NCAA Tournament 2014 Bracket: Tournament Odds and Smart Underdog Picks

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 6:  Sean Kilpatrick #23 of the Cincinnati Bearcats celebrates during the game against the Connecticut Huskies at Fifth Third Arena on February 6, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati won its 15th straight game, 63-58 over the Huskies. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The NCAA tournament is something of a sports gambler’s dream. 

The bracket is easy to follow and entertaining to fill out, the format for almost every office pool across the country is the same and underdogs shake up the field every season. It’s no wonder the sports books in Las Vegas are so crowded in late March.

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Bleacher Report

With that in mind, here is a look at the overall tournament odds for every team in the field.

Odds to Win 2014 NCAA Tournament (as of 3/18)
Michigan State11-2
Wichita State15-1
Iowa State40-1
North Carolina50-1
Oklahoma State60-1
San Diego State65-1
Ohio State65-1
New Mexico115-1
Saint Louis125-1
Kansas State300-1
Saint Joseph's350-1
Arizona State500-1
George Washington500-1
North Carolina State900-1
North Dakota State1,000-1
Las Vegas Insiders

While chances are one of the favorites will take home the national championship, who’s to say this isn’t the year that a middle-of-the-road underdog wins it all? Let’s go over some smart underdog picks.


Feel free to joke about the inclusion of Kentucky all you want, but aren’t you even a little tempted to look at the Wildcats with 50-1 odds?

After all, we are talking about the team that many pegged for an undefeated finish heading into the season. All that talent simply didn't vanish.

On paper, the combination of Julius Randle, James Young, the Harrison brothers and Willie Cauley-Stein is a formidable lineup for any foe.

What’s more, the Wildcats are feeling more confident after nearly upsetting No. 1 Florida in the SEC championship game, as Cauley-Stein said, according to the Associated Press, via

It's definitely a big confidence booster. Coming in here, we were a brand new team.

The freshmen have a year of experience under their collective belt, more confidence heading into the tournament and plenty of raw talent. A magical run in the NCAA tournament may just be awaiting John Calipari’s team.

New Mexico

New Mexico checks in with 115-1 odds, which is the exact type of long shot that could shake up a bracket in the NCAA tournament.

The Lobos showed just how talented they are by knocking off San Diego State twice, including in a thriller in the Mountain West championship game.

The trio of Cameron Bairstow, Kendall Williams and Alex Kirk may be the most underrated in the country. The threesome combine to average more than 50 points and nearly 20 rebounds a game on the offensive end. On defense, Williams averages nearly two steals a game, while Bairstow and Kirk swatted 4.2 shots a night combined (Kirk blocked 2.7 a game by himself).

It is a “big three” in every sense of the phrase for the Lobos, and that size, length and athleticism could give Kansas issues in the hypothetical round of 32 matchup without Joel Embiid. 

If the Lobos can escape a date with the Jayhawks, the only thing standing in their way from a trip to the Elite Eight would likely be a reeling Syracuse squad or an offensively challenged Ohio State team. Once we start talking Elite Eight and beyond, anything can happen.


In all honesty, the thought here is that the No. 12 seed Harvard pulls the upset in the round of 64 over the No. 5 seed Cincinnati, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value to be had in the Bearcats at 90-1.

Cincinnati brings the ninth-best pace-adjusted defense in the country to the Big Dance (per Ken Pomeroy’s rankings), and the phrase "defense wins championships" exists for a reason. In the postseason, games often come down to half-court sets, which is exactly where Cincinnati thrives.

While the Bearcats do struggle on the offensive end, Sean Kilpatrick is one of the best players in the country and can put the team on his back if necessary.

What’s more, Cincinnati went into Louisville and walked out with a victory. Considering how much love the Cardinals are receiving in so many projected brackets, that win should not be taken lightly. 

The Bearcats will be in every game they play because of their swarming defense, and Kilpatrick can make the big plays when necessary down the stretch.

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