It might be too early to confirm, but after one round it appears Las Vegas odds makers were dead on when they called for Florida and Michigan State to make the Final Four.
The No. 1 Gators survived an early scare from Albany for a 67-55 victory and head coach Tom Izzo’s No. 3 Spartans trounced Delaware 93-78 behind 41 points and eight rebounds from senior forward Adreian Payne in the second round on Thursday.
Before the tournament began, Florida was a 5/1 favorite to reach the Final Four and capture the third championship in school history, and Michigan State was just behind at 11/2 odds, according to Vegas Insider.
The Spartans have made eight trips to the Final Four, with the last six coming under Izzo and his 40-15 tournament record. Though the Gators Billy Donovan has guided the program to three Final Fours and has one more title than Izzo, and is creeping up the record books with a 32-11 tourney mark.
The two schools expected to join Florida and Michigan State at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in a few short weeks are No. 1 Arizona (8/1) and No.4 Louisville (8/1).
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The defending champion Cardinals survived arguably the biggest upset bid of the tournament’s first day after they needed clutch shooting from Luke Hancock and Russ Smith in the final four minutes to squeak past No. 13 Manhattan 71-64.
Just like the Gators and Spartans, Louisville has its own decorated coach to call the shots as the tournament gets tighter and tighter. Over 28 years of college experience, Rick Pitino owns two NCAA titles and has made seven Final Fours for a 49-16 tournament record.
Undefeated for most of the season until early February, the Wildcats haven’t faced their first tournament test yet, but meet No. 16 Weber State at 2:10 p.m. EST on Friday.
Junior guard Nick Johnson and freshman forward and NBA prospect Aaron Gordon will likely serve as Arizona’s best chances to make the Final Four for the first time since 2001’s runner-up finish.
Wildcats head coach Sean Miller has led two different schools to the NCAAs, and has made the Elite Eight and Sweet 16 twice.
The No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks are next up at 10/1, followed by undefeated No. 1 Wichita State at 15/1, and No. 3 Syracuse, No. 3 Duke and No. 1 Virginia all listed at 18/1.