Tournament with two national titles and three Final Fours in seven tournaments. When he loses the second game to Duke, his NCAA Tournament record is 5-4 with one Sweet 16 appearance.
Bettors should note that when North Carolina wins the late-season game against Duke, the Tar Heels do well in March Madness.
Then comes a cluster of teams bunched together with Kentucky (+1000), Oklahoma (+1200), Villanova (+1200) and Virginia (+1400). Kentucky has that knack for getting into the Final Four even when it is not a high seed. Kentucky made the national championship game as a No. 8 seed in 2014, and it made the Final Four as a No. 4 seed in 2011.
John Calipari knows how to ride the Wildcats when they arrive at March Madness. Bettors trust him this time of year. Oklahoma doesn’t have a proven track record in March, but they’re respected because of Buddy Hield, one of the best and most electric players in the country. He can get on a hot streak and shoot the Sooners out of trouble.
For a long portion of the season, Xavier (+1600) had better odds to win than conference-mate Villanova, but Xavier’s recent loss to Seton Hall on February 28 dropped them. Still, Villanova hasn’t been a great bet in March as the Wildcats were a No. 2 seed in 2014 and a No. 1 seed last year when they had disappointing runs. Neither time did they get to the Sweet 16.
It’s a similar thing with Virginia. The Cavaliers might be a No. 1 seed – especially if they win the upcoming ACC Tournament. However, Virginia has also failed to make the Elite Eight each of the past two years as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. There just isn’t much of any trust with the Cavaliers right now.