The madness is finally upon us. Tuesday marks the first day of the 2014 NCAA tournament, as Albany and Mount St. Mary's clash for the right to take on Florida, and N.C. State and Xavier compete to face St. Louis in Round 2.
Once the first round of action comes to a close, the final 64 teams will begin their journeys on Thursday in effort of obtain the coveted national title. Before all of these contests get underway, and brackets are filled out with feverish enthusiasm, it's important to know the latest trends in college basketball.
Keeping that in mind, let's break down the latest tournament odds and important picks to make as March Madness creeps closer.
Full Tournament Odds
|San Diego State||65-1|
|North Dakota State||1000-1|
|Field (Any Other Team)||100-1|
All odds current as of March 17 at 7 p.m. ET.
When taking odds into consideration, a team's seed isn't nearly as important as the possible road it must take to reach the promised land. Selecting a team that could potentially have an easy path to the championship is the way to go in this case.
Florida is one such team. With 5-1 odds, the Gators are the favorite to take it all. This is partly due to the strength of the South Region. Both Syracuse and Kansas haven't performed up to snuff lately, while Florida continues to surge. The Gators could have it easy here.
Another nice bet is Virginia at 18-1. The East Region doesn't look particularly strong, as No. 2 Villanova hasn't looked good of late. Iowa State figures to be a big threat here; however, its high-octane offense won't get many good looks against Virginia's stout defense if these two teams end up meeting each other.
Louisville looks like the best bet coming out of the Midwest Region at 8-1 odds, although, this region is really up in the air. With Wichita State, Michigan, Duke and Kentucky in the mix, it may be best to stay away from this region all together.
Full Round 2 Picks
|South||TBD vs. Florida||Florida|
|South||Pitt vs. Colorado||Pitt|
|South||Stephen F. Austin vs. VCU||VCU|
|South||Tulsa vs. UCLA||UCLA|
|South||Dayton vs. Ohio State||Ohio State|
|South||W. Michigan vs. Syracuse||Syracuse|
|South||Stanford vs. New Mexico||New Mexico|
|South||E. Kentucky vs. Kansas||Kansas|
|West||Weber State vs. Arizona||Arizona|
|West||Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma State||Oklahoma State|
|West||North Dakota State vs. Oklahoma||Oklahoma|
|West||New Mexico State vs. San Diego State||San Diego State|
|West||Nebraska vs. Baylor||Baylor|
|West||Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Creighton||Creighton|
|West||BYU vs. Oregon||Oregon|
|West||American vs. Wisconsin||Winsonsin|
|East||Coastal Carolina vs. Virginia||Virginia|
|East||George Washington vs. Memphis||Memphis|
|East||Harvard vs. Cincinnati||Cincinnati|
|East||Delaware vs. Michigan State||Michigan State|
|East||Providence vs. North Carolina||Providence|
|East||NC Central vs. Iowa State||Iowa State|
|East||St. Joe's vs. UConn||UConn|
|East||UW-Milwaukee vs. Villanova||Villanova|
|Midwest||TBD vs. Wichita State||Wichita State|
|Midwest||Kansas State vs. Kentucky||Kentucky|
|Midwest||TBD vs. St. Louis||St. Louis|
|Midwest||Manhattan vs. Louisville||Louisville|
|Midwest||TBD vs. Massachusetts||Massachusetts|
|Midwest||Mercer vs. Duke||Duke|
|Midwest||Arizona State vs. Texas||Arizona State|
|Midwest||Wofford vs. Michigan||Michigan|
Sean O'Donnell's Predictions
Keep in mind when selecting Round 2 picks that there will be upsets. It happens every year. Not every higher-ranked team will come out victorious.
Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Providence and Arizona State all have the makings to provide big upsets in Round 2. Plan your bracket accordingly.