The 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament is one of the most exciting postseasons in all of sports, and the excitement around March Madness has bettors looking for the latest odds in order to make an educated wager.
With talented programs like the Mercer Bears and the Nebraska Cornhuskers facing tough tests in the second round, both will overcome the odds stacked against them and advance to the next round.
Here is all the vital bracket information college basketball fans need, the latest set of odds and the long shots worth the educated risk.
Here are the latest odds.
Long Shots Worth the Risk
Mercer Bears (26-8, 14-4 A-Sun)
The Mercer Bears come into March Madness as the No. 14 seed and will take on the No. 3-seeded Duke Blue Devils in the second round. While Duke has the advantage on paper, Mercer is one of the hottest teams in the nation right now.
If you struggled picking this matchup, you’re not alone. CBS Sports’ Seth Davis had an internal struggle as well:
The Bears have only lost two games since Feb. 7 and have played efficient basketball in almost every phase of their game. Mercer finished the season 10th in assists per game (16.4) and 25th in points (79.3).
Add in the fact that the team shoots with consistency from the field (.475 field-goal percentage) and was one of the best rebounding teams this season (38 rebounds per game), and the Blue Devils will have a hard time keeping pace with the Bears.
Duke has been put on upset alert.
Predicted Second-Round Result: Mercer defeats Duke, 77-74
Nebraska Cornhuskers (19-12, 11-7 Big Ten)
The No. 11-seeded Nebraska Cornhuskers lost a heartbreaker to Ohio State in the Big Ten quarterfinals, but that doesn’t take away from the momentum the team has built in the second half of the season.
After going on a losing streak of five games in a row earlier this season (four of those teams made the NCAA tournament), Nebraska stiffened up and won 10 of the program’s final 13 games to finish fourth in the Big Ten standings.
Cornhuskers head coach Tim Miles spoke to Eric Olson of the Associated Press (via ABC News) about the success of his program:
I really thought if this team could get to .500 in the league, it would be a special accomplishment. For us to go 11-7 in this league, which is (ranked) one or two in the country, is really an amazing performance by our guys. You recruit the right kind of guys, coach them the right way and good things happen.
Nebraska takes on the No. 6-seeded Baylor Bears in the second round. While Baylor has faced a brutal schedule in the Big 12 Conference, the 20 games played against competition currently in the NCAA tournament will be a detriment if the team isn’t fresh.
With the Cornhuskers possessing an elite defensive unit, the team will wear Baylor down over the course of the game and steal a close victory as a form of vengeance for the tough loss to the Buckeyes in the conference tournament.
Predicted Second-Round Result: Nebraska defeats Baylor, 77-73
*Stats via ESPN.com.