With a few of the best teams in the NCAA Tournament suffering early exits, a new March Madness 2017 favorite has emerged. Heading into the Sweet 16, Kansas has tied North Carolina for the best betting odds to win college basketball’s national championship.
The Jayhawks have replaced Duke as the second favorite, following the Blue Devils’ second-round loss to South Carolina. Duke began the tournament with the same odds as the Tar Heels, but Kansas looked like the country’s best team over the first weekend of March Madness. After cruising to a 38-point victory over No.16 UC Davis in the first round, the Midwest region’s No.1 seed topped No.9 Michigan State by 20 points Sunday afternoon.
North Carolina made it through to the Sweet 16, but they weren’t overly impressive in doing so. They were nearly upset by No.8 Arkansas in the Round of 32, overcoming a five-point deficit with less than three minutes remaining.
It wouldn’t be shocking for North Carolina to be upset before the Final Four, considering three of the top six title contenders are in the South region. UCLA and Kentucky both have 7/1 odds before their Sweet 16 matchup in Memphis.
Kansas would play either North Carolina, UCLA or Kentucky in the Final Four, giving only one a chance to reach the national championship game. Whichever team wins the right side of the bracket, they are expected to face the winner of the West region. No.1 Gonzaga and No.2 Arizona are tied as the third favorites in the field.
It would be surprising to see the national champion emerge from the East region. Both Duke and the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats were eliminated in the Round of 32, leaving No.3 Baylor and No.4 Florida as the region’s top teams. The title odds for Arizona and Gonzaga are three times better than that of both Baylor and Florida.
As the only double-digit seed in the Sweet 16, No.11 Xavier has the worst championship odds at 100/1. No.7 South Carolina is the only other team with worse than 40/1 odds.
Here are the national championship odds from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook:
North Carolina 4/1
West Virginia 18/1
South Carolina 80/1