The Big Dogs
No. 1 overall seed Florida still tops the betting at every NCAA championship board we consulted; the best championship odds we could find on the Gators was the 7/2 being offered at Bovada. Florida dispatched of its first two tournament opponents, Albany and Pitt, without too much difficulty, and now meets UCLA in a South regional semifinal Thursday night. And if the Gators can take care of business there, they'd get either a 10 seed, Stanford, or an 11 seed, Dayton, in the regional final.
The next two teams on the boards are both four seeds, Louisville and Michigan State. The Cardinals began defense of their national championship with a tough win over Manhattan and an ugly win against St. Louis, while the Spartans, a hot betting item coming into the tournament, dumped Delaware, then pulled out a tough victory over a game Harvard.
Louisville now meets rival Kentucky in a Midwest regional semifinal Friday night, and with a victory would then meet either second-seeded Michigan or 11th-seeded Tennessee. Michigan State, meanwhile, takes on top-seeded Virginia in an East semifinal Friday, and with a win would then get either third-seeded Iowa State or seventh-seeded UConn.
The best updated price we could find on the Spartans to win the tournament was the +450 at The Greek, while the Cardinals could be gotten at 5/1 at Bovada.
Arizona came next on most championship boards, getting 6/1 at Bovada. The Wildcats droned their way to a win over Weber State in their tournament opener, then gouged Gonzaga 84-61. Arizona now gets fourth-seeded San Diego State in a West regional semifinal Thursday night, and with a win would play either second-seeded Wisconsin or sixth-seeded Baylor in the regional final.
The Next Tier
Coach Bennett's Virginia squad, which earned the top seed in the East after winning both the ACC's regular-season and tournament titles, was being offered at 10/1 on Bovada's championship board. But the Cavs will have their hands full when they meet Michigan State Friday night.
Next up comes a pair of Big Ten teams, Michigan and Wisconsin, both getting 16/1 at Bovada. The Wolverines, questing for a return trip to the Final Four, have looked pretty good in beating Wofford and Texas in the tournament, while the Badgers, after beating American by 40 points in the first round, played a superb second half in rallying to defeat Oregon in the second round.
Wisconsin now encounters a hot Baylor team in a West regional semifinal Thursday night, and with a win would get either Arizona or San Diego State. Meanwhile, Michigan now meets a hot Tennessee team in a Midwest regional semifinal Friday night, and with a victory would then run into either Louisville or eighth-seeded Kentucky.
Steve Alford's UCLA team follows, getting 18/1 at Bovada. The Bruins have almost been playing under the radar this season; heck, they weren't even ranked a few weeks ago. But they won the Pac-12 tournament, and have since knocked off Tulsa and Stephen F. Austin to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in five years. UCLA takes on top-seeded Florida Thursday night, and with a win would then get either Stanford, whom they've beaten twice already this season, or 11th-seeded Dayton.
Then we come to Kentucky, which has been bet down to as low as 12/1 at some shops, like The Greek, but can still be gotten at 20/1 at Bovada.
Others in that same range include Baylor at 20/1 at Bovada, and third-seeded Iowa State, with a date Friday against seventh-seeded UConn, also at 20/1 at Bovada.
Rounding out the NCAA championship betting boards are Tennessee at 28/1 at Bovada; those Connecticut Huskies, getting 33/1 at Bovada; San Diego State at +3500 at The Greek; Stanford at +5000 at The Greek; and Dayton at 100/1 at Bovada.
We took Michigan State at 7/1 for our NCAA Tournament picks just before the tournament started; you can't get 7/1 on Sparty anymore, so we feel good about that.
For back-up bets we'd consider Coach Drew's Baylor team at 20/1; Kentucky at 20/1; and Iowa State at 20/1.