March Madness 2014: Championship Odds and Early-Round Predictions

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2017

EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 15:  Adreian Payne #5 of the Michigan State Spartans drives the ball to the basket during the second half of the game against the Columbia Lions at Breslin Center on November 15, 2013 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State defeated Columbia 62-53.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The most exciting four-day stretch on the sports calendar will tip off Thursday afternoon as the 2014 NCAA tournament round of 64 begins.


All Your Bracket Essentials:

Credit: Bleacher Report


Upsets and underdogs steal the show every year, but following a parity-filled season, unpredictable doesn't even begin to describe what's to come. 

Fortunately, for the part-time bracketologists across America, Vegas has revealed its championship odds for the field of 68. Below, we'll take a closer look and attempt to predict how the madness will unfold during the early rounds. 

2014 NCAA Tournament Odds
1Wichita St.15-1
3Iowa St.40-1
4Michigan St.11-2
4San Diego St.65-1
5Saint Louis125-1
6North Carolina50-1
6Ohio St.65-1
7New Mexico115-1
9Kansas St.300-1
9George Washington500-1
9Oklahoma St.60-1
10Saint Joseph’s350-1
10Arizona St.500-1
12North Carolina St.900-1
12North Dakota St.1000-1
12Stephen F. AustinN/A
13New Mexico St.N/A
14Western Mich.N/A
14N.C. CentralN/A
15Eastern Ky.N/A
16Coastal CarolinaN/A
16Weber St.N/A
16Mt. St. Mary’sN/A
16Texas SouthernN/A
16Cal PolyN/A
N/AField (Any Other Team)100-1


Top Four Seeds Survive the East

Early-Round Predictions for East Region
Round of 64Prediction
Fri, March 21(1) Virginia Over (16) Coastal Carolina
Fri, March 21(8) Memphis Over (9) George Washington
Thu, March 20(5) Cincinnati Over (12) Harvard
Thu, March 20(4) Michigan State Over (13) Delaware
Fri, March 21(6) North Carolina Over (11) Providence
Fri, March 21(3) Iowa State Over (14) NC Central
Thu, March 20(7) Connecticut Over (10) Saint Joseph's
Thu, March 20(2) Villanova Over (15) Milwaukee
Round of 32Prediction
Sun, March 23(1) Virginia Over (8) Memphis
Sat, March 22(4) Michigan State Over (5) Cincinnati
Sun, March 23(3) Iowa State Over (6) North Carolina
Sat, March 22(2) Villanova Over (7) Connecticut

East Region Sweet 16 Picks: No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Villanova, No. 3 Iowa State and No. 4 Michigan State

Although an upset is almost guaranteed, it's difficult to go against the chalk in the East Region, at least for the second and third rounds. 

No. 12 Harvard over No. 5 Cincinnati is a popular upset pick, and No. 11 Providence has an outside shot to stun No. 6 North Carolina as well. However, when the dust settles after the first weekend, look for No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Villanova, No. 3 Iowa State and No. 4 Michigan State to be left standing in the East.

After winning the Big Ten tournament this past weekend, the Spartans are the favorite to win the region, per Detroit Free Press' Joe Rexrode:

Suddenly, MSU (26-8) looks a lot more like the team that was on the short list of national title contenders before the season than the team that lost seven of its last 12 regular-season games. The Spartans were admittedly surprised they didn’t get a higher seed after beating U-M and Wisconsin over the weekend, but there are no extraordinary obstacles in the way of Tom Izzo’s pursuit of a seventh Final Four.

With the right blend of talent, experience and coaching, it'll be tough to bet against Michigan State over the tournament's second weekend. 


Ohio State Returns to Sweet 16 

Early-Round Predictions for South Region
Round of 64Prediction
Thu, March 20(1) Florida Over (16) Albany/Mount St. Mary's
Thu, March 20(9) Pittsburgh Over (8) Colorado
Fri, March 21(12) Stephen F. Austin Over (5) VCU
Fri, March 21(4) UCLA Over (13) Tulsa
Thu, March 20(6) Ohio State Over (11) Dayton
Thu, March 20(3) Syracuse Over (14) Western Michigan
Fri, March 21(7) New Mexico Over (10) Stanford
Fri, March 21(2) Kansas Over (15) Eastern Kentucky
Round of 32Prediction
Sat, March 22(1) Florida Over (9) Pittsburgh
Sun, March 23(4) UCLA Over (12) Stephen F. Austin
Sat, March 22(6) Ohio State Over (3) Syracuse
Sun, March 23(2) Kansas Over (7) New Mexico

South Region Sweet 16 Picks: No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Kansas, No. 4 UCLA and No. 6 Ohio State

The Ohio State Buckeyes have reached the Sweet 16 in four consecutive years going back to 2010 and will have a great shot to get back in 2014.

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 12:  Aaron Craft #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes shoots a jump shot agains the Iowa Hawkeyes on January 12, 2014 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.   (Photo by Ryan Young/Getty Images)
Ryan Young/Getty Images

If Thad Matta's squad can survive No. 11 Dayton's upset bid in the round of 64, they'll likely face off against a slumping Syracuse team in the round of 32. The Orange have dropped five of their last seven coming into the Big Dance and have struggled to score points of late.

Therefore, watch for the sixth-seeded Buckeyes to upend Jim Boeheim's No. 3 seed and reach the South Regional semifinals along with No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Kansas and No. 4 UCLA.


Doug McDermott, Oklahoma Star Out West

Early-Round Predictions for West Region
Round of 64Prediction
Fri, March 21(1) Arizona Over (16) Weber State
Fri, March 21(9) Oklahoma State Over (8) Gonzaga
Thu, March 20(5) Oklahoma Over (12) North Dakota State
Thu, March 20(13) New Mexico State Over (4) San Diego State
Fri, March 21(6) Baylor Over (11) Nebraska
Fri, March 21(3) Creighton Over (14) Louisiana-Lafayette
Thu, March 20(7) Oregon Over (10) BYU
Thu, March 20(2) Wisconsin Over (15) American
Round of 32Prediction
Sun, March 23(1) Arizona Over (9) Oklahoma State
Sat, March 22(5) Oklahoma Over (13) New Mexico State
Sun, March 23(3) Creighton Over (6) Baylor
Sat, March 22(2) Wisconsin Over (7) Oregon

West Region Sweet 16 Picks: No. 1 Arizona, No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 3 Creighton and No. 5 Oklahoma

A No. 13 seed has knocked off a No. 4 in each of the past six years, and in 2014, watch for hot-shooting New Mexico State (49.1 team field-goal percentage) to continue the streak by shocking San Diego State in the West Region. As a result, No. 5 Oklahoma will have a strong chance to reach the Sweet 16, where it will match up with No. 1 Arizona in the second week.

Mar 8, 2014; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Frank Booker (1) and Oklahoma Sooners guard Je'lon Hornbeak (5) laugh during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

At the bottom of the region, No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 3 Creighton, powered by National Player of the Year favorite Doug McDermott, project to advance through the early stages setting up a tantalizing West Regional semifinal between the Badgers and the Bluejays.


Title Favorites Remain Alive in Midwest

Early-Round Predictions for Midwest Region
Round of 64Prediction
Fri, March 21(1) Wichita State Over (16) Cal Poly/Texas Southern
Fri, March 21(8) Kentucky Over (9) Kansas State
Thu, March 20(12) NC State Over (5) Saint Louis
Thu, March 20(4) Louisville Over (13) Manhattan
Fri, March 21(11) Iowa Over (6) Massachusetts
Fri, March 21(3) Duke Over (14) Mercer
Thu, March 20(7) Texas Over (10) Arizona State
Thu, March 20(2) Michigan Over (15) Wofford
Round of 32Prediction
Sun, March 23(1) Wichita State Over (8) Kentucky
Sat, March 22(4) Louisville Over (12) NC State
Sun, March 23(3) Duke Over (11) Iowa
Sat, March 22(2) Michigan Over (7) Texas

Midwest Region Sweet 16 Picks: No. 1 Wichita State, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Duke and No. 4 Louisville 

Although No. 11 Iowa and No. 12 NC State will have excellent opportunities to pull off upsets in the round of 64, the Midwest Region is sure to send four legitimate title contenders to the Sweet 16.

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 15: Russ Smith #2 and Chris Jones #3 of the Louisville Cardinals walk towards the bench against the Connecticut Huskies during the Championship of the American Athletic Conference Tournament at FedExForum on March 15, 2014 in Memphis,
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Undefeated Wichita State, Big Ten regular-season champion Michigan, Duke and Louisville are the four best teams in the region, and shouldn't have any problem advancing past the first weekend. If there's a potential scare for any of those squads, it's the Shockers' possible third-round showdown with No. 8 Kentucky. The Wildcats were the preseason No. 1 and boast an NBA-ready talent in Julius Randle.

Even if Wichita State gets through the round of 32 unscathed, Louisville will likely be waiting. And Rick Pitino's defending champions certainly have the pieces in place to hand the Shockers their first loss, per Courier-Journal's Jeff Greer:

...If you ask me who is the best college basketball player in America, I would say Russ Smith. If you ask me who is the best power forward, I would say Montrezl Harrell … I’m impressed with our guys and what they have done to win a regular-season and conference tournament (title). The way we have done it, in the fashion we have done it, fits the eye test.

The Cardinals have won five straight coming into the tournament and are growing increasingly popular among experts and analysts this March. 


Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

Follow _Pat_Clarke on Twitter