SBR contributor Ross Benjamin continues his coverage on the NCAA Tournament’s East Region. Ross discusses the four remaining teams chances of winning a national championship in respect to present college basketball betting odds.
The NCAA Tournament East Region semifinal matchups are set for Friday at Madison Square Garden in New York. It’s worth noting that the East is the only region in which both top seeds were knocked out before the Sweet 16. Top-seeded Villanova was upset by Wisconsin on Saturday, and No. 2 Duke sustained a shocking loss on Sunday against South Carolina. Based on current March Madness odds, the East Region is arguably the toughest to pick a winner. That’s further proven by No. 8 seed Wisconsin being the NCAA basketball betting favorite to reach the Final Four in Phoenix.
Odds listed in this article are calculated by a consensus of the best sportsbooks.
No. 8 Seed Wisconsin (+800)
It seems that all the Badgers have done during recent years is win games in March. Wisconsin has reached the Sweet 16 for a fourth straight year and has additionally done so in 6 of the last 7 NCAA Tournaments. Since 2011, Wisconsin is an outstanding 15-6 during NCAA Tournament games, the Badgers have advanced to a pair of Final Fours and lost to Duke in the 2015 title game.
You can’t undervalue a program like Wisconsin, which has developed such a consistent winning culture. The Badgers aren’t happy with just reaching this point -- they fully expect to win. This is also a veteran-laden group with a plethora of experience in big games. They may get beat at some point before it’s all said and done, but a lack of confidence won’t be the reason why.
No. 4 Florida (+1200)
For starters, I would be remiss not to toot my own horn. While writing an article on my March Madness predictions prior to the onset of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, I chose Florida at 30/1 national championship futures odds as one of my sleeper teams. Now here’s the reality: the Gators must win four more games before I can truly pound on my chest to a point where it becomes black and blue. Nevertheless, the Gators have been very impressive in a 15-point win over New Mexico State and during a 65-39 shellacking of No. 5 seed Virginia on Saturday. Considering they’re the second-highest seed remaining in the East behind Baylor, I like their chances of reaching the Final Four for a first time since 2014.
No. 3 Baylor (+1500)
The Bears got the monkey off their backs after being upset by a double-digit seed in each of the previous 2 NCAA Tournaments. Since the Big Dance expanded to a 64- team field, and subsequently to 68, Baylor has failed to make a Final Four. This year will be by far the Bears' best opportunity to do so. Although Baylor struggled a bit during the second half of its Big 12 schedule, BU owns an unbeaten non-conference resume against teams that made this year’s March Madness event.
No. 7 South Carolina (+5000)
Kudos to the Gamecocks for reaching their first-ever Sweet 16 following a stunning upset win over Duke on Sunday. However, their first two tournament games were played in Greenville, which is just 103 miles from USC's campus. Those contests might as well have been played on their home floor in Columbia, and how the NCAA Tournament committee allowed a No. 7 seed that type of advantage is mind boggling. Anyway, enough ranting, and my advice is to play the state lottery instead of betting on South Carolina to win it all.