When the NCAA Tournament opened up this year, Virginia was the No. 1 seed with the longest odds to win it all (+750; as of March 17). They were the No. 1 seed that many believed would be beaten first. But here they are, the lone remaining No. 1 seed heading into the Final Four.
As the only 1-seed, a logical argument can be made that they should be the new favorite to win the tournament now. After all, of the four remaining, Virginia was the better team during the bulk of the season. So, why not make them the new favorites?
Oddsmakers have done just that. According to BetOnline.ag, the odds to win it all are now set at:
- Virginia +150
- Michigan State +200
- Texas Tech +400
- Auburn +600
It is not hard to understand why Auburn has the longest odds of the bunch. The Tigers just lost one of their sone of their best players to a torn ACL in the Sweet Sixteen. They were able to ride the subsequent emotion to a win over Kentucky in the Elite Eight.
Tapping back into that energy following the injury to Chuma Okeke will be hard to do. Even then, it may not be enough to overcome a talented Virginia team.
But why not go with either Texas Tech or Michigan State as the favorite? Texas Tech has one of the best defenses in the country and easily the best defense of the four remaining teams. They are not the best offensive team left, but they have proven that they have enough.
The Red Raiders are the only remaining team that did not have at least one close call earlier in the tournament.
Michigan State is probably the most complete team of the four remaining. They are not a great offensive or defensive team. But they are really good on both ends of the court—and they beat Duke. After taking down who many believed was the best team in the land, few would have argued if oddsmakers had installed them as the new favorite.
Maybe the close call in the first round and the sloppy game in the second scared oddsmakers off. But if that were the case, there would be no logical argument for making Virginia the favored team.
Virginia had another scare in the first round before getting it together in the second half and securing the win. Their second-round win over Oklahoma was a better one. But the Sweet 16 game against Oregon was just downright ugly. As for their Elite Eight win over Purdue, they barely survived that game.
The Cavaliers were a great regular season team, but they have not been a great tournament team this year. At the most, they have been adequate.
‘Adequate’ will probably not be enough to Auburn, but if Auburn struggles from three-point range, it will be. Should they survive, either Michigan State or Texas Tech will beat them in the Championship game. Michigan State is favored to beat Texas Tech, but have you seen that Red Raiders defense in action?