March Madness has been surprisingly predictable this year as we haven’t seen many upsets. The No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds have advanced in every region. In the Round of 32, every single favourite won straight up. So what’s in store for the next two rounds as we build to the Final Four? Let’s take a closer look at the latest futures as we get set for the Thursday and Friday games.
The Blue Devils (+300) are still favoured to win the NCAA Tournament. That’s despite a near-loss to No. 9 UCF, which nearly escaped with the biggest upset of the tournament. Was that the wakeup call the Blue Devils needed or were their flaws exposed?
The other three No. 1 seeds follow suit as Virginia (+425), Gonzaga (+450) and North Carolina (+600) are next in line.
The Cavs looked much better in their Round of 32 contest, taking care of Oklahoma. And they have a relatively easy path to the Final Four. Meanwhile, North Carolina has arguably looked like the best team in the Tournament, but they find themselves in a challenging Midwest Region. They’ll take on Auburn (+2800) next followed by a likely meeting with No. 2 Kentucky (+1200).
In the West, few teams have had an easier time of things than No. 1 Gonzaga, who has rolled its first two opponents, winning by double digits each time. Next up for them is a rematch with No. 4 Florida State (+4000), the team that knocked them out of the Sweet Sixteen last year.
Michigan State (+1000) is the first non-No. 1 seed in the odds but they haven’t played their best basketball yet. No. 15 Bradley pushed them to the limit in their opener and then the Spartans got away with a sloppy performance. They beat Minnesota by 20 but still had 16 more turnovers than them. That won’t cut it in future rounds.
Taking a look at the longshots, Auburn could give North Carolina problems, but the Tigers don’t match up well with Kentucky’s power, size and defence. On top of that, Kentucky won both regular season matchups in SEC play. So this figures to be a tough road for them to sow. Houston (+3000) similarly has to get through Kentucky and then probably North Carolina to make the Final Four. That’s rough.
Maybe Purdue (+2000) is worth a look as one of the longer shots. They have a shakey track record when the Tournament hits the Sweet Sixteen and beyond, but this team has looked really crisp in March Madness so far. They smoked No. 14 Old Dominion in their opener and then crushed the defending champs, No. 6 Villanova, with ease in the Round of 32. Next up for them is a showdown with No. 2 Tennessee (+1600), who – quite frankly – is lucky to be there. They blew a 25-point lead to Iowa before surviving in overtime and had their shakey moments with No. 15 Colgate in their opener. If Purdue keeps up their level of play, they might be a surprise entry into the Elite Eight and Final Four.