Final Four 2013: Opening Odds for Each Team to Win NCAA Championship

C.J. MooreCollege Basketball National Lead WriterMarch 31, 2013

Final Four 2013: Opening Odds for Each Team to Win NCAA Championship

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    Louisville was the favorite coming into the NCAA tournament, and nothing has changed after two weeks of action. 

    Even without injured guard Kevin Ware, the Cardinals proved on Sunday against Duke that they're still dominant.

    Of course, coming into this tournament, very few saw the potential of Michigan and Syracuse. Forget what you thought of each team in the regular season.

    And no one saw Wichita State even getting to Atlanta. The Shockers are a long shot, and they're used to that. 

    Who will celebrate on April 8? 

    Here are your championship odds for the four teams left. 

    **Odds courtesy of betvega.com

    **Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight.com, an American statistician who became popular for his accurate projections for the last two Presidential elections, also provided probabilities before and after each round of the tournament. 

Wichita State

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    Odds: 12/1

    Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight chance to reach the Final Four before the tourney: 1.3 percent

    Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight chance to win the tournament now: 4.7 percent

    History is against Wichita State, but history has been against the school throughout this tournament and it has mattered little. A No. 9 seed or lower has never made it to the championship game. The Shockers are the first No. 9 seed to even make the Final Four since Penn in 1979 and the first to do so since the field expanded in 1985. 

    Villanova, a No. 8 in 1985, was the lowest seed to ever win the title. The Shockers are a long shot, but similar to Butler's back-to-back national runner-ups, the Shockers have the type of complete team that can compete on this stage. They defend and they can score from every position. It also wasn't like they got through their region because the bracket broke for them. They beat two top seeds to get here. 

Syracuse

2 of 4

    Odds: 4/1

    Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight chance to reach the Final Four before the tourney: 11.7 percent

    Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight chance to win the tournament now: 19 percent

    Syracuse has a chance because of Jim Boeheim's zone defense that is as good as it has ever been.

    Syracuse opponents are shooting only 28.2 percent from beyond the arc this season—only 15.4 percent in the tournament—and the Orange block a higher percentage of two-point attempts (19.4 percent) than any team in the country. 

    Michigan poses a tough matchup because of Michigan's ability to shoot the three from four positions and with a great offensive rebounder in Mitch McGary. McGary has 14 offensive boards in the tournament. 

    A possible matchup against Louisville would not be the worst thing for Syracuse. Syracuse players have a win at Louisville and the first 25 minutes of the Big East championship to give the team some confidence. They just might want to wipe out the final 15 minutes of the Big East title game from their collective memories. 

Michigan

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    Odds: 3/1

    Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight chance to reach the Final Four before the tourney: 12.7 percent

    Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight chance to win the tournament now: 21.2 percent

    Michigan's average defense and an embarrassing loss to Penn State late in the year were popular reasons to keep Michigan off your bracket late in the tourney.

    But freshman big man Mitch McGary has totally changed the Wolverines' ceiling and improved them on both ends (and it's not like they exactly needed to improve offensively. Defensively, McGary gives Michigan a rim protector and an elite rebounder. On the offensive end, he's a better finisher than Jordan Morgan and also has a mid-range jumper. Against Kansas, McGary hit 3-of-4 mid-range Js. 

    McGary is averaging 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in the tournament. Then the Wolverines have the best point guard in college basketball, Trey Burke, and a few other NBA guards. 

    Michigan may be the only team that is well equipped to deal with the Syracuse zone and the Louisville press. Burke's ability to beat the zone and press with his passing could be huge in Atlanta. 

    It's rare that a team wins the title without an elite defense. But, if there was ever a team to do it, this would be the one. 

Louisville

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    Odds: 1/2

    Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight chance to reach the Final Four before the tourney: 52.9 percent

    Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight chance to win the tournament now: 55 percent

    All season the narrative has been that there is no one dominant team. Louisville has changed that for me. Anyone else that has witnessed the way the Cardinals have played should agree. 

    Louisville is the one team left that has been here before. This version includes a similar cast, only the Cards are playing at a much higher level and have yet to be tested in this tournament.

    Offensively, Louisville is much better than a season ago because of the improvements of Russ Smith, Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng. Smith is averaging over 26 points in the tournament and both he and Siva are nearly impossible to stop when they are attacking in the open court. 

    Both Michigan and Syracuse have the athletes to at least compete—Duke did not—but neither team is as complete as the Cardinals.