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Below are consensus odds to make the Final Four and odds to win the national championship.
While I think this is going to be a crazy tournament that features a bunch of early upsets, I’m targeting four teams that have star power, depth and proven track records: No. 1 Gonzaga (West), No. 1 Arizona (South), No. 2 Auburn (Midwest) and No. 4 UCLA (East). While all four teams fit the mold of a championship bet, I’m targeting Auburn to win it all.
If you recall, Auburn was the No. 1 team in the nation for a while during the regular season and finished at 27-5 overall. One of the reasons why I like this team so much (other than Bruce Pearl’s general psychotic nature on the sidelines) is the fact that it has two Wooden Award finalists: freshman forward Jabari Smith (17.1 points, 7.0 rebounds in 28.4 minutes) and 7-1 big man Walker Kessler (11.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.5 blocks in 25.8 minutes). Sophomore guards K.D. Johnson (12.3 points in 27.5 minutes) and Wendell Green Jr. (12.1 points, 5.0 assists in 26.4 minutes) add even more scoring depth for this talented bunch. This is an efficient team on both ends of the floor. With balance and star power, I’m a fan of Auburn at +1470 to cut down the nets!
In the Final Four, I’m going with a pretty underrated team (expect the unexpected, people) and taking Providence to beat Arizona in the Final Four to make it to the national championship game. It also just so happens I am picking Providence to win said championship. The Friars have been an exciting team this season and I think they’re ready to gear up. Ed Cooley is a tough guy to root against and, I mean, this team went 25-5 this year, with a 14-3 conference record. And they beat teams like UConn, Butler and Creighton, so what I’m saying is with the Luck of the Friars there’s a chance.
My head tells me that we should see Arizona and Gonzaga, the top two teams in the country this year, in the title game to prove who's best. My heart wants Duke to make a title run in Coach K's final season. But history says that neither will likely happen, so this Final Four is a compromise with a '90s nostalgia to it. Gonzaga falls short again, losing to Duke in the Elite 8; Kentucky takes advantage of Baylor missing Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua; Kansas survives a wild Midwest region; and Arizona cruises past the other Wildcats from Villanova in the South region. In the Final Four, Kentucky avenges their loss to the Blue Devils earlier this season, while Arizona takes down the Jayhawks. That sets up an epic Wildcat showdown in the title game, with Arizona, the most complete team in the country, cutting down the nets.
BEST BETS BY REGION: EAST | SOUTH | MIDWEST | WEST
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