NCAA Bracket 2018: Odds for Every Sweet 16 Team to Win NCAA Championship

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystMarch 19, 2018

NCAA Bracket 2018: Odds for Every Sweet 16 Team to Win NCAA Championship

0 of 16

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
    Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderOtto Kitsinger/Associated Press

    The Sweet 16 of the 2018 men's NCAA tournament is set, as are our odds on who will win the national championship.

    Per usual, this tournament has been nothing close to predictable.

    Normally, we can count on a couple of No. 12 seeds to pull off first-round upsets, but there are more No. 5 seeds in the Sweet 16 (three) than there are No. 1 seeds (two).

    None of the regionals have played to form according to seed, and only the East (1, 2, 3, 5) even came close.

    The left half of the bracket is complete chaos.

    What does all that mean for championship odds?

    Well, it means a No. 5 seed is now the favorite to win the national championship, because there's still a chance Kentucky could get all the way to the national championship without needing to play a team seeded No. 8 or better.

    These odds are based on a combination of how good each team looked through two games and how easy their remaining paths are. Teams are listed in ascending order of likelihood to win the title.

Syracuse Orange (No. 11 Seed, Midwest Regional)

1 of 16

    Oshae Brissett
    Oshae BrissettPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    Road Ahead

    Syracuse has already done the near-impossible to get to this point, knocking off three consecutive major-conference opponents who can put a lot of points on the board. The Orange will need to do that at least three more times to reach the championship game. They face Duke in the Sweet 16. They would probably face Kansas in the Elite Eight. And there's a good chance either Purdue or Villanova would be waiting in the Final Four.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    Jim Boeheim has been playing zone defense for decades, but opponents still can't figure it out. Syracuse has held all three of its tournament opponents to 56 points or fewer. And we're not talking about lackluster offenses, either. Arizona State, TCU and Michigan State all rank top-20 in adjusted offensive efficiency. They all looked helpless against this vaunted 2-3.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    Syracuse's offense is a travesty. It has been held to 60 points or fewer in 13 games, including each of the last four, as well as a pair of 44-point showings in February. Part of that is due to Virginia-like pace of play, but the Orange are just terrible shooters, too. At 47.0 effective field-goal percentage, Syracuse isn't just the worst shooting team to make the tournament. It is 50 spots behind the next-closest team (Wright State).

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    Shots start falling. For all the negative things we could say about this offense, Syracuse does have some legitimate scoring options. Tyus Battle, Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett have each made at least 55 three-pointers this season, and both Paschal Chukwu and Marek Dolezaj score efficiently in the paint, although that duo doesn't attempt many shots. It's not likely, but Syracuse could cruise to the title if it shoots 40 percent from three the rest of the way.

             

    National Championship Odds: 66-1

Kansas State Wildcats (No. 9 Seed, South Regional)

2 of 16

    Xavier Sneed
    Xavier SneedBob Leverone/Associated Press

    Road Ahead

    Kansas State's path to the Final Four will feature one of the most prominent blue bloods in the sport (Kentucky) and the biggest Cinderella story of the tournament (Nevada or Loyola-Chicago). If the Wildcats can get out of the South region, they still won't need to face a No. 1 or No. 2 seed until the national championship, as No. 3 seed Michigan is the top remaining team in the left half of the bracket.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    Kansas State is a problem on defense. It's not quite Press Virginia, but the Wildcats can turn you over like there's no tomorrow. They have recorded at least 10 steals in eight games this season, including 13 in the second-round game against UMBC. Through two tournament games, they are allowing just 51.0 points on average.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    Who has this team beaten? Kansas State scored a pair of close wins over TCU and knocked off Creighton in the first round. But in games against teams that earned a No. 5 seed or better, the Wildcats went 0-7 and were barely even competitive, save for a one-point game against in-state rival Kansas. But in the other two games against the Jayhawks, they lost by at least 14 points. Ditto for both games against Texas Tech. And their average margin of defeat against West Virginia was 23 points. Things could get ugly against title contenders.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    Dean Wade comes back fully healthy and puts the team on his shoulders. Wade is Kansas State's best weapon on both ends of the floor, but he has missed the last three games with a foot injury. The Wildcats are lucky UMBC made history in the first round, because they probably would have gotten destroyed by Virginia without Wade. It'll take more than just him to win it all, but let's just say Kansas State won't be winning the title if Wade doesn't return in short order.

             

    National Championship Odds: 60-1

Florida State Seminoles (No. 9 Seed, West Regional)

3 of 16

    Terance Mann
    Terance MannAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    Road Ahead

    For a team in the chaotic half of the bracket, Florida State still has a tough draw. It will face Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 before likely getting Michigan in the Elite Eight and Kentucky in the Final Four. All three of those teams entered the tournament playing their best basketball of the season, so knocking them all off could be quite the challenge.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    As always seems to be the case, Leonard Hamilton has a bunch of big, athletic dudes. The Seminoles have three excellent shot-blockers in Ike Obiagu, Christ Koumadje and Mfiondu Kabengele, and several of their wings are listed at 6'6". When this team is fully invested on defense, it can command the paint on both ends of the floor. There are enough capable shooters on this team that it can really bury an opponent with some three-pointers, too.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    Statistically, Florida State is awful at the free-throw line. Anecdotally, this team just suffered too many head-scratching losses this season to be trusted. A 20-point shellacking at the hands of North Carolina State? A 15-point loss to Notre Dame sans Bonzie Colson? A 76-63 loss to Clemson when the Tigers were playing their worst basketball of the season? And those are just the red flags in February. Good to see this team show up in a big way in the first two rounds, but you have to wonder when Mr. Hyde will show up.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    Terance Mann ever gets back to playing like a star. For the first two months or so, Mann was putting up MVP performances on a regular basis. Quality wins over Florida and North Carolina never would have happened without him shouldering the load. But he has been a ghost lately, scoring 10 or fewer points in seven consecutive games. If he shows up with a couple of 20-point performances, it could be a real game-changer.

             

    National Championship Odds: 50-1

Clemson Tigers (No. 5 Seed, Midwest Regional)

4 of 16

    Elijah Thomas
    Elijah ThomasDenis Poroy/Associated Press

    Road Ahead

    Aside from Syracuse, which would theoretically need to go through the same four opponents, Clemson has arguably the most difficult path remaining of any team. The Tigers will get Kansas in the Sweet 16 before an ACC rematch with Duke in the Elite Eight. Win that one and it's on to Villanova in the Final Four and potentially a red-hot Michigan or Kentucky in the championship.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    Clemson's defense is special. The Tigers had a couple of hiccups shortly after losing Donte Grantham for the season in January, but they have held eight of their last nine opponents to 68 points or fewer. This includes simply abusing Auburn in the second round and even limiting Duke's explosive offense to just 66. Led by Elijah Thomas, Clemson blocks a lot of shots and just generally makes life miserable for opposing teams that try to attack the paint.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    Despite what it showed in the first two rounds against New Mexico State and Auburn, Clemson's offense was curiously absent late in the lead-up to the Big Dance. The Tigers scored 58 points or fewer in four of their final seven games, losing each one in which they failed to top that total. Gabe DeVoe and Marcquise Reed have both been great thus far, and Shelton Mitchell has been no slouch, either. But if any member of that trio has an off night, Clemson struggles to put points on the board.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    It continues to play every game like it did against Auburn. Clemson wasn't that impressive from the field against the SEC Tigers, but it did share the ball well, dominated the glass, avoided turnovers and just generally played with a swagger we almost never see from this team. Save for a 61-36 loss to Virginia in their first game without Grantham, the Tigers weren't blown out of any game this season. As long as they battle and don't shoot themselves in the foot, they'll put up a fight in each remaining contest.

             

    National Championship Odds: 40-1

Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (No. 11 Seed, South Regional)

5 of 16

    Clayton Custer
    Clayton CusterTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Road Ahead

    Loyola-Chicago eked out a pair of wins in low-scoring slugfests, but the third round will likely be a different story. Nevada is a higher-scoring team that doesn't play much defense. If the Ramblers run into Kentucky in the Elite Eight, though, it'll be right back to their preferred defensive grind type of affair.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    As my colleague David Kenyon wrote, Loyola-Chicago is doing what Virginia was supposed to do. Between the Missouri Valley tournament and the NCAA tournament, the Ramblers have won five consecutive games without scoring more than 65 points in any of them. They grind out wins with tough defense, methodical offense and a little bit of help from Sister Jean and last-second buckets.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    The pack-line defense helps hide it, but this is an undersized team with the exception of freshman big man Cameron Krutwig. Miami and Tennessee were unable to take advantage, but the Ramblers are eventually going to run into a team that can crush them with three-pointers and/or bully them around in the paint, provided that team isn't bothered by the snail-like pace of play. Another thing Miami and Tennessee weren't able to capitalize on: Loyola-Chicago gives up more than its fair share of live-ball turnovers.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    They keep hitting game-winning buckets in the final five seconds. But seriously, Loyola will need to start doing more on the offensive end. Even against this defense, a team like Kentucky or Villanova is going to put points on the board. There are five Ramblers who averaged better than 10 points per game this season, so they have the players to get some more buckets.

             

    National Championship Odds: 35-1

Texas A&M Aggies (No. 7 Seed, West Regional)

6 of 16

    Robert Williams
    Robert WilliamsGerry Broome/Associated Press

    Road Ahead

    Texas A&M already had two tough opponents in Providence and North Carolina, but it will need to defeat two more just to get out of the West Regional. Michigan is on deck, possibly followed by a showdown with Gonzaga. Two more wins could set up a rubber match with Kentucky in the Final Four.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    When Texas A&M is good, it is damn good, especially on the defensive end. Through the first 11 games of the season, the Aggies held 10 of their opponents to 67 points or fewer, blowing out most of them by a laughable margin. And it did so against some good teams, crushing West Virginia, Oklahoma State and USC, and almost winning at Arizona. North Carolina found out the hard way just how good this team still can be.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    When Texas A&M is bad, it is awful, especially on the defensive end. In mid-February, the Aggies gave up 94 points to Arkansas followed by 93 points against Mississippi State and 81 points against Vanderbilt. And during that early stretch of great defense, it still managed to allow 87 points in a win over Penn State. The Aggies always had national championship talent, but their effort and consistency has been another story.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    They continue dominating the glass and defending the three-point arc. Texas A&M was plus-32 in the rebound department in the first two games and held the opposition to a combined three-point performance of 12-of-51 (23.5 percent). When the Aggies aggressively use their length, it can be a major problem for opposing teams.

             

    National Championship Odds: 30-1

Nevada Wolf Pack (No. 7 Seed, South Regional)

7 of 16

    Kendall Stephens
    Kendall StephensAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    Road Ahead

    Nevada is just one piece of the chaos in the South Regional. This No. 7 seed will face a No. 11 in the Sweet 16 in the form of Loyola-Chicago. And instead of a No. 1 or a No. 4 seed, it would likely draw a No. 5 seed if Kentucky takes care of business in its half of the region. And even if the Wolf Pack reach the Final Four, North Carolina and Xavier are already out of the West Regional. Stranger things have happened.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    Nevada avoids turnovers as well as any team in the country. Even before coughing the ball up just twice against Cincinnatian incredible feat in itself, given the Bearcats defensethey were No. 1 in the nation in turnover percentage. This is also an excellent three-point shooting team.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    This team has developed quite the bad habit of falling behind by a huge deficit. Nevada was down by 12 early in the second half against UNLV in the MWC tournament and fell behind by 34 in the first half against San Diego State in the following game. They were down 14 in the second half against Texas and 22 against Cincinnati. Somehow, they are 3-1 in those games, but that can't continue, right? Also, depth is a major concern here. The Wolf Pack only played six guys in each of its NCAA tournament games, and one of those guys (Hallice Cooke) did next to nothing in either one.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    All five guys continue showing up in a big way. Caleb and Cody Martin, Kendall Stephens, Josh Hall and Jordan Caroline each scored in double figures in both games and is averaging at least 14 points per game in the tournament. Stephens was the star against Texas. Cody Martin led the way against Cincinnati. But as long as the full quintet makes big contributions, the Wolf Pack can beat anyone.

             

    National Championship Odds: 25-1

West Virginia Mountaineers (No. 5 Seed, East Regional)

8 of 16

    Jevon Carter
    Jevon CarterDonald Miralle/Getty Images

    Road Ahead

    West Virginia had a rather easy path to this point, causing major problems on defense against Murray State and Marshall. But it will be tough sledding the rest of the way. Up first is Villanova, which is the best team left in the tournament. After that, it's either Purdue or Texas Tech, neither of which would be an easy out. After that, maybe a fourth game against Kansas, which has been the kryptonite for the Mountaineers all season.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    The Big 12 has adapted to West Virginia's relentless pressure and held its own against the Mountaineers this year, but teams from other conferences might not know how to cope with Jevon Carter and Co. Even if you break the pressure, you still have to deal with one of the nation's best shot-blockers in Sagaba Konate. Every single possession against this team is a war.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    Because of their aggressive style, the Mountaineers commit a lot of fouls, give up a lot of three-pointers and are often out of position for defensive rebounds. A team with an elite point guard (see: Devonte' Graham; Jalen Brunson) should be able to withstand West Virginia's pressure to take advantage of a defense that hasn't been that efficient.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    Carter carries the Mountaineers on both ends of the floor. It's remarkable how far below the national radar this man has flown, but Carter is averaging 17.4 points, 6.6 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game, all while shooting 39.8 percent from three-point range. The 'Eers don't have a ton of reliable offense, but he could absolutely be the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

             

    National Championship Odds: 22-1

Purdue Boilermakers (No. 2 Seed, East Regional)

9 of 16

    Carsen Edwards
    Carsen EdwardsPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    Road Ahead

    It's an unstoppable force (Purdue's offense) against an immovable object (Texas Tech's defense) in the Sweet 16. Should be an entertaining, slow-paced affair that could lead to an Elite Eight battle between two of the most efficient offenses in the nation in Purdue and Villanova. If Purdue comes out of the East before drawing Duke in the Final Four and Gonzaga in the national championship, that sure would be a lot of offense.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    Purdue is an outstanding three-point shooting team. Four out of the five starters shoot 40 percent or better from downtown, and Ryan Cline also shoots 40 percent off the bench. As demonstrated with a clutch bucket late against Butler, Dakota Mathias is the most cold-blooded shooter of the bunch. Both he and Carsen Edwards have made more than 90 triples. Vincent Edwards, P.J. Thompson and Cline have each made 40 or more. Good luck stopping all of them.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    Isaac Haas fractured his elbow in Friday's game against Cal State Fullerton and may not be available the rest of the tournament. But even when the Boilermakers were at full strength, they weren't looking that great late in the season. They lost four of their final nine games and had precisely one win (over lowly Minnesota) by a margin of nine or more points in their last 13 games. If December Purdue doesn't show up soon, we won't get to see April Purdue.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    Carsen Edwards starts shooting well again. Purdue's lead guard was the star piece late in the year, scoring at least 26 points five times in the eight games leading up to the Big Ten championship. But he has struggled since then, scoring 40 points on 45 shots in his last three games. Now that the Boilermakers are short-handed, they'll need him more than ever.

             

    National Championship Odds: 20-1

Texas Tech Red Raiders (No. 3 Seed, East Regional)

10 of 16

    Keenan Evans
    Keenan EvansBrandon Wade/Associated Press

    Road Ahead

    A lot of paths have broken wide-open for teams to go on runs that maybe didn't seem possible on Selection Sunday. No such luck for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders had a tough second-round game with No. 6 seed Florida. They'll need to face No. 2 seed Purdue in the next round, followed by a presumed game against No. 1 seed Villanova. Survive all that and it will almost certainly be Kansas or Duke waiting in the Final Four. Best of luck with that!

                   

    Reason to Buy

    Keenan Evans is the truth. Texas Tech struggled in mid-January when he went through a brief cold spell. The Red Raiders struggled again in the second half of February while he battled a toe injury. But when he has been himself, this team is almost unbeatable. I spent much of the past two months comparing him to Kemba Walker. If you didn't believe me then, maybe his clutch 23 points against Stephen F. Austin and "clutcher" 22 against Florida drove the point home.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    Texas Tech is outstanding on defense, but it's just kind of OK on offense. It's why this team is so beatable if Evans isn't having a good game. Respect to Jarrett Culver and Zhaire Smith for being drastically better as freshmen than any of the recruiting rankings suggested, but that's the extent of Red Raiders who can be trusted to score—and even they have vanished from time to time.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    They defend valiantly and keep getting star performances from Evans. That's it, really. When Evans scores at least 15 points, Texas Tech is 18-1 since the beginning of December. In the one exception, Trae Young had 27 points and 10 assists against the Red Raiders, and Evans (19) was the only one to score in double figures. This is why he could be the second coming of Kemba Walker.

             

    National Championship Odds: 17-1

Gonzaga Bulldogs (No. 4 Seed, West Regional)

11 of 16

    Zach Norvell Jr.
    Zach Norvell Jr.Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Road Ahead

    So much for those rematches from last year's run to the championship game. Instead of facing Xavier in the Sweet 16 and North Carolina in the Elite Eight, it'll be Florida State up next for Gonzaga, followed by either Michigan or Texas A&M. It's not quite the easiest path to the Final Four, but it sure is close. Once there, the Zags will likely need to contend with Kentucky.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    Gonzaga is dominant in the paint. Per KenPom, the Bulldogs rank in the top 10 in the nation in both two-point field-goal offense and defense, top 20 in defensive rebounding and top 60 in offensive rebounding. They didn't much flex those muscles in the first round against UNC-Greensboro, but it was a huge reason they were able to hang on against Ohio State. Seven of the nine regulars shoot better than 60 percent on two-point attempts for the season.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    Statistically, there's nothing too alarming about this team. But Gonzaga has had more than its usual supply of close calls against inferior competition this season—North Dakota, San Francisco (twice), San Diego (twice), Pacificand it didn't exactly steamroll its way into the Sweet 16. Moreover, the Bulldogs got blown out by Villanova in their only game this season against a team that earned a No. 4 seed or better.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    Killian Tillie gets back to playing like he did in the weeks leading up to the tournament. Through two games, Tillie is 0-of-4 from three-point range and has scored a combined total of nine points. In the previous seven games, he shot 22-of-26 (84.6 percent) from downtown and averaged 18.0 points. If you want to know why they struggled with UNC-Greensboro and Ohio State, there's your reason. If Tillie shows up, they can win it all.

             

    National Championship Odds: 12-1

Michigan Wolverines (No. 3 Seed, West Regional)

12 of 16

    Jordan Poole (2) and Moritz Wagner (13)
    Jordan Poole (2) and Moritz Wagner (13)Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Road Ahead

    It should have been a rematch of the 1993 national championship between Michigan and North Carolina in the Sweet 16, but the Tar Heels failed to hold up their end of the bargain. Instead, the Wolverines will draw Texas A&M, which could either be good news or terrible news, depending on which A&M shows up. After that, it's on to Gonzaga in the Elite Eight for a spot in the Final Four against possibly Kentucky.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    The offense hasn't shown up yet in the tournament, but that's OK because Michigan is playing its best defense of the KenPom era. After a rough start against Montana, the Wolverines completely shut down the Grizzlies in the first round. And they limited Rob Gray Jr. to 23 points on 22 shots on a night where only two Cougars finished with more than four points.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    Michigan's free-throw shooting is downright awful, and its offensive rebounding isn't much better. This team does a great job of avoiding turnovers and has a lot of players who can shoot, but there isn't much of a Plan B (on offense) if and when the first shot isn't falling at a high rate. And save for Charles Matthews shooting relatively well in the first game, those shots haven't been going in thus far.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    The three-pointers show up. With a stretch 5 (Moritz Wagner) who shoots slightly better than 40 percent from three-point rangeand with John Beilein still running the showit should come as no surprise that Michigan does a lot of its shooting from beyond the perimeter. But at 13-of-46 (28.3 percent) through two games, that shot has been failing the Wolverines. If Wagner and Co. can start converting at closer to a 40 percent clip, that should be more than enough offense to let the defense do the rest of the heavy lifting.

             

    National Championship Odds: 12-1

Kansas Jayhawks (No. 1 Seed, Midwest Regional)

13 of 16

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Road Ahead

    Clemson limped into the tournament, but everyone looks better after a pair of wins to reach the Sweet 16. Kansas better be prepared for a physical affair and not get caught looking ahead to the likely showdown with Duke. If the Jayhawks survive the Midwest, it could set up one heck of a game against Villanova.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    The Jayhawks are some kind of special on offense. Their efficiency isn't the best in the country because they don't draw many fouls and they're just average on the glass. However, they shoot it so well that it's a surprise they have only scored at least 90 points in eight games. All five starters average better than 12 points, and when they get cooking, they can burn you.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    Kansas isn't quite as dependent on the three-pointer as Villanova is, but when that shot isn't falling, things get ugly. The Jayhawks are 1-4 when shooting 31.5 percent or worse, and they were held to 65 points or fewer in three of those games. Moreover, even if Udoka Azubuike (knee) is back to full strength in time for the Sweet 16, this is not a great rebounding team that has limited depth, especially in the frontcourt.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    The defense can avoid a colossal letdown. Unfortunately, there have been quite a few of those, including the regular-season finale against Oklahoma State. It was one of eight times Kansas allowed at least 80 points, six of which resulted in losses. The Jayhawks are typically solid on D, but they sure are dreadful on occasion.

             

    National Championship Odds: 10-1

Duke Blue Devils (No. 2 Seed, Midwest Regional)

14 of 16

    Marvin Bagley III (35), Wendell Carter Jr. (34) and Grayson Allen (3)
    Marvin Bagley III (35), Wendell Carter Jr. (34) and Grayson Allen (3)Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Road Ahead

    Syracuse is on another one of those missions where it makes a run at the Final Four of a tournament it didn't deserve an invitation to in the first place, but there's no question Duke's path got a little bit easier when the Orange upset Michigan State on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Devils completely shut down Syracuse in a 60-44 win less than a month ago. Win that one and they'll likely draw Kansas in the Elite Eight for the right to face Villanova in the Final Four.

                   

    Reason to Buy

    Duke has more than solved its defensive woes from earlier in the season. The team that gave up at least 81 points in four of its first five losses and a total of nine times in the first 24 games? It died along with the man-to-man defense in mid-February. Since the switch to zone, Duke is allowing just 61.7 points per game and has yet to give up more than 74. And with this offense, that should be plenty.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    Turnovers have been a problem for Duke. In losses to North Carolina and Virginia Tech in the past month, the Blue Devils coughed up the ball 18 times in each game. And even in the wins over Iona and Rhode Island, they had a negative turnover margin in both games. There was too much Marvin Bagley III and Gary Trent Jr. in those games for it to make a difference. Against title contenders, though, giving away possessions is a great way to give away the game.

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    The defensive three-point percentage continues to hold up. Most zones give up a lot of three-pointers, but not this one. Opponents are shooting just 26.3 percent since the move to zone defense, and only two of those 11 opponents shot 30 percent or better. If that continues, there's not much hope for a team to score enough to beat Duke.

             

    National Championship Odds: 8-1

Villanova Wildcats (No. 1 Seed, East Regional)

15 of 16

    Jalen Brunson and Jay Wright
    Jalen Brunson and Jay WrightKeith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Road Ahead

    Villanova hasn't had much experience against the type of aggressive defense it will face in the Sweet 16. The few games it has played against ball-hawking defenses did not go well. Considering the Wildcats committed a combined 48 turnovers in wins over St. John's, Nicholls State and Western Kentucky and lost the other game against the Red Storm, Press Virginia could be a major problem. And that's only the first Big 12 hurdle. The Wildcats would potentially still need to get through Texas Tech and Kansas just to reach the championship. 

                   

    Reason to Buy

    Virginia was the most consistent team (until running into UMBC) and Duke was the most exciting team because of all the NBA talent, but no team at its peak was better than Villanova as its peak this season. When this offense is humming, there's nothing you can do. Both Radford and Alabama found that out the hard way, when the Wildcats just tore them to shreds in what felt like an instant. And even when they aren't playing their best on offense, this team is more than good enough on defense to grind out lower-scoring affairs.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    When Villanova is making its three-pointers, it's game over. This team is a perfect 25-of-25 in the win column when shooting at least 35 percent from three-point range. But when the Wildcats shoot worse than 31 percentwhich has happened six timesthere's a 67 percent chance they either lose or get taken to overtime. Can they survive and advance if and when that off night comes?

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges keep balling out. Dating back to the beginning of March, Villanova's dynamic duo is averaging 40.2 points and 5.7 assists and shooting 44.7 percent from three-point range. The Wildcats do have other options who can carry the team. (See: Donte DiVincenzo's first half against Alabama.) But if their two National Player of the Year candidates show up for two more weeks, the Wildcats should win a title.

            

    National Championship Odds: 6-1

Kentucky Wildcats (No. 5 Seed, South Regional)

16 of 16

    Hamidou Diallo
    Hamidou DialloKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Road Ahead

    The No. 1 seed (Virginia), No. 4 seed (Arizona) and No. 6 seed (Miami) in the South didn't even survive the first round. The No. 3 seed (Tennessee) and No. 2 seed (Cincinnati) joined them on the list of eliminated teams in the second round, creating quite the path for Kentucky to at least reach the Final Four. The Wildcats will need to take care of Kansas State before a likely brawl with Nevada. Win those two affairs and they'll possibly draw Gonzaga in the Final Four for one heck of a David vs. Goliath battle. 

                   

    Reason to Buy

    This isn't the best Kentucky team we've seen under John Calipari, but this is the best that this particular Kentucky roster has played all year. At various points throughout the season, the Wildcats looked downright disinterested. But Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, P.J. Washington and Co. are bringing it on both ends of the floor like never before, winning nine of their last 10 games. If these athletic juggernauts remain engaged, they will be beyond difficult to eliminate.

                  

    Reason to Sell

    Kentucky does not shoot well and is below the national average on defense in both turnover percentage and rebound percentage. If shots aren't falling and the Wildcats aren't consistently ending possessions on the defensive end, that could be a lethal combination. Moreover, aside from jumping out to a huge first-half lead against Tennessee in the SEC championship, Kentucky hasn't looked that good against teams that ended up earning a No. 4 seed or better (Kansas, Auburn and two of three games against Tennessee).

                  

    Will Cut Down Nets If...

    At least four guys show up to play in every remaining game. All eight guysnine if they end up getting Jarred Vanderbilt back at some pointwho step on the floor are capable of taking over. With the exception of Vanderbilt and Sacha Killeya-Jones, they have all had at least one game this season with at least 20 points scored. But in their losses this season, it was typically just one or two guys trying to shoulder the load, which doesn't work. Get four or more Wildcats playing well, though, and they should win.

             

    National Championship Odds: 9-2

                       

    Statistics courtesy of KenPom.com and Sports Reference.

    Kerry Miller covers men's college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.