One of the craziest and best times of the year has finally arrived, and thus, there are billions of people are spending a good amount of time filling out their 2017 NCAA March Madness brackets, and making their Final Four picks and predictions. Much like every year, there are millions of dollars on the line up for grabs to anyone smart enough to fill out a perfect bracket.
All the “Madness” gets underway Wednesday, March 16-17, with the first round. For all intents and purposes, the winners of the First Four round were Kansas State (South), Mt. St. Mary’s (East), UC Davis (Midwest) and USC (East). That means that the final spots have been filled, putting the ball on the college basketball betting aficionados’ court to do their thing and make their final NCAA March Madness picks and Final Four predictions.
Midwest – Kansas 7 to 5 NCAA Tournament Odds
This year, the Midwest Region will be lead by none other than Kansas in Kansas City, who will tip things off as the betting favorites to win its respective part of the bracket at +140 odds. After compiling a record of 28-4 during the regular season (1st in the Big 12), the Jayhawks are considered the second betting favorites to win the entire 2017 NCAA Tournament — at a very attractive +700 odds. For those looking for bracket busters, there’s no question Kansas is going to be hard to beat. Nevertheless, upset picks and predictions for this region include the second-seeded Louisville Cardinals +320 and the third-seed Oregon Ducks at +475. However, I still like their chances to make it to the Final Four this year.
East – Duke 19 to 10 NCAA Tournament Odds
In the East bracket, which takes place in the Big Apple, the team with a target painted on its back will be the region’s top-seeded Villanova at +170 odds. The Wildcats will have plenty to prove, however, as — out of the (early) Final Four predictions and picks frontrunners — they currently have the worst betting odds to win the tournament at +900. Villanova went 31-3 this year, which was good enough for first place in the Big East, but there’s one other bet to make in my calculations. Always considered a powerhouse in the tourney, the Duke Blue Devils are the main reason why the Wildcats are getting no love to emerge out of the East. After going 27-8 on the year, Coach K & Co. will tip off regional play with +190 betting odds to win their respective region, and have the third best money line to win the entire tourney at +750. I think this is the very best bet to make this year, not only in the East Region, but to win the whole shebang.
West – Arizona 2 to 1 NCAA Tournament Odds
The West Region will be decided in San Jose this year, led by another school with a big name in the NCAA March Madness hemisphere. According to college basketball odds makers, top-seeded Gonzaga is the consensus favorite to reach the Final Four at +160. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs have an undesirable trait in common with something Villanova this year: they are not decisively among the favorite Final Four predictions and picks options. In terms of the big picture, Gonzaga is currently tied for fourth place in the odds to win the 2017 NCAA Tournament at +850. What makes this situation unique is that the team they are tied with also happens to reside in the same bracket. Listed as the biggest threat to win the West is Arizona at +170, which is my pick as one of the Final Four finalists. The Wildcats finished first in the Pac-12 after accumulating a record of 30-4, and their chances to take home the hardware by becoming National Champs has been valued at +850.
South – North Carolina 21 to 20 NCAA Tournament Odds
Finally, we have reached the South Region, which is spearheaded by the consensus team to win it all this year. With +105 college basketball odds to win the South bracket, North Carolina will be one of, if not, the most popular predictions and picks choices to go all the way. After going 27-7 on the season, which was good enough for first place in the ACC, the Tar Heels (+550) have the best odds to be the last team standing when the confetti clears in Phoenix on April 3. But, much like most of the other regions, UNC could face some stiff competition, in particular in the form of the always-dangerous Kentucky Wildcats (+225) and UCLA Bruins (+450).
NCAA March Madness Pick: Duke Blue Devils +750