March Madness 2019: Complete Odds and Final Four Picks for NCAA Tournament

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2019

LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 23: PJ Washington #25 of the Kentucky Wildcats is seen during the game against the Auburn Tigers at Rupp Arena on February 23, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Duke enters the 2019 NCAA tournament as the top seed and the team to beat according to the Vegas oddsmakers. 

The other No. 1 seeds round out the rest of the championship odds in Vegas, but it's Zion Williamson and Duke that hold the shortest odds at plus-225. Every team has questions that make this an interesting tournament this year.

Duke hasn't been able to stay healthy all year. Gonzaga has only played seven games against Quadrant 1 opponents. Virginia is, well, Virginia, and North Carolina has losses to tournament contenders in Michigan, Kentucky, Virginia and Duke. 

No one is a lock in this field, which means there could be some good value out there. Here's a look at the latest championship odds and picks for the Final Four. 


Championship Odds

Odds via OddsChecker

Duke (+225; Bet $100 to win $225) 

Gonzaga (+600) 

Virginia (+700) 

North Carolina (+800)

Kentucky (+1500) 

Tennessee (+1700) 

Michigan State (+1700) 

Michigan (+2200) 


East: Duke Blue Devils

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

It's a boring pick, but the Blue Devils are simply the closest thing to a lock in this field. 

Duke has just about everything. It has a legitimate star in Williamson, but also a unit that is committed on the defensive end of the floor to go with an electrifying offense. It ranks sixth overall in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom.com.

The Blue Devils' region is relatively helpful. Looking at the odds for their side of the bracket the Michigan State Spartans are the only team that is even considered a threat. 

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Can anyone in the East get past Duke? https://t.co/36TB3Ao4BD

A reason to pause when picking Duke is its three-point shooting. With the pace-and-space style of basketball even permeating March Madness, the Blue Devils 30.2 three-point percentage could be a problem if an opponent gets a hot hand. 

The other factors are just too big to ignore, though. Williamson doesn't even lead the team in scoring. RJ Barrett edges him out at 22.9 points per game and Cam Reddish gives them a third scoring option that can take over at any time. 

The Blue Devils have rarely been at full strength this season, but if they stay healthy we might see a run of dominance. 


West: Texas Tech Red Raiders

AMES, IA - MARCH 9: Jarrett Culver #23 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders takes in the second half of play at Hilton Coliseum on March 9, 2019 in Ames, Iowa. The Texas Tech Red Raiders won 80-73 over the Iowa State Cyclones. (Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Image
David K Purdy/Getty Images

There's a lot to like about Texas Tech in the West region. 

First, the Red Raiders are dominant on defense. They have the number one KenPom defense, force 15.7 turnovers per game and hold opponents to just 36.8 percent shooting from the field. Defense travels and that kind of swarming effort is going to carry over well into the tournament.

Second, they have experience coming back from a successful tournament run last season. Jarrett Culver, Davide Moretti and Norense Odiase all logged important minutes for the Red Raider team that made an Elite Eight run last season. They will be looked upon to provide leadership.

Culver will be most important to the run, though. The sophomore guard does a little bit of everything for Tech. He leads the team in points (18.5), rebounds (6.3) and assists (3.7) per game. 

The Red Raiders are going to be a tough out. Gonzaga and Michigan will be popular picks in this bracket, but Tech has the defense, star power and experience to come out on top in this region. With +3300 odds according to OddsChecker, the Red Raiders have good value as a national champion pick as well.


South: Virginia Cavaliers

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - MARCH 09: De'Andre Hunter #12 of the Virginia Cavaliers grabs a loose ball away from Jordan Nwora #33 of the Louisville Cardinals in the second half during a game at John Paul Jones Arena on March 9, 2019 in Charlottesville, Virginia
Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Yes, last season's showing was a debacle of historic proportions for Tony Bennett's Virginia squad. Yes, his teams have criminally underachieved in the tournament. 

However, writing off Virginia will be a mistake this year. 

As usual, the 'Hoos play incredible defense. They're ranked fifth in KenPom and have a dynamic scoring duo in De'Andre Hunter and Kyle Guy for when the offense stalls out. 

But perhaps more important is a relatively easier path to the Final Four than some of the other top seeds. FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver broke down the odds in the region and they are heavily in the Cavaliers favor. 

No. 2 seed Tennessee backed in to the tournament with a 6-4 record in its last 10 games. No. 3 Purdue only has two players averaging double-digits. No. 4 seed Kansas State has an underrated opponent in UC Irvine. 

A lot of people in your pool are going to take someone other than Virginia in this region. It's the rare case where going chalk allows you to zig where others zag. 


Midwest: Kentucky

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - MARCH 09:  Tyler Herro #14 of the Kentucky Wildcats attempts a shot while being guarded by Andrew Nembhard #2 and Kevarrius Hayes #13 of the Florida Gators in the first half at Rupp Arena on March 09, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Ph
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

If there's going to be a dark horse Final Four team, it feels like this is the region they will come from. However, if we're looking at talent, depth and performance, the pick is Kentucky. 

John Calipari's squad is balanced and deep. Four players average double-digits and nine players average at least 10 minutes per game. They are aggressive and get to the line (ninth in the country in free throws made per game). 

The Wildcats also create extra possessions for themselves with the 12th-highest offensive rebounding percentage in the nation. That's going to make them harder to upset as teams will struggle to keep them from getting second-chance opportunities. 

North Carolina has an impressive win over Duke but also lost to Kentucky, Michigan, Louisville and Virginia. That opens questions as to whether it's really at the same level as the elite teams in the tournament. 

The fact that Calipari has taken his team to four Final Fours already doesn't hurt its case either. 


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