NCAA Tournament Betting: Florida Favored To Win Third Title This Century
by Bovada Sportsbook Staff | March 17, 2014
The last time the Florida Gators were the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, things worked out pretty well for Billy Donovan’s club. That was in 2007 and the Gators repeated as national champions, the last team to do so. That was also the last time Florida made a Final Four.
The Gators enter the 2014 Big Dance as the top overall seed, the SEC regular-season and tournament champion and on a 26-game winning streak so little surprise they are the 11/2 overall favorite to win the title at Bovada. UF is also 9/5 to win its South Region, which is loaded with some of college basketball’s blue bloods. Florida shouldn’t have much trouble with either No. 16 Albany or No. 16 Mount Saint Mary’s, who play one of Tuesday’s First Four matchups, in the second round, and then the Gators play the winner between No. 8 Colorado-No. 9 Pittsburgh this weekend.
However, then No. 4 UCLA (50/1 to win tournament), the Pac-12 Tournament champion, could be awaiting in the Sweet 16, while both No. 2 Kansas (10/1) and No. 3 Syracuse (20/1) are in the bottom half of the bracket. SU was No. 1 for a large chunk of this season before struggling down the stretch. Kansas is the wild card because star freshman center Joel Embiid is not expected to play this week because of back trouble and it’s no sure thing he can play next week either.
Defending national champion Louisville is the second-favorite to win the tournament at 7/1 along with Michigan State. The odd thing there is that both are No. 4 seeds, not No. 1. Only one No. 4 seed has ever won it all: Arizona in 1997. Two No. 4s did make the Final Four last year, Syracuse and Michigan, with the Wolverines losing to Louisville in the championship game.
Louisville is the American Athletic Conference Tournament champion and has won 12 of its past 13 games. The reason the team got such a low seed was a poor non-conference schedule. U of L only played two ranked teams in the non-conference slate and lost to North Carolina and Kentucky. Louisville is 8/5 to win the Midwest Region and could face either No. 1 Wichita State (10/1 to win tournament) or Kentucky (33/1) in the Sweet 16. WSU is the lone unbeaten team in the nation and pushed Louisville to the limit in last year’s Final Four. Yet it’s only the third-favorite to win the Midwest at 4/1, behind Louisville and No. 3 Duke (7/2).
Michigan State beat Michigan on Sunday for the Big Ten Tournament title. The Spartans were a preseason national title favorite but had some injury problems this season and underachieved. They are healthy now and showed that against the rival Wolverines. The Spartans are 5/2 favorites to win the East Region. Every player who has stayed four years under coach Tom Izzo has reached a Final Four. That streak will end this year if MSU doesn’t make it. East No. 1 Virginia, the ACC regular-season and tournament champion, is 11/4 to win the region (10/1 to win tournament) with No. 3 Villanova at 15/4 (and 20/1).
Finally, Pac-12 regular-season champ Arizona is the West Region’s top seed and is 9/1 to win its first title since ’97 and 2/1 to win the West. It does appear to be the weakest region. Wisconsin is No. 2 (4/1 to win region, 20/1 to win tournament), Creighton No. 3 (4/1 and 20/1) and San Diego State at No. 4 (9/1 and 50/1). Arizona won at San Diego State early this season.
The lowest seed ever to make the Final Four is a No. 11, last accomplished by VCU in 2011. The lowest seed to win the tournament was a No. 8, by Villanova in 1985. The team with the shortest odds to win the Big Dance outside of the top-four seeds is No. 8 Kentucky, which was the preseason betting favorite and No. 1 team in the polls.