Elite Eight Predictions: Latest Championship Odds for Every Team

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 30, 2013

Elite Eight Predictions: Latest Championship Odds for Every Team

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    Don't worry. The madness isn't coming to an end, it's just getting started as only eight elite teams are still dancing this March. 

    Plenty of favorites have fallen through the first four rounds of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, giving rise to a handful of Cinderellas, but only the best will survive and advance this weekend. Top seeds Louisville and Ohio State are still the favorites to cut down the nets in Atlanta on April 8, but there are six other teams who will each have a say in whether they do.

    Here we'll run down the entire Elite Eight field and present predictions and championship odds for each.

    *All championship odds according to Sportsbook.com.

No. 9 Wichita State Shockers

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    Wichita State is in the Elite Eight for the first time in over 30 years, but the Shockers will need to pull off another stunning upset if they are going to earn the program's first Final Four berth since the mid-1960s.

    Gregg Marshall's bunch will be an underdog against Ohio State on Saturday, just like it was against West Region No. 1 seed Gonzaga a week ago.

    Although they are a strong rebounding team and boast vital senior leadership, the Shockers don't possess an elite go-to scorer who can overcome the Buckeyes' stifling, championship-caliber defense.

    It's been a wild run for the Missouri Valley Conference runners-up, but look for the clock to strike midnight on Wichita State in the Elite Eight this weekend.

    Projected Finish: Elite Eight

    Championship Odds: +2500

No. 3 Marquette Golden Eagles

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    Consider Marquette lucky to still be dancing this spring. The Golden Eagles were nearly sent home in the round of 64 by 14th-seeded Davidson, but thanks to the heroics of star guard Vander Blue, Buzz Williams' underrated Big East club is still alive in the journey to Atlanta. 

    Like its Elite Eight opponent, Syracuse, Marquette is aiming to earn its first Final Four bid in 10 years this weekend, but it will be an underdog to reach Atlanta. 

    Still, you have to love the way Marquette has battled thus far, surviving an early scare from Davidson, coming from behind against Butler and blasting Miami from the opening tip. In the end, though, Syracuse's fearsome zone defense is too good to pick against. 

    The Golden Eagles have done well to get this far, but their run will end in the nation's capital on Saturday.

    Projected Finish: Elite Eight

    Championship Odds: +1000

No. 4 Michigan Wolverines

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    Trey Burke and the Michigan Wolverines looked ready to exit the tournament in the Sweet 16 before mounting a furious comeback on Friday night, edging top seed Kansas in overtime. 

    Now, the Wolverines have new life and will be looking to reach the Final Four for the first time in 20 years on Sunday. 

    If there's one major concern, though, it's that the Wolverines can become too dependent on Burke, who led the way with 23 points and 10 assists against the Jayhawks in the Sweet 16.

    As a team Michigan has looked both dominant and vulnerable at times this March, but with the Wolverines set to enter uncharted territory in the Elite Eight against Florida on Sunday, the Final Four seems like a bit of a stretch for Burke and company.

    Projected Finish: Elite Eight

    Championship Odds: +800

No. 2 Duke Blue Devils

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    For the first time since 2010 the Duke Blue Devils are into the Elite Eight, one win away from the Final Four.

    Unfortunately for Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils, though, standing in their way of a trip to Atlanta are the blazing Louisville Cardinals, winners of 13 consecutive games. Not to mention Louisville will have added motivation as the Cardinals will be looking to avenge their November loss to Duke.

    The key stat to keep in mind for the Blue Devils is 21-1. That's Duke's record this season with senior forward Ryan Kelly in the lineup.

    But Duke caught Louisville just six games into the season last fall. This Louisville team is playing on an entirely different level right now, inside and out. Look for Duke's NCAA Tournament run to come to an end this weekend, one step shy of the Final Four.

    Projected Finish: Elite Eight

    Championship Odds: +550

No. 4 Syracuse Orange

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    Not too many people gave James Southerland and the fourth-seeded Syracuse Orange much of a chance against No. 1 Indiana in the Sweet 16, but after a shocking 11-point win over the Hoosiers, Jim Boeheim's team look ready for a run to the Final Four.

    Syracuse is in the Elite Eight for the second straight year and will be the favorite in its East Regional final matchup with Big East rival Marquette on Saturday.

    The two teams met once already this season back in February, with Marquette winning a hard-fought game on its home floor. But I like the Orange, on the strength of their vaunted 2-3 zone defense to upend the third-seeded Golden Eagles this weekend, earning their first Final Four berth in 10 years.

    Syracuse has a real shot at winning it all this spring, but with Michigan and Florida still alive on their side of the bracket, look for Boeheim and company's run to end next weekend.

    Projected Finish: Final Four

    Championship Odds: +500

No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Winners of 11 straight games, the second-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes will be favored against ninth-seeded Cinderella Wichita State on Saturday in the West Regional final in Los Angeles, and for good reason.

    The Big Ten champions have proved through the first few rounds of the tournament that they can win in a variety of way and that they aren't going to fade in big moments.

    Led by superstar Deshaun Thomas, who's averaging 22 points per game on 57.5 percent shooting from the field, Thad Matta's Buckeyes look poised to return to the Final Four for the second straight year in 2013.

    Still, with either a loaded Louisville or Duke squad awaiting Ohio State in Atlanta, it's difficult to imagine Ohio State returning to the National Championship Game for the second time in six years.

    Projected Finish: Final Four

    Championship Odds: +350

No. 3 Florida Gators

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    For the third straight year, Billy Donovan's Florida Gators are playing for a trip to the Final Four. But the South Region No. 3 seed is hoping 2013's Elite Eight showdown with Michigan produces a different result than the past two Regional finals against Louisville and Butler.

    There's a good chance Florida will finally break through on Sunday.

    A top-10 shooting team this season hitting better than 48 percent from the field as a team, Florida's offense is nearly impossible to keep under wraps.

    Florida has the talent, coaching and experience to win it all in 2013, but you have to believe the Gators' inability to execute late in close games will cost them at some point in this tournament, perhaps in the biggest game of the year. 

    Projected Finish: Runner-Up

    Championship Odds: +450

No. 1 Louisville Cardinals

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    Behind some out-of-this-world play from guard Russ Smith, Louisville will cruise into its Elite Eight matchup with Duke/Michigan State on Sunday in Indianapolis. 

    Rick Pitino's Cardinals have looked like the best team in the country since mid-February, winning 13 straight games over the past six weeks. 

    In addition to momentum, history is also on Louisville's side. The Cardinals are the last remaining No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and since 1992, 15 No. 1 seeds have won it all, including the Kentucky Wildcats in 2012.

    It's difficult to imagine Louisville losing another game this season. There isn't a more talented or hotter team at the moment, and that's why I like the Cardinals to win it all for the first time since 1986 this spring. 

    Projected Finish: National Champion

    Championship Odds: +250

     

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