The 2014 NCAA tournament is officially set, and everyone is looking at the odds and Final Four picks to compare with their own brackets.
The Florida Gators, the Arizona Wildcats, the Wichita State Shockers and the Virginia Cavaliers were all able to grab No. 1 seeds, but there doesn't appear to be a clear, go-to favorite to win it all this year like there has been in previous seasons.
There are 68 teams fighting for four spots in the Final Four, so let's take a look at predictions for each region along with complete odds for the entire field.
|2014 NCAA Tournament Odds|
|4||San Diego St.||65-1|
|12||North Carolina St.||900-1|
|12||North Dakota St.||1,000-1|
|12||Stephen F. Austin||N/A|
|13||New Mexico St.||N/A|
|16||Mt. St. Mary’s||100-1|
|N/A||Field (Any Other Team)||100-1|
|Source: Vegas Insider|
Final Four Predictions
South: No. 1 Florida Gators
As the No. 1 overall seed, the Florida Gators might just be the best team in college basketball, and they shouldn't have too much trouble getting through the South region.
Offensively, the Gators aren't a bad team, but the reason they've gone 32-2 this season is because of their top-tier defense. They've held opponents to just 57.9 points per game, ranking third in the nation, with opponents shooting just 39.9 percent from the field. Will Yeguete and Patric Young are dominant down low, with defensive ratings of 89.4 and 91.4, according to Sports-Reference.com.
With such a strong defense, the Gators should be fine in the South.
West: No. 3 Creighton Bluejays
In order to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, you need a player that can play at a high level on the national stage and take over when needed. The Creighton Bluejays have just that in Doug McDermott.
The obvious choice for the Wooden Award, McDermott has had a fantastic year. This season, he's averaged 26.9 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while shooting 52.5 percent from the field and 45.4 percent from behind the arc.
While McDermott is having a terrific season, the Bluejays as a whole are a terrific team offensively. They've been one of the most efficient scoring teams all year, averaging 49.9 percent shooting with 42.1 percent from downtown, ranking fourth and first in the country respectively.
With an offense like the one Creighton has, it should be able to hang with teams like Wisconsin and Arizona and make a run at the Final Four.
East: No. 4 Michigan State Spartans
When healthy, the Michigan State Spartans are arguably the most talented team in the nation, and Tom Izzo's squad is getting hot at exactly the right time.
Right now, the Spartans have it all. They have a star-filled backcourt with Gary Harris and Keith Appling along with a dominant center down low in Adreian Payne, who is putting up 15.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while shooting 51.2 percent from the floor. With so many star players, the Spartans do a great job of distributing the ball, ranking sixth in the nation with 17.1 assists per game.
While there is plenty of talent in the East Region, no one can keep up with a healthy Spartans team, and they have a serious shot at a national title run.
Midwest: No. 4 Louisville Cardinals
Seriously, how are the Louisville Cardinals only a No. 4 seed?
It seems like the AAC didn't get any love from the committee this year, but the fact that the Cardinals, which are ranked No. 5 in the latest AP poll, were given such a low seed is quite surprising. Nick Mathews from the Houston Chronicle was just as surprised.
Offensively, the Cardinals are one of the best in the nation, averaging 82.1 points per game. Russ Smith and Montrezl Harrell have been dominant all year, averaging 18.3 and 14.2 points, respectively. With a 12-1 record in their last 13 games and an average winning margin of 21.1 points per game all year, the Cardinals look just as good this season as they did last year.
Still, this is a very tough region with Wichita State, Duke and Michigan all searching for a Final Four bid, and the Cardinals are going to have to stay hot to survive.