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There isn't a time of year quite like March Madness. We've already seen some tremendous basketball all season long, and that continued into conference tournament week last week. But that was all one giant appetizer. Now, it's time for the feast of all feasts.
We have a bit of an interesting twist in the East Region that you wouldn't normally see. The team favored to win the East is Villanova. The team with the best odds to win the NCAA Tournament out of the East is Duke. Translation? The oddsmakers think that the Blue Devils would be the better bet in the Final Four. The margin, of course, isn't all that large, as the Wildcats are set at +850 to win the title for a second straight year, while Duke has opened at +600. Sleeper teams in this region are going to be few and far between, as it would take a brave man to bet against both of these two ultimately representing the region.
The West is the least likely bracket to win the National Championship. Most recognize Gonzaga and Arizona to be no better than the third best No. 1 and No. 2 seeds respectively. That shouldn't take away from either of these teams. We know that the Wildcats have the talent to win it all on the back of Allonzo Trier, Lauri Markkanen and Kadeem Allen, if nothing else. It's a deep team too, and that's why many will prefer backing the Cats at +950 rather than the Bulldogs at +1000 to win the National Championship. For our money? If there's a bracket with a shocking entrant into the Final Four, this is it. All three of Florida State +3000 , West Virginia +3500 and Notre Dame +8000 feel like they have a legitimate shot.
Oh what could have been in the Midwest! Alas, an Oregon team that was once considered to be a 10 to 1 shot to win it all is down to +2500 after Chris Boucher tore his Achilles in the Pac-12 Tournament. That has left the door wide open for a very talented, yet generally accepted as over-seeded Louisville team to barge into the Elite 8. Keep an eye on Michigan, though. The Wolverines somewhat unpredictably won the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 8 seed, and they've got nice long odds to win this tournament as well at +6500. Kansas though, is the overwhelming favorite at +800 to win the National Championship.
Heavy hitters, galore. The South is absolutely stacked. When a really good Butler team and a Cincinnati team that plays some of the best defense in America aren't even considered legitimate threats because of the stacked nature of this bracket, that tells you how good it is. North Carolina is the co-favorite to win it all at +600 in spite of the fact that it was bounced out of the ACC Tournament by Duke in the semis. Kentucky, largely accepted as the most dangerous No. 2 seed of them all, is +850, while UCLA is the one No. 3 seed that bucks this trend of Top 2 seeds dominating the National Championship odds at +1200. The biggest problem with UCLA and Kentucky is that they have to go through each other just for the right to get to North Carolina. If all the chalk holds up in the first week of the dance though, that second week is going to be a tremendous amount of fun down South.
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