March Madness Tipping Off With Houston Favored To Win Title

The NCAA men’s 68-team basketball tournament begins Tuesday night. Alabama, Houston, Kansas, and Purdue are the four top seeds. The Final Four will take place April 1 and the national championship game is set for April 3 in Houston.


And here we go!

It’s March and the madness of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins this week.

This year’s 68-team tournament appears as wide-open as any in recent memory even though Alabama (South Region), Houston (Midwest Region), Kansas (West Region) and Purdue (East Region) have been named No. 1 seeds. Yet, don’t count on any team as a lock to advance to Houston to play in the Final Four on April 1.

Furthermore, history says it would be highly unlikely to see all No. 1 seeds still playing on the final weekend of the tournament. It’s happened only once in the tournament with a field of at least 64 that all four top seeds reached the Final Four. That occurred in 2008 when top seeds North Carolina, UCLA, Memphis, and Kansas made it to the Final Four and the Jayhawks went on to defeat the Tigers, 75-68, in overtime in the title game.

The sportsbooks appear to agree that one team is the favorite to win the national title. FanDuel and DraftKings have odds of +500 on the Houston Cougars winning the national title right in their backyard while Barstool and BetRivers have odds of +550 on the Cougars cutting down the nets ceremoniously celebrating as national champions. DraftKings, BetRivers and Barstool have odds of +700 on the overall No. 1 seed Alabama marching through the tournament and finishing as champions while FanDuel has odds of +800 on Alabama winning the national title.

As rare as it is to have all four No. 1 seeds advance to the Final Four, it’s also unlikely to think the Final Four will occur without at least one of the top seeds playing the last weekend of the season. The Final Four has taken place without at least one No. 1 seed only twice during the field of 64 era. The 2006 and 2011 Final Fours occurred without a No. 1 seed in the mix.

Here’s a quick look at each of the four regions:

In the South, the Crimson Tide, led by talented freshman Brandon Miller, who has been associated with a murder case involving one of his former teammates being charged for murder earlier this year, is the team to beat. Arizona, Baylor, and Virginia round out the region’s Top 4 seeds, respectively. No. 14 seed UC-Santa Barbara, which faces No. 3 Baylor, and No. 13 seed Furman, which plays No. 4 Virginia, could end up as South Region surprises.

In the Midwest, Texas, Xavier, and Indiana complete the Top 4 seeds, respectively. Look out for No. 10 Penn State and No. 6 Iowa State to make some serious noise in the region.

In the West, Kansas leads the way and is trying to become only the eighth team to repeat as national champions. The Jayhawks would become the first program to repeat as national champions since Florida claimed back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007. UCLA, Gonzaga, and UConn complete the Top 4 seeds, respectively. No. 13 Iona, led by longtime coach Rick Pitino, is a team to keep an eye on in a first-round matchup against No. 4 seed UConn. No. 5 Saint Mary’s could end up as the biggest surprise of the entire tournament.

In the East, Marquette, Kansas State, and Tennessee complete the Top 4 seeds, respectively. Watch out for longtime NCAA title-contenders No. 5 Duke, No. 6 Kentucky, and No. 7 Michigan State to stir things up in the region, which is perhaps the most competitive of the four.

Overall, what to look for  throughout the tournament? Expect the unexpected in each round of games. Also, count on seeing at least one No. 1 seed making it to the Final Four because history tells us so.

It’s March and let the madness begin!

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