While the upsets that define the early rounds of the NCAA tournament are always entertaining from a fan’s perspective, they also mean that a favorite is eliminated before its run is supposed to end.
That has ripple effects when it comes to Las Vegas.
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With that in mind, here is a look at the updated tournament odds to take home the national championship as of Tuesday, March 18.
|Odds to Win 2014 NCAA Tournament|
|San Diego State||65-1|
|North Carolina State||900-1|
|North Dakota State||1,000-1|
There are bound to be some early upsets, which means some of those favorites atop the chart won’t be cutting down any nets. Here is a look at some of the top seeds that will falter before the Sweet 16.
No. 1 Arizona
Arizona is one of the most talented teams in the country and has at least one excellent player at each level of the court.
Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski control the lane down low, Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell serve as the primary ball-handlers, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is the versatile and athletic forward who can post up down low or drive around larger opponents.
However, the Wildcats will run into a red-hot Oklahoma State squad that will knock them out in the round of 32.
Marcus Smart is on his way to becoming a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft and will solidify his spot as one of the best guards in the nation in the tournament. Since he returned from suspension, his team has played like the top 10 team it was expected to be, winning five of the last seven games.
The only two losses in that stretch came in overtime against Kansas and Iowa State.
The only way to beat Arizona’s excellent defense is by hitting outside shots, and between Smart, Markel Brown, Phil Forte and Le’Bryan Nash, the Cowboys will convert enough times to stun the Wildcats in the round of 32.
No. 3 Syracuse
While Oklahoma State is riding some momentum heading into the NCAA tournament, Syracuse is in something of a tailspin.
The Orange dropped five of their final seven games, including inexplicable defeats to Georgia Tech and Boston College, and have struggled to score down the stretch.
Don’t overlook Syracuse’s matchup with Western Michigan in the round of 64. The Broncos won the MAC behind the formidable tandem of David Brown and Shayne Whittington.
Whittington is a matchup issue for any team at 6’11” because he can block shots down low (1.6 a game), score on the block or hit from mid-range. He has even hit some three-pointers this season and is nearly automatic from the free-throw line by center standards (76.5 percent).
Brown averaged nearly 20 points a night from the perimeter and has the ability to penetrate against the 2-3 zone or hit from the outside. Sam Cooper of Yahoo! Sports feels that Brown could possibly carry his team far in the South Region:
Brown is certainly ready to seize his opportunity if his comments after the MAC championship game were any indication, according to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
"Finally. I've been here for five long, frustrating years and it's finally here and I can't believe that with this group of guys we were able to overcome so many negative things.”
With Brown controlling the pace of the game from the outside and Whittington battling with the Orange for rebounds and position down low, don’t be surprised when the Broncos knock the struggling Orange out in the round of 64.
No. 2 Villanova
Perhaps no top-two seed looked as vulnerable as Villanova did when it lost to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament.
Despite that disappointing loss, the Wildcats only dropped four games all season and beat Kansas and Iowa. The thinking that they will lose before the Sweet 16 is more about a potential matchup with Connecticut in the round of 32 than any shortcomings from Villanova's side.
The Huskies beat Cincinnati twice, Memphis three times and Florida once this season and have Shabazz Napier running the show at point.
Napier is one of the guards in this tournament field who is capable of taking over a game by himself, and that is exactly what he will do against Villanova in the round of 32. He is averaging 17.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game this year and has made a number of clutch shots with the contest on the line, including one to beat the No. 1-ranked Gators, who were ranked No. 15 at the time.
Look for Napier to carry his team all the way to the Sweet 16.
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