Officially, the 2019 NCAA men's basketball tournament has 68 teams in the field.
But if you ask oddsmakers, this is—at most—maybe an eight-team race to the finish line.
Just eight clubs have even a five percent chance of cutting the nets, per OddsShark, and only the four No. 1 seeds—Duke, Virginia, Gonzaga and North Carolina—have better than a 10 percent chance of winning it all.
Still, this is called March Madness for a reason. Strange things can happen in single-elimination play, like the 2014 tourney showed, when seventh-seeded Connecticut took down eighth-seeded Kentucky in the championship round.
After laying out all the national championship odds, we'll take a closer look at three dark-horse contenders capable of making a bracket-busting run.
2019 NCAA Tournament Bracket
2019 National Championship Odds
North Carolina +800
Michigan State +1200
Texas Tech +2000
Florida State +3300
Virginia Tech +3300
Iowa State +4000
Kansas State +5000
Mississippi State +8000
Ole Miss +15000
Seton Hall +15000
Saint Mary's +15000
Ohio State +20000
Arizona State +25000
Murray State +25000
New Mexico State +25000
Saint Louis +25000
St. John's +25000
UC Irvine +25000
Utah State +25000
Georgia State +50000
Northern Kentucky +50000
Old Dominion +50000
Abilene Christian +100000
Fairleigh Dickinson +100000
NC Central +100000
North Dakota State +100000
Prairie View A&M +100000
No. 3 Texas Tech (+2000)
Forget about the school and the seed for a second. Just look at the ingredient list: KenPom.com's highest rated defense, a top-scorer who will hear his name called early on NBA draft night, two other double-digit scorers who shoot 38-plus percent from distance and a pair of paint protectors averaging a combined 3.4 blocks per game.
Doesn't that sound like a squad capable of making a deep run?
Jarrett Culver is the Red Raiders star, after skyrocketing his per-game marks to 18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists. David Moretti and Matt Mooney are the primary offensive supporters, with the former boasting a pristine 50.5/47.8/93.3 shooting slash and the latter adding 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals. Tariq Owens and Norense Odiase are the interior anchors leaving opponents feeling rejected.
Texas Tech enters the field having won 11 of its last 13 outings, a stretch featuring a 29-point throttling of Kansas and a road win over Big 12 tournament champion Iowa State.
No. 4 Virginia Tech (+3300)
Yes, the Hokies share the East regional with the top-seeded Blue Devils. But if Virginia Tech can find its way past Duke—something it did in February, albeit with no Zion Williamson—this team might be built to last.
As Neil Paine and Josh Planos broke down for FiveThirtyEight, the numbers facing Virginia Tech aren't as daunting as you may think for a No. 4 seed:
"Virginia Tech also has a not-altogether-unfriendly draw, with extremely winnable opening games against Saint Louis (87 percent) and the Mississippi State-Liberty winner (63 percent) before most likely running into Duke's juggernaut. We give the Hokies a respectable 25 percent chance against the Blue Devils — and a 54 percent chance against whoever emerges from the bottom of the region if they do manage to knock off Duke."
Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kerry Blackshear Jr. form a lethal combination, contributing 31.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists between them on a nightly basis. Top distributor Justin Robinson, finally back from a foot injury, and Ahmed Hill both average at least 13 points and shoot better than 37 percent from range.
No. 6 Iowa State (+4000)
Go back and look at the odds again. Oddsmakers give Iowa State the same chance of winning this tournament as No. 3 seeds LSU and Houston.
That doesn't seem to mesh with the Cyclones' sixth seed, which likely came courtesy of a rocky 2-6 stretch to close out the regular season. But advanced analytics have always liked this team—it still sits 16th on KenPom—and that support was justified when this group sprinted to a Big 12 tournament title.
Iowa State beat six ranked opponents, including Kansas and Texas Tech when each was inside the top 10. This ninth-rated offense is loaded with scoring threats, starting with Marial Shayok (18.6 points per game) but also including Lindell Wigginton (13.5), Talen Horton-Tucker (12.1) and Michael Jacobson. Table-setters Nick Weiler-Babb and Tyrese Haliburton average a combined 7.6 assists against only 2.4 turnovers.
The Cyclones don't consistently defend, and their outside shooting can be erratic. But their defense came to life in the conference tournament, and when their offense is clicking, it boats a wealth of firepower few clubs can match.