The first couple of rounds of the NCAA Tournament were a bit tame for March Madness standards. However, the drama really ramped up in the second week of action. Only one No. 1 seed has survived and it’s not Duke, who was the Tournament favourite. We’re down to Virginia, Michigan State, Texas Tech and Auburn, who are each now only two wins away from becoming national champions.
Let’s take a closer look at the four squads and the odds up on the board for each team.
One year after they were stunned by the No. 16 seed UMBC in the opening round, Virginia is now the last No. 1 seed remaining. On top of that, they’re the favourite.
The Cavaliers opened at +1500 to win this tournament, but they have mixed in impressive performances and close calls. This includes burying Oklahoma in the Round of 32, edging Oregon in the Sweet 16, and needing a miracle to survive Purdue in the Elite Eight.
This is the most balanced team remaining as they’re No. 2 in the KenPom Adjusted Offensive Efficiency ratings and fifth in defence. Next up for them is a matchup against Auburn, where they’re a five-point favourite. The story of that game will be their three-point defence, which is second-best in the country, versus Auburn’s incredible three-point shooting, which has led their team to their first Final Four.
Michigan State +185
Sunday’s thrilling upset win over No. 1 Duke was one of the most incredible games of the tournament. Blue Devils fans were absolutely stunned by the loss. Now head coach Tom Izzo and the Spartans will turn their attention to the Final Four and another difficult matchup against Texas Tech.
The most intriguing aspect of Michigan State’s championship stock is the fact this team has dealt with all sorts of injuries this year and was not supposed to be Izzo’s best crop of talent. However, after their clutch win over one of the best teams in the tournament in Duke, there is no doubt this team has championship potential.
Texas Tech +425
The Red Raiders have silenced all of their critics with one of the best defensive showings in recent tournament history. Texas Tech held Michigan to an NCAA record-low 16 first-half points on the way to a 63-44 win in the Sweet 16, then knocked off Gonzaga and its nation-leading offence in the Elite Eight.
Not only do they have the best defence in the country according to the KenPom rankings, but the Red Raiders are also stocked with Jarrett Culver, who is a gifted offensive player and will be a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
If you are looking to take a chance on a sleeper pick to win it all, Auburn certainly fits that bill at +600 odds. The Tigers have taken down No. 1 seed North Carolina and No. 2 seed Kentucky in their last two games.
Auburn should be confident as they found a way to beat Kentucky without relying on threes. This team had been averaging 14.0 three-pointers per game, but only had seven against Kentucky. They should be prepared for what Virginia has to throw at them.