The first weekend of, arguably, the greatest sports tournament in the world did not disappoint. Is your bracket busted yet? According to ESPN’s Tournament Challenge, there are no perfect brackets left. Considering the number of upsets in just two rounds, it makes sense. Who has the best odds to win March Madness out of the Sweet Sixteen?
Best Odds to Win March Madness of the Sweet Sixteen
It’s no surprise that the Bulldogs have the best odds to win March Madness. They’ve won their conference 18 of the last 22 years and have shown their ability to keep the pain train rolling. They came into this year’s tourney as the top-seeded team, trying to avenge last year’s National Championship loss. A 28-3 record in the regular season, all losses to ranked teams, shows that Gonzaga is not going away.
Gonzaga opened the tournament with a solid 21-point win over (16) Georgia State. As the one seed, and top-overall seed, it’s expected that you win it all. Fans will never forget how UMBC took down Virginia a few years ago, but Gonzaga was never at risk. They had to earn their Round of 32 win over a tough Memphis team. Down 10 at half, Drew Timme and the Bulldogs rallied to secure the victory.
Their next game is Thursday against a really good (4) Arkansas team where betting is now legal (here you can see all Arkansas launch updates). Should they down the Razorbacks, the road gets significantly more difficult. On one hand, they could avenge one of their three losses and face (2) Duke or they could face the best defensive team in the nation in (3) Texas Tech.
It cannot be a March Madness tournament without Kansas. Locking in with the second-best odds to win March Madness, the Jayhawks have the “easiest” path to the title of the three remaining one seeds. On the year, Kansas scored 78.7 points per game, leading them to share a regular-season Big 12 Championship with Baylor. They then went on and took care of business in the Big 12 tournament, downing Texas Tech in the championship. They are led by Naismith finalist, Ochai Agbaji.
The Jayhawks easily dispatched (16) Texas Southern, winning by 27. (9) Creighton made Kansas sweat in the next round. Kansas held a slim one-point halftime lead, led by as much as nine, and ended up needing a strong final minute to hold off the Blue Jays who trimmed the deficit to one point. Remy Martin, an Arizona State transfer, led the way for Kansas, scoring 20 points
Kansas has drawn (4) Providence in the Sweet Sixteen. The Friars are not a team to overlook as they have been playing their best basketball to date. Should the Jayhawks survive and advance, one of a pair of double-digit-seeded teams will be waiting in (11) Iowa State or (10) Miami (FL).
The third-best odds to win March Madness go to the one-seed Arizona Wildcats of the Pac-12. As the dust settled after this crazy basketball season, Arizona came out as the second-best team in the nation, per the AP Poll. Winners of both the regular season and tournament, the Wildcats have been the cream of the crop in the Pac-12. Winners of 16 in a row, Arizona has been getting hot at the right moment.
As was the case with the previous two one seeds, Arizona was able to take care of business against (16) Wright State in the first round of the tournament. (9) TCU did push Arizona to the brink where it took overtime to survive. TCU erased a nine-point deficit by going on a 12-0 run in the second half. Bennedict Mathurin made the game-tying three to force overtime and single-handedly out-scored TCU in the extra period.
Arizona’s next game is Thursday against a very good (5) Houston team out of the AAC. Should they get the win, it’s (2) Villanova or (11) Michigan who awaits the right to play for the Final Four. Things are just getting good and this weekend is going to have the best games of the year.
Just below their Sweet Sixteen opponent, Houston has a legitimate shot to win it all. ESPN’s Matchup Predictor actually has the Cougars with a 60.5% to beat Arizona. Houston posted a 31-5 record in an under-rated AAC. During the regular season, two of those losses came at the hands of Memphis. Houston was able to avenge those losses by taking down the Tigers 71.53 in the AAC Tournament Title Game.
While the higher seeds struggled to dispatch their opponents, Houston has coasted to the Sweet Sixteen. They took down (12) UAB, 82-68, and busted a number of brackets with their 15-point beating of (4) Illinois. The Fighting Illini scored first and led 7-5 early on, but Houston overpowered them and never relinquished. Even when Illinois clawed back to tie the game in the second, Houston pulled away late.
As was the case with Arizona, they have a tough test on Thursday. Then Michigan or Villanova await.
The B1G sent eight teams to the tournament. Only two remain. Naturally, the lower-seeded teams didn’t have the expectations, but to only have two left is surprising. The Boilermakers finished the regular season with a 29-7 record, third-best in the B1G. They had their opportunity to win the season series against Iowa in the B1G Tourney but ultimately fell in the Championship. Purdue is led by All-Big Ten first-teamer Jaden Ivey and Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Trevion Williams.
In the first two rounds, Purdue took care of business against (14) Yale and (6) Texas, winning by 22 and 10, respectively. Their win over Texas was thanks to a 20-0 run over a nine-minute stretch. Purdue has been a solid team all year and it’s no wonder that they’ve been dangerous in the tournament.
Unfortunately for Purdue, they face (15) Saint Peter’s who everyone outside of West Lafayette, Indiana will be rooting for. Everyone loves a good Cinderella story and the possibility of a 15 seed making the Elite Eight will be enough to generate ratings for days. There have been three 15 seeds to make the Sweet Sixteen (Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 and Oral Robers in 2021), but their journeys have stopped there. If Purdue can avoid the upset, (8) North Carolina or (4) UCLA awaits.
Rest of the Sweet Sixteen
Texas Tech (+1200)
North Carolina (+2800)
Miami (FL) (+5000)
Iowa State (+10000)
Saint Peter’s (+15000)