If Las Vegas odds makers are correct, Florida head coach Billy Donovan will once again cut down the nets this spring.
At 5/1 odds, the No.1 ranked Gators have the best chance of winning the third national title in the program’s history and first since it won back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007, based off the odds from VegasInsider.com.
Next up on the list is No. 5 Kansas (7/1), No. 18 Michigan State (8/1) and No. 4 Syracuse, No. 6 Duke, No. 3 Arizona, and defending champion No. 7 Louisville all listed at (10/1). Of that core group, those favored to be No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament beginning this month are Florida, Syracuse, Kansas, and the now undefeated No. 2 Wichita State (12/1).
Participants in last year’s Final Four, the Shockers completed their perfect season on Saturday with a 68-45 blowout over Missouri State. What hurts Wichita State’s chances of snagging a No. 1 seed is a low 101 strength of schedule ranking.
The Shockers have the same odds of claiming their first NCAA title as John Calipari’s fresh batch of super freshmen at Kentucky led by forward Julius Randle’s 15.5 points and 10.4 rebounds. A poor 1-4 record against ranked opponents, and a current season-high two-game losing streak could be tell-tale signs for the Wildcats.
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The Jayhawks chances might take a hit considering their seven-point upset loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday. OK State is 19-10 overall and has a sub-.500 7-9 record in the Big-12 this season.
Head coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans leapfrogged in-state rival Michigan (28/1) by a wide margin despite the Wolverines sweeping the season series. But that likely has more to do with Izzo’s 39-15 tournament record, including six Final Four appearances.
The Orangemen kept up with Wichita State’s undefeated pace until last month, and they’ve gone 1-3 in their last four games, with big losses to Duke and Saturday’s to No. 12 Virginia. A strong showing in the ACC tournament could get Jim Boeheim’s club back on track.
Duke and top freshman forward Jabari Parker helped spur Syracuse’s late season slide, and the Blue Devils are 23rd in the nation in scoring with Parker netting 18.8 per game. But a 12-4 record in the ACC and early out-of conference losses to Kansas and Arizona could mean a No. 2 seed for Duke.
Before a stunning road loss to Cal, Arizona was also on an incredible pace with another top freshman in forward Aaron Gordon and junior guard and leading scorer Nick Johnson. The Wildcats are up by three games in the Pac-12, but two of their last three regular season games are on the road. A strong showing and victory in the Pac-12 tournament should clinch them a No. 1.
UCLA (50/1) has performed well under first-year head coach Steve Alford and the Bruins have the 15th hardest schedule in the country. But they are 1-2 against ranked opponents, meaning a deep run in the Pac-12 tournament is needed to improve their seeding.
The first round NCAA Tournament begins on Tuesday, March 18 starting with a 68-team field.