Final Four Predictions 2019: Odds and Picks for Top NCAA Tournament Teams

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 19, 2019

Virginia guard Kyle Guy (5) Virginia guard De'Andre Hunter (12) and Virginia guard Ty Jerome (11) watch a foul shot during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Charlottesville, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. Virginia defeated Wake Forest 68-45. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Steve Helber/Associated Press

For as much buzz as bold predictions and hot takes can generate, the best prognostications are the accurate ones.

Oftentimes, that means the boring ones. But if you're collecting the winnings from your March Madness pool, who cares if you're doing it with chalk-covered hands?

Favored teams hold that designation for a reason. Sure, you won't have the sexiest bracket if you put a club like Duke, North Carolina or Gonzaga as your champion, but the tradeoff is your bracket hopes are tied to a really good team.

That doesn't mean we're suggesting you take the higher seed in every matchup. But as you look through our Final Four predictions belowlisted beneath the bracket and top-10 championship odds, courtesy of OddsShark—you'll see we are big fans of the favorites in the 2019 NCAA men's basketball tournament.


2019 NCAA Tournament Bracket


2019 NCAA Tournament Championship Odds

1. Duke +225

2. Virginia +550

3. Gonzaga +600

4. North Carolina +800

T-5. Kentucky +1200

T-5. Michigan State +1200

7. Tennessee +1400

8. Michigan +1600

9. Texas Tech +2000

10. Auburn +2500


Final Four Predictions

South Regional

Do whatever it takes to free your mind of Virginia's stunningly early exit from last year's tournament. This club is as balanced as they come, and it shows in the fact the Cavaliers are the only team holding top-five KenPom.com efficiency rankings on both offense (second) and defense (fifth).

Virginia has a pair of 2019 NBA prospects in De'Andre Hunter (15.1 points, 5.0 rebounds) and Ty Jerome (13.0 points, 5.4 assists), plus a third leader in Kyle Guy (15.6 points, 46.3 three-point percentage). The Cavaliers only lost three times all season, twice against Duke and then to Florida State in the ACC tournament.

While this regional has some potential roadblocks in teams such as second-seeded Tennessee and third-seeded Purdue, don't be surprised if Virginia treats opponents more like speed bumps.

Prediction: No. 1 Virginia


West Regional

Top-seeded Gonzaga is a force, and second-seeded Michigan couples smart offensive play with a dominant defense (second on KenPom).

But there's just something to love about third-seeded Texas Tech—or someone rather.

It's sophomore swingman Jarrett Culver, the No. 6 player taken in the most recent mock draft from Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman.

The 20-year-old's stock has soared along with his statistics in his second season (18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists), and that's without his three-ball finding the mark nearly as often as it did in 2017-18 (38.2 percent then, 32.3 percent now).

The Red Raiders defend better than anyone, and if they're getting steady supplemental scoring and shooting from Davide Moretti and Matt Mooney, they'll be dancing their way into the national semifinals.

Prediction: No. 3 Texas Tech


East Regional

This is Duke's region to lose. We'll let North Carolina Central coach LeVelle Moton explain.

"You hear all these coaches talking about, 'I don't care who we play.' [...] Let's put this on record: I care. I don't want ... Zion [Williamson], that's like me playing with my six-year-old son," he said, via For The Win's Andrew Joseph. "I don't want any part of that."

It would be interesting to see how many other coaches in this region would admit to that if injected with truth serum.

The Blue Devils are incredible. When Williamson played at least 15 minutes, they went 26-2. The 6'7", 285-pounder averaged 27.0 points and 10.0 rebounds while leading Duke to the ACC tournament title. He's also just one of four potential 2019 first-round picks on the roster, along with R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones.

Not to take anything away from teams such as second-seeded Michigan State and fourth-seeded Virginia Tech, but the Blue Devils have the firepower to obliterate this region.

Prediction: No. 1 Duke


Midwest Regional

The top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels are 21-4 since the start of December. Their only defeats during that stretch came against fellow No. 1 seeds Duke and Virginia, No. 2 seed Kentucky and No. 7 seed Louisville. Their victories included a win over Gonzaga, two over Duke, one over Virginia Tech and another over Florida State.

"North Carolina has eight wins over NET top 25 teams, and all eight of those victories came by a margin of at least nine points," Bleacher Report's Kerry Miller noted. "If this isn't a title contender, what is?"

Freshman Coby White steers the offensive attack with nightly contributions of 16.3 points and 4.2 assists. Seniors Cameron Johnson and Luke Maye each average more than 14 points per night, with the former hitting a blistering 46.5 percent of his threes and the latter corralling a team-best 10.5 rebounds. Freshman Nassir Little, MVP of last summer's McDonald's All-American game, has as much potential as any reserve in the country.

All told, KenPom sees this club as having college basketball's seventh-best offense and 10th-best defense. That type of two-way excellence should help the Heels navigate a path to the Final Four around possible obstacles like fourth-seeded Kansas (or fifth-seeded Auburn) and second-seeded Kentucky.

Prediction: No. 1 North Carolina