March Madness is underway, and brackets are being filled out in a frenzy. As we know, anything can happen during the NCAA tournament; however, knowing the odds and paths each team must take to get to the championship are crucial keys for a bracket's success.
As each team gears up for tournament action, let's take a look at the latest odds for each team to come away with the coveted title of national champion. We'll also take a look at all four regions and predict which team will represent each in the Final Four.
Updated Tournament Odds
|San Diego State||65/1|
|North Dakota State||1000/1|
|Field (Any Other Team)||100/1|
Odds current as of Tuesday, March 18 at 4 p.m. EDT.
Final Four Predictions
South Region: Florida Gators
There's simply no hotter team entering the 2014 NCAA tournament than the Florida Gators. Not only did the Gators run the table in the SEC in the regular season and go on to win the conference tournament, but they are riding an improbable 26-game winning streak too.
Florida may have one of the easiest paths to the Final Four as well.
Final Four picks: Clark Kellog, Seth Davis: Florida, Wisconsin, Wichita St, Mich St. Doug Gottlieb: Florida, Arizona, L'ville, Mich St.— Jeff Rabjohns (@JeffRabjohns) March 16, 2014
Both No. 2 Kansas and No. 3 Syracuse are coming off some disappointing losses and haven't been playing solid basketball of late. No. 4 UCLA has looked good lately, defeating Arizona in the Pac-12 finals; however, the team's 12th-ranked offense could find it difficult to put up points on Florida's stout defense.
West Region: Baylor Bears
The West may be the most difficult region to predict this year. The competition is stiff and the region's top teams have all struggled of late.
What makes the Bears the pick here is the fact that they have really jelled as a team lately and look very well-rounded entering the tournament. Before Baylor's loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament, the team was riding an impressive six-game winning streak.
Baylor to the Final Four? Would be sweet. http://t.co/LdBdzb6AhJ— Thee Bears (@theebears) March 17, 2014
The Bears have been able to hang with difficult teams and flourish in the face of adversity, winning many close contests. After the tournament win against Texas, head coach Scott Drew praised his team's chemistry during a press conference with the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
"We stayed united. We knew what we had to get better at, and credit them for getting better each and every day."
Baylor looks to be the deepest and most complete team in the West. With No. 1 Arizona, No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 3 Creighton struggling lately, the Bears have a great chance to represent the West in the Final Four.
East Region: Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia has been very impressive this season. The Cavaliers have won 16 of their last 17 games, with their only loss coming in overtime against Maryland. After handling Duke in the ACC finals by a score of 72-63, head coach Tony Bennett explained his team's recipe for success during a press conference with the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
"We kept talking about it—don't get sped up, make them guard you, and make them earn on the other end. We had to earn this against that kind of team and that kind of program."
The team stuck to its guns and emerged victorious in decisive fashion.
With No. 2 Villanova struggling lately, the Cavaliers' toughest competition should come from No. 3 Iowa State and No. 4 Michigan State. Each of these teams rely heavily on offense, however, and will find it tough to penetrate Virginia's top-ranked defensive unit.
Midwest Region: Michigan Wolverines
Late in the regular season and early in the Big Ten tournament, Michigan looked like one of the nation's deepest and most complete teams. With a solid defense which feeds its offense in transition, Michigan went on a seven-game winning streak.
During that stretch, the Wolverines defeated the same Michigan State team that beat them in the conference tournament. They also pulled out a close win against Ohio State in the Big Ten semifinals.
yes but that's a hard road RT @TWesolowski11: can Michigan get back to the Final Four?— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 18, 2014
The Midwest is full of questions. No. 1 Wichita State is the nation's only unbeaten team, but it has yet to be truly tested. No. 3 Duke has been on a nice tear as well lately, but they struggled against Virginia's defense and only shot 38.1 percent from the field.
No. 4 Louisville is a hot team entering the tournament. They won the AAC tournament in a decisive manner. Yet the Cardinals have struggled against ranked teams this season, losing to North Carolina, Kentucky, Memphis (twice) and Cincinnati.
This region will certainly be a tight one, but the Wolverines have all the tolls necessary to gain passage into the Final Four.