No.1 Kentucky (even money) has been made the clear favorite in Las Vegas to win the 2015 NCAA Tournament and cut down the nets on April 6, via RJ Bell of pregame.com. If the Wildcats somehow lose for the first time this season, it might come against a team in the West region.
No.1 Wisconsin (8/1) and No.2 Arizona (10/1) are considered to post two of the biggest threats to John Calipari’s undefeated team. The Badgers are tied with No.1 Duke (8/1) as the second-favorite in the tournament, and No.1 Villanova (10/1) isn’t far behind. Arizona was nearly named the top seed in one of the four regions, having won the Pac-12 Tournament and bringing an 11-game winning streak into March Madness.
Based on rankings in the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll, Villanova should be the second favorite to win it all. Villanova might have the easiest path to the Final Four, besides Kentucky, considering the top teams in the East region haven’t been playing their best basketball of late. Two of Virginia’s three losses have come since March 7, while No.4 Louisville (80/1) has lost two of their last three and five of their last 10 games. No.5 Northern Iowa (85/1) is ranked No.11 in the AP Top 25, but history has not been kind to No.5 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
Wisconsin and Arizona could be on a collision course to meet in the Elite Eight for a second straight season. In last year’s West Regional Final, the Badgers advanced to the Final Four with an overtime victory over Arizona, as Wisconsin was the No.2 seed and Arizona was the top seed.
While Arizona is one of the favorites to reach the Final Four, No.2 Kansas (45/1) hasn’t been given very good odds of winning the title, ranking behind No.3 Notre Dame (25/1) in the Midwest. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if No.2 Virginia (12/1) or No.2 Gonzaga (22/1) reached the Final Four.
No.3 Iowa State (30/1) has better championship odds than Kansas, No.3 Baylor (45/1) and No.3 Oklahoma (60/1). The Cyclones entered the 2014 NCAA Tournament as one of the favorites in their region, but Georges Niang broke his foot in the Round of 64, severely hurting the team's chances of making the Final Four. The forward is now healthy, leading Iowa State with 15.5 points per game, adding 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest.
No.7 Michigan State (70/1) could be the 2015 version of last year’s Kentucky team. The Wildcats entered the tournament as a No.8 seed, but their 33/1 championship odds puts them behind just 13 other teams. Kentucky ended up losing in the national championship.
Only three teams in the East and 15 teams overall have better odds of winning the title than the Spartans. Under head coach Tom Izzo, Michigan State is seemingly in the title hunt every year. They have made 12 Sweet Sixteen appearances in the last 17 years.
No.4 Georgetown is back in the NCAA Tournament, but the oddsmakers haven’t forgotten their recent March Madness history. They are not one of the 21 teams that have been given championship odds better than 100/1. The Hoyas have worse odds than the likes of No.5 Utah (60/1), No.6 SMU (80/1), No.7 Wichita State (80/1) and No.5 West Virginia (90/1). Georgetown has failed to advance beyond the first weekend in their last five tournament appearances, including their 2013 loss to No.15 FGCU.
Final Four Prediction
Kentucky, Arizona, Villanova, Iowa State
National Championship Game
Kentucky over Villanova