There weren’t many surprises from the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament with the top three seeds from each region advancing to the Sweet 16. The Duke Blue Devils had the closest call with a narrow victory over Central Florida on Sunday, but that near-miss didn’t sway oddsmakers, who still have the Dookies pegged as the favorite to cut down the nets in Minneapolis on April 8.
The four top-seeds all remain as the betting favorites with No. 1 overall Duke leading the way with odds of +320. The ACC is well represented in the Sweet 16 with five teams still in contention for the National Championship. One of those clubs will be eliminated in the regional semifinal with Duke and Virginia Tech ( +2650 ) set to square off in a rematch of a February game won by the Hokies. Oregon is the lone double-digit seed to advance this far. The Ducks didn’t look like a 12-seed in dispatching their first two opponents by an average of 18.5 points per game. They are ahead of only LSU with odds +3300 to win the title. The Bayou Bengals opened with odds of +5500.
Here are the updated college basketball national championship odds at BookMaker.eu.
Odds to win 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at BookMaker.eu
North Carolina +670
Michigan State +1,500
Texas Tech +1,950
Florida State +2,650
Virginia Tech +2,650
Just in case you had doubts as to what conference is the most difficult in the country, I think the ACC answered those questions. Five teams from that league are still alive in the Sweet 16, including No. 1 seeds Duke, Virginia and North Carolina. And three-quarters of the field is made up of teams from three power conferences. Four teams from the SEC and three from the Big 10 are still playing.
It’s up to Gonzaga and Houston to carry the torch for the mid-majors. The Bulldogs are the only No. 1 seed not from the ACC and they fell behind Virginia on the odds board, though not by much. The Zags are now the third favorite to win it all with odds of +440. Houston reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in 35 years and the Cougs have a difficult matchup with Kentucky on Friday.
Led by Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Young, Houston reached the national title game in 1984, only to lose to Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas. That loss brought an end to a run of three straight Final Fours and the Cougars had just one Tournament victory until they beat Georgia State in the first round. The Cougs are further down the odds board at +2650 along with ACC members Florida State and Virginia Tech.
Gonzaga recovered from its loss to Saint Mary’s in the WCC tournament final, dispatching Fairleigh Dickinson and Baylor to setup a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 with Florida State. The Zags have payback on their slate after falling to the Noles 75-60. The Bulldogs didn’t have Brandon Clarke last season and the San Jose State transfer dropped 36 with five blocked shots on the Bears in the second round.
It’s hard not to like the Zags with such a complete team. They have size, can score the basketball and defend exceptionally well. They shot over 50 percent from the field in their first two wins scoring an average of 85 points while holding their opponents to an average of 60 points.
Oregon has won 10 straight games and the Ducks are certainly better than their No. 12 seed indicates. They are an athletic group and can compete with everybody in the field. Defensively they were stifling in San Jose, holding their opponents to exactly 54 points in each contest.
There is some history to consider. The lowest seed ever to win a title since the field was expanded to 64 teams was the Villanova Wildcats, who advanced as the No. 8 seed to upset Georgetown in 1985. In fact, no team seeded below No. 8 has ever reached the title game, let alone win it.
Then again we never had a No. 16 seed beat a No. 1 until last season when Virginia was upset by UMBC, so I guess there’s a first for everything.
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