The 2016 NCAA Tournament has been reduced from 68 teams to four, and one team stands out as the favorite to win the national championship. Villanova, Oklahoma and Syracuse will all compete at NRG Stadium in Houston on Saturday, but North Carolina has the best odds to cut down the nets at the end of March Madness.
Four No.1 seeds advanced to the Elite Eight, but the Tar Heels were the only ones to avoid an upset. North Carolina entered the tournament with the third-best odds to win the national title, and they are now nearly even favorites ahead of their matchup against the underdog Syracuse Orange this weekend.
The Orange are the first No.10 seed to ever reach the Final Four, pulling off two improbable comebacks in the second round of the tournament. After coming back from a 16-point second-half deficit against No.1 Virginia in the Elite Eight, oddsmakers don't expect Syracuse's improbable run to continue.
Jim Boeheim's squad is listed as a 9.5-point underdog against North Carolina. The Tar Heels have been favored in every game, while the Orange have only been favored once in the tournament.
The other matchup is expected to be much closer. In a battle of No.2 seeds, Villanova is a 2.5-point favorite over Oklahoma. The Wildcats won their first three tournament games by an average of 24 points, and they defeated No.1 overall seed Kansas by five points in the Elite Eight. Oklahoma defeated No.1 Oregon by 12 points in the Elite Eight, and senior guard Buddy Hield has been the best player in March Madness.
The over/under for both games is 146.5 points, via vegasinsider.com.
Updated NCAA Title Odds:
($100 wins ...)
North Carolina +130
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) March 28, 2016
It’s not much of a shock to see North Carolina, Oklahoma and Villanova competing for the national title, considering they all rank in the top seven of the AP Top 25 Poll. North Carolina was the preseason No.1 team in the country, while expectations have been high for Oklahoma and Villanova all season long. A championship for Syracuse, however, would arguably be the most shocking in the tournament's history.
Before the season began, the Orange had 100/1 championship odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. After Syracuse lost their first game of the ACC Tournament, they were predicted to play in the NIT, and their title odds dropped to 400/1. They are trying to become the lowest seed to ever win the tournament or even reach the national championship game.
Villanova won the title in 1985 as a No.8 seed, and Connecticut did it as a No.7 seed in 2014.