The NCAA tournament bracket is officially set, which means that it's time for everyone to start filling out their brackets.
The wait is finally over, as the field of 68 teams has officially been drawn. There were a few surprises in terms of teams left out and teams getting lower seeds than expected, but overall the bracket is filled with some exciting matchups, especially as the tournament progresses.
With that said, let's take a look at some of the odds for the NCAA tournament, followed by some betting advice and predictions following the bracket being revealed.
You can view the official NCAA bracket here.
|Odds for Top Teams|
|Field (any other team)||30/1|
|San Diego State||40/1|
Betting Advice: Expect at Least One No. 2 or No. 3 Seed to Lose
This year's tournament seems much more balanced than usual, as there doesn't appear to be a go-to favorite team. While the No. 2 and No. 3 teams seem to have some pretty easy matchups, you shouldn't be surprised if at least one of them loses.
Over the past two seasons, we've seen three No. 2 teams lose to No. 15 teams, with the most recent coming between the Georgetown Hoyas and Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. The New Mexico Lobos lost as a No. 3 seed as well last year, falling to the Harvard Crimson.
One team that will need to be careful is the Kansas Jayhawks. While they're a very talented team, they've struggled at times with consistency, losing to teams like the Kansas State Wildcats and Oklahoma State Cowboys.
At the same time, the Jayhawks will likely be without one of their best players to start the tournament. According to KUAthletics.com, Joel Embiid could be out for the first couple of rounds, according to the following press release:
His current treatments have Embiid in the middle of the healing process, which renders him unavailable for the Big 12 Championship and unlikely to play in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
"Based on that, this weekend (in the Big 12 Championship) is out," Self said. "Next weekend, we feel like is a longshot, but the doctors are hopeful that if Joel works hard in rehab and progresses that it is possible that he could play in the later rounds of the NCAA Tournament if our team is fortunate enough to advance."
The Eastern Kentucky Colonels are coming out of the Ohio Valley Conference, but they're strong offensively, averaging 79 points per game while shooting 49 percent from the floor. Without Embiid, the Jayhawks could be on upset alert as early as their first game on Friday.
Prediction: Louisville Advances to Elite Eight
Despite a terrific season where the Louisville Cardinals went 29-5 and breezed through the AAC tournament, the defending national champions got stuck with a No. 4 seed in the Midwest region.
Gregg Doyel from CBS Sports pointed out that it seemed like the committee that made the brackets didn't have a lot of faith in the AAC.
Louisville may have gotten a lower seed than they were hoping for, but that won't keep this team from making a deep run.
The Cardinals have one of the strongest teams in the nation, led by two terrific players in Russ Smith and Montrezl Harrell. Smith has been a terrific leader as a senior, averaging 18.3 points, 4.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game. Meanwhile, Harrell has been a frightening force down low, putting up 14.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting an impressive 61.4 percent from the field.
Along with a stacked team that averages 82.1 points per game, ranking eighth in the nation, the Cardinals also have a fairly easy road to the Elite Eight. After their first game against Manhattan, the Cardinals have potential matchups against teams like Saint Louis and Wichita State.
In the event the Cardinals and Shockers advance to the Sweet 16, it's hard to not like Louisville. The Shockers may have gone 34-0 before the tourney, but they didn't play a single team with a top-25 RPI ranking (h/t ESPN.com).
I like the Cardinals to advance to the Elite Eight, but things could get a lot harder after that, with Duke and Michigan on the other side of the Midwest region.