NCAA Tournament Regional Finals Best Underdog Plays

Doug Upstone

Saturday, March 24, 2018 4:09 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 24, 2018 4:09 PM UTC

We are down to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament and it has been a wild ride, as per usual. The question at the moment is will the chaos continue or will the higher seeds finally take over?

Our mission at the moment is to look into the four Regional Finals and try and determine what underdogs could possibly win outright or at the very least cover the spread against the college basketball odds versus their favored opponent. Our methodology will include one writer/handicapper's opinion and those of ESPN's FiveThirtyEight win probability model. We will provide underdogs in the order the games will be played, starting with the first one Saturday.

Loyola-Chicago - FiveThirtyEight, Ramblers 34% chance of winning

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Loyola's matchup with Kansas State in the nearly impossible South region assures us of one very high seed will advance. The Ramblers win probability seems low given they are only a one-point dog, but the difference in the Big 12 vs. the Missouri Valley no doubt plays a part. Nevertheless, I like Loyola's chance of winning this game outright since they are as good defensively as K-State and are less prone to scoring droughts which can bury an underdog like we saw with West Virginia on Friday night.

Loyola-Chicago- 65% chance to cover

Florida State - FiveThirtyEight, Seminoles 33% chance of winning

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Though the talent was in place, Florida State seldom played consistently enough and its current three-game winning streak is their longest in two months. The Seminoles are here thanks to a suffocating defense and making key shots at all the right times. My concern with them winning and covering the +4.5 point spread is Michigan really understands how to control the pace. Match that opportunistic ability to score off defensive lapses and superior backcourt play. The party ends here for the Noles.

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Florida State Seminoles men’s basketball team advances to the elite 8 for the first time since 1993 as they defeat Gonzaga 75-60.

— Bryan Jamal (@BryanJ772) March 23, 2018

Florida State - 35% chance to cover

Texas Tech - FiveThirtyEight, Red Raiders 17% chance of winning

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On Sunday we start returning to the higher seeds, beginning in the East Regional. Now completely healthy and confident, No. 3 Texas Tech is making its first-ever Elite 8 appearance. Oddsmakers have them as the biggest underdog of this round at +6.5. The Red Raiders have been a solid defensive club all year and it will be imperative they dictate the tempo of the game in order to possibly engineer the upset and or cover the spread. That's where the problem comes in. Teams can hang with the Wildcats and then they go on 10-0 run over 120 seconds. That is when the pressure builds for the trailing team and how they react matters. For college basketball picks, Texas Tech has a shot to cover.

Texas Tech - 40% chance to cover Kansas - FiveThirtyEight, Jayhawks 46% chance of winning

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We have been waiting for a marquee matchup and we have one in the Midwest Regional. Kansas is the top seed but is a 3.5-point underdog to No. 2 Duke. Though they did not play like it early in the season, the Blue Devils are the most talented team in the country and figured out how to play together after back-to-back losses to St. John's and North Carolina in early February. Kansas is playing their best basketball of the season at exactly the right time and though the sample size is quite small, the Jayhawks are 3-1 SU and ATS as underdogs this season. Catching the half-point could prove invaluable.

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ELITE EIGHT BOUND!! A double-double from Udoka Azubuike and four Jayhawks with double figures help #KUbball to a win over Clemson #MarchMadness

— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) March 24, 2018

Kansas - 55% chance to cover

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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