After a wild first weekend, the field in the NCAA Tournament has been narrowed to just 16 teams. We saw an incredible array of upsets in the first wave of games highlighted by UMBC defeating Virginia to become the first No. 16 ever to beat a No. 1 seed. The top four seeds are all out in the South Region and only two of the four No. 1 seeds (Villanova and Kansas) remain. Down to the Sweet 16, here is a look at the odds to win the NCAA Tournament.
No. 2 Duke is favored (+325) as the Blue Devils prepare to meet No. 11 Syracuse on Friday. A lot of people wondered why they were favored over No. 1 seeds like Virginia and Xavier, and now we have our answer. The Blue Devils have been shooting the lights out so far, nailing 23 of 51 from the three-point line over their first two games. Next is Villanova (+450), which ran through Radford by 26 points in the first round before a 23-point beating of Alabama. It is tough to stop Villanova from scoring, but if the Wildcats continue to play defense like they have in the first two rounds, they are going to be almost impossible to beat.
Kentucky (+700), Gonzaga (+700), Michigan (+800) and Kansas (+850) are the next wave of teams. After these teams, there is a huge jump as no one else is inside of +1500.
Kansas is a No. 1 seed and has had mixed results so far. The Jayhawks beat Pennsylvania by 16 before squeaking out a four-point win over Seton Hall. Many thought that the Jayhawks didn’t deserve that seeding but so far, so good. We’ll learn a lot more about them on Friday against a Clemson team that rolled through its first two games. Kentucky seems to have a solid path to the Final Four, although the Wildcats have to grind past Kansas State on Thursday. They beat Davidson by five before rolling to a 20-point win over Buffalo but feel like they still have one more gear in them.
The Wolverines are riding their defense as they held Montana to 32.1 percent shooting in a 14-point win, then limited Houston to 37 percent in a one-point win. The latter was produced by a buzzer-beater from Jordan Poole in one of the best moments of the tournament. Gonzaga beat UNC Greensboro by four points and then won by six over Ohio State. Like Kentucky, it feels like the Bulldogs can play better. They have shown that they can win a defensive game, as well as an offensive game.
The rest of the field is as follows: Purdue (+1600), West Virginia (+1600), Texas Tech (+2200), Texas A&M (+2500), Clemson (+2500), Nevada (+2500), Kansas State (+2800), Florida State (+4000), Loyola-Chicago (+5000) and Syracuse (+6600). Out of this group, Clemson might be the most impressive so far as the Tigers beat New Mexico State by 11 points, then destroyed Auburn by 31. Nevada has needed a couple of big comebacks but you have to wonder how many times the Wolf Pack can do that. Finally, Texas A&M looked great in a 21-point win over the defending champions from North Carolina, but the Aggies might need an even better performance than that against Michigan on Thursday.