The greatest basketball tournament in the history of the sport never disappoints. Two of the top seeds lost in the first weekend, with Purdue becoming just the second top seed in history to lose in the first round to a 16-seed. Break out Fairleigh Dickenson (although sadly their Tournament ended two days later).
Defending champion Kansas lost to Arkansas, Arizona lost to Princeton, and fellow two-seed Marquette was beaten by Tom Izzo and Michigan State.
Sixteen teams remain, and this is who the oddsmakers are favoring to win it all.
Favorites to Win Final Four
Alabama Crimson Tide (+350)
Houston Cougars (+360)
UCLA Bruins (+850)
Texas Longhorns (+1000)
Connecticut Huskies (+1000)
Creighton Blue Jays (+1100)
Tennessee Volunteers (+1100)
Gonzaga Bulldogs (+1200)
Michigan State Spartans (+2500)
Kansas State Wildcats (+3000)
Arkansas Razorbacks (+3500)
Xavier Musketeers (+3500)
San Diego State Aztecs (+4000)
Miami Hurricanes (+4500)
Florida Atlantic Owls (+4500)
Princeton Tigers (+20000)
Since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985, this is just the fourth time that multiple No. 1 seeds failed to get to the Sweet-16. And now, with just two top seeds remaining, not surprisingly, they are the two heavy favorites to win the NCAA title. Alabama has the easiest path, with only a fifth seed, a six seed, and a 15th seed left in the South Region.
Houston faces the Miami Hurricanes in the Sweet-16, and the winner there will play the winner of Xavier and Texas. The NCAA Tournament is now without blue bloods Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and Kentucky, but UCLA is plenty blue, and they are the highest seed remaining in the West.
The Kansas State Wildcats were picked in the NCAA preseason to finish dead last in the Big 12. Instead, America’s coach, Jerome Tang, who is having more fun than anyone else left in the Tournament, has K-State as the highest remaining seed in the East. Up next for the Wildcats, who just knocked off Kentucky, is Michigan State.
Favorites to Win Each Region
East – Tennessee (+130)
West – UCLA (+210)
South – Alabama (-140)
Midwest – Houston (-115)
Alabama and Houston are favorites to get things closed out in their regions and make it to the Final Four. In the East, however, Tennessee is only the fourth seed, and they are favored over No. 3 seed K-State (+350). Even No. 7 seed Michigan State (+300) is favored over the Wildcats.
UCLA is the No. 2 seed in the West and is playing in Las Vegas, just up the 15 Freeway from L.A. But at +210, they are actually tied with UConn as West favorites. Just behind them is Gonzaga at +240. Arkansas, who beat Kansas, is at +550.
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Only 15 NCAA Tournament games remain, and 12 NCAA teams will be eliminated this weekend. Baseball begins in less than two weeks, the NBA and NHL Playoffs aren’t far away, and the NFL Draft is here in a month.
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