NCAA Brackets 2014: Picks and Updated Odds Ahead of 1st-Round Day 2 Schedule

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 13:  Aaron White #30 of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates after making a three point shot in the game against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Even though Thursday is considered to be the start of the NCAA tournament in most circles, it actually got started on Tuesday night in Dayton with two first-round games. 

Now, it's time to take a look at the latest odds for all 66 teams still vying for the right to call themselves a champion. This also gives you a chance to examine your brackets one day ahead of having to turn them in. 

In addition to looking at the odds for the tournament, we have predictions for the two games taking place Wednesday. 

All Your Bracket Essentials

Wednesday's first game may not have a lot of appeal, with two teams battling for a No. 16 seed and the right to play Wichita State, but there is a nice bit of symmetry in the game between Cal Poly and Texas Southern. 

The winner of that matchup will take on the Midwest's top seed, Wichita State. One year ago, the Shockers went from being an obscure team no one had ever heard of to playing in the Final Four against eventual national champion Louisville. 

The game is also notable because it gives Cal Poly a chance to win a tournament game with a regular-season record of under .500 (13-19). 

There is also the battle between Iowa and Tennessee for the right to take on No. 6 Massachusetts in the Midwest Region. The winner of that game could enter Friday as a favorite against the Minutemen, as both played in power conferences. 

So don't underestimate the importance of Wednesday's games. At least one of them will play a role in determining the outcome of your bracket. 


No. 16 Cal Poly vs. No. 16 Texas Southern (Midwest Region)

When: Wednesday, March 19 at 6:40 p.m. ET

Where: University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio

Watch: truTV

Stream: March Madness Live

Even though he got a bad rap at Indiana, especially in his later years, Mike Davis continues to win wherever he goes. UAB made it to the NIT three straight years before finally making it to the Big Dance in 2011, where it lost to Clemson in the first round. 

After getting fired from UAB, Davis resurfaced as the interim coach at Texas Southern in August 2012 before taking over on a permanent basis in October 2012. He led the Tigers to a 19-14 regular-season record this year, and the team clinched its first tournament berth since 2003. 

Texas Southern also has a quality big man in Aaric Murray, who has played at La Salle and West Virginia. The 24-year-old averaged 21.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. 

Murray isn't the only quality scorer on the Tigers, as they averaged 76.2 points per game, 52nd in the country. They have also won nine consecutive games entering the tournament, so Davis has his crew peaking at the right time. 

On the flip side, Cal Poly can take solace in making it this far. The Mustangs have been battle-tested, losing games to Arizona, Pittsburgh, Stanford and Oregon in the regular season. But when you rank 327th in scoring and 319th in field-goal percentage, it's hard to see much success at this stage. 

They do have quality inside scoring with Chris Eversley and Dave Nwaba, but as a whole, they shoot just 41 percent from the field and 34 percent from three-point range. 

Cal Poly is the ultimate Cinderella story in a tournament that thrives on Cinderella stories. Unfortunately, the dream will end on Wednesday. 

Prediction: Texas Southern 65, Cal Poly 58


No. 11 Iowa vs. No. 11 Tennessee (Midwest Region)

When: Wednesday, March 19 at 9:10 p.m. ET

Where: University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio

Watch: truTV

Stream: March Madness Live

In the first-round game between two teams from a power conference, Iowa looks to get back on track following six losses in its last seven games. During that stretch, the defense has been dreadful, giving up 80.3 points per game. 

Even more alarming for the Hawkeyes has been the play of the offense, which was the team's strong point all year. The team ranks in the top 11 overall in points, rebounds and assists per game but was held to 125 total points in back-to-back losses against Illinois and Northwestern. 

Roy Devyn Marble leads the team in scoring with 17.3 points per game, but Iowa spreads the ball around, with eight players averaging more than six points per game. 

Unfortunately for Iowa, Marble isn't a strong shooter. He's an excellent volume scorer, but it takes him an average of 13.2 shots per game to get it. That's where a player like 6'9" Aaron White comes into play. 

White's ability to play near the rim and get high-percentage shots will be critical for Iowa. He's scored only 27 points in the last three games, which is a huge reason why the team has fallen on hard times. 

Tennessee has played much better at the end of the year, winning five straight games before losing a seven-point contest to Florida in the SEC tournament. 

Even though the Volunteers have quality scoring options in Jordan McRae (18.6 points per game), Jarnell Stokes (14.7) and Jeronne Maymon (10.1), their strength is on defense. 

Cuonzo Martin's group ranked 31st in defensive efficiency and 53rd in blocks per game. They are going up against a volume-scoring offense, which gives them an edge if they can control the tempo. 

It also helps that Iowa doesn't seem to know how to play with all its talent. Even head coach Fran McCaffery told Rick Brown of Hawk Central that he "wouldn’t dismiss the possibility" of his team buying into its own hype late in the season. 

That either makes Iowa dangerous because it realizes the shortcomings it had at the end of the year or a flop waiting to happen because it doesn't understand what it was doing to be successful early in the season. 

Whenever a team faces that dilemma, bet the other way. 

Prediction: Tennessee 71, Iowa 65


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’sN/A
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’s100-1
16Texas SouthernN/A
16Cal PolyN/A
N/AField (Any Other Team)100/1

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