March Madness 2014 Odds: Tournament Favorites That Will Lose Early

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2014

Villanova head coach Jay Wright yells during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Seton Hall in the second round of the Big East Conference tournament at Madison Square Garden, Thursday, March 13, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

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
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
Vegas Insiders

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

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 15:  Nick Johnson #13, Aaron Gordon #11 and Gabe York #1 of the Arizona Wildcats walk on the court during the championship game of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament against the UCLA Bruins at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 15, 20
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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

"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

Chris Szagola/Associated Press

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.

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 15: Amida Brimah #35, Niels Giffey #5, Shabazz Napier #13, Ryan Boatright #11 and Lasan Kromah #20 of the Connecticut Huskies huddle together against the Louisville Cardinals during the Championship of the American Athletic Conference
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

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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