Elite Eight Bracket 2016: Real-Time Odds to Win 2016 NCAA Title

C.J. MooreCollege Basketball National Lead WriterMarch 21, 2016

Elite Eight Bracket 2016: Real-Time Odds to Win 2016 NCAA Title

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    The 2016 Final Four is set, and North Carolina looks like the overwhelming favorite to win it all in Houston next weekend.

    All four No. 1 seeds made it to the regional finals for just the second time since 2009, but they dropped like flies on Saturday and Sunday night. Oregon, Kansas and Virginia were all upset in the Elite Eight before the Tar Heels held serve against Notre Dame.

    Based on the strength of teams and the difficulty of their projected draw, we’ve set title odds for each of the remaining squads.

Syracuse

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    Title Odds: 10-1

    The Road Ahead: We can't even comprehend how this team is still standing after the early deficits it faced against Gonzaga and Virginia, but the Orange are a win over either North Carolina away from becoming the most improbable participant in a national championship game in NCAA tournament history.

    Reason to Buy: Syracuse didn't shoot well in the Sweet 16 against Gonzaga or for the first 75 percent of the Elite Eight game against Virginia, but it was shooting 36.8 percent from downtown over its previous three games. And if we learned anything from the Battle 4 Atlantis, it's that Syracuse can beat anyone when it's hot from beyond the arc.

    Proper application of the full-court press has also been crucial. For a coach who has allegedly been running the same defense for 40 years, Jim Boeheim was masterful with his defensive strategies in Chicago this weekend.

    Reason to Sell: The 2-3 zone works well against teams that haven't faced it before. However, with nothing but ACC teams remaining on the right side of the bracket, the Orange won't be surprising anyone with their defensive game plan.

    Will Cut Down the Nets if... They keep deriving motivation from being repeatedly told they never belonged in the tournament in the first place.

     

    Slide updated by Kerry Miller.

Villanova

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    Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

    Title Odds: 5-1

    The Road Ahead: Villanova took down the Jayhawks on Saturday night and will get a chance to exorcise some December demons against Oklahoma in the Final Four. The Wildcats will be looking to shoot better than 4-of-32 from three-point range in the rematch.

    Reason to Buy: No team is playing better than Villanova right now. For a group of guys allegedly feeling the pressure of having not been to the Sweet 16 since 2009, the Wildcats have played with all the confidence in the world, beating UNC Asheville, Iowa and Miami by a combined margin of 72 points before taking down the onetime favorite to win it all.

    The craziest part is that the three-point stroke failed them in the Elite Eight against Kansas, yet the Wildcats still managed to pull off the upset. Their perimeter defense has been phenomenal in this tournament.

    Reason to Sell: Though they have been on fire these past few games, this is still the same Villanova team that shot 4-of-32 from three-point range in getting blown out by Oklahoma. If the night comes where the long ball fails the Wildcats, there really isn't a plan B. They also entered the tournament just 1-3 against teams seeded No. 1 or No. 2 this year.

    Will Cut Down the Nets if... Threes keep falling and the defense keeps driving opposing guards bonkers. Iowa and Miami have experienced backcourts, but they were both flustered by the Villanova ball pressure, as the Wildcats are averaging 9.0 steals per tournament game.

     

    Slide updated by Kerry Miller.

Oklahoma

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Title Odds: 3-1

    The Road Ahead: The Sooners will draw Villanova in the Final Four for a rematch of an oft-discussed regular-season gamethe 78-55 beatdown of the Wildcats in Hawaii. Three-point shooting for both teams will be crucial.

    Reason to Buy: Buddy Hield is the best player left in the tournament. The Bahamian superstar is putting up the type of dominant offensive performance in the NCAA tournament that only Kemba Walker and Stephen Curry have managed in the past decade. After a 37-point game against Oregon in the Elite Eight, he's now averaging 29.3 points per game in the tournament.

    But Hield is no one-man show for the Sooners. Jordan Woodard has scored at least 13 points in each tournament game while shooting 57.9 percent from three-point range. Khadeem Lattin and Ryan Spangler aren't putting up quite as impressive numbers, but they've been crucial in the paint. And freshman Christian James was huge off the bench in Anaheim, California, putting up 17 points, 16 rebounds and six assists against Texas A&M and Oregon.

    Reason to Sell: Over the past few years, the spacious NRG Stadium has been a graveyard for three-point shooters, and that's where the Final Four and championship game will be played. But if there's any team in the country that has the three-point prowess to make it rain in any venue, it's the one shooting 42.8 percent and averaging 10.4 made triples per game, right?

    Will Cut Down the Nets if... They keep getting contributions from players other than Hield. When the Sooners were struggling in February, it was typically Hield and one other rotating starter playing well while the rest of the roster struggled to do anything. But when the three-headed backcourt is hitting threes, Lattin is blocking shots and Spangler at least comes close to a double-double, this Oklahoma team is nearly impossible to beat.

     

    Slide updated by Kerry Miller.

North Carolina

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    Title Odds: 1-1

    The Road Ahead: In the Final Four, the Tar Heels will look to improve to 3-0 against Syracuse this season before taking care of business against a No. 2 seed in the title game. They haven't really been challenged yet, though, winning each of their four games by a margin of at least 14 points.

    Reason to Buy: It took four months for him to show up, but if Marcus Paige is here to stay, best of luck to any team trying to slow down this offense. The senior guard was 6-of-9 from three-point range against Indiana and was one of five players for the Tar Heels to score at least 10 points against both the Hoosiers and Fighting Irish.

    Seriously, though, who's the weakest link in UNC's offense? Kennedy Meeksotherwise known as a center whom 350 teams would love to make a primary focus of their offense? When good North Carolina shows up, it is ridiculously good.

    Reason to Sell: Defense, particularly of the three-point variety. Yes, the Heels scored 101 points against Indiana, but they also gave up 86 by allowing the Hoosiers to make 13 three-pointers. Over the previous four games, though, North Carolina held the opposition to 59.3 points per game, so this team has spent most of the tournament erasing all of its perceived weaknesses.

    Will Cut Down the Nets if... They remain committed to the cause. North Carolina opened the season ranked No. 1 in the nation and played like a favorite to reach the Final Four far more often than not. But every now and then, the Tar Heels seemed to lose focus. Their biggest remaining enemy might be themselves.

     

    Slide updated by Kerry Miller.