It is easy to go with the popular pick to win the tournament and that is especially true this year. Kentucky is going to be the overwhelming March Madness winner on the majority of brackets and it is also as big an NCAA tournament favorite in recent memory, drawing a 11 to 10 line in Bovada’s latest college basketball odds release. Sometimes it feels good and right to go against the grain, though. I’ve gone back and forth, somewhat, in between those two positions in making my 2015 Final Four Predictions. Ultimately, I decided to join the chalky herd; however, the Wildcats are not my pick to win it all. Without further ado, here are my NCAA March Madness picks.
2015 Final Four Predictions: NCAA Tournament Bracket Odds Provided by Bovada.lv
Midwest – Kentucky 11 to 10 NCAA Tournament Odds
On one hand it seems like not taking Kentucky would set up a better opportunity to win any sort of office picks pool. Anyone brave enough to do that could find themselves looking really foolish or part of a smart minority. But who in this bracket really has a chance to beat the Wildcats? My thought is just one other team. Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish, who stormed their way past Miami, Duke and North Carolina en route to an ACC Tournament title last week, have won eight of their last nine games. And having played in the ACC, Notre Dame is battled tested enough not to lose its lunch at the sight of the Wildcats. Still, Kentucky is my pick to reach the National Semifinals.
East – Virginia 12 to 1 NCAA Tournament Odds
The Cavaliers have dropped two of their last three games and their most recent setback, a semifinals loss to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament resulted in them losing out on a potential one-seed in the East. Red hot Villanova, a winner of 15 straight, got the nod instead. The Wildcats are a tough team and they, according to TeamRankings.com, played the 22nd most difficult schedule in the country. Virginia, though, played the seventh hardest schedule. I like the Cavaliers defense to carry them through, but they will have a difficult route to Villanova (should the Wildcats advance to the regional final) with Michigan State and Oklahoma as potential stumbling blocks.
This was a tough call between Wisconsin and Arizona, two teams that hooked up in last year’s West regional final. I decided to take the Badgers, though, mostly because they have the best player in Frank Kaminsky. Either one of these two teams are a potential threat to the Kentucky and, in fact, I like Wisconsin to get the better of the Wildcats in Indianapolis, avenging last year’s Final Four loss to John Calipari’s squad.
South – Duke (9 to 1 NCAA Tournament Odds)
Duke stumbled in the ACC Tournament, losing to Notre Dame in the semifinals, but it had won 12 straight prior to its meeting with the Irish. The Blue Devils were slightly banged up, dealing with a number of ankle injuries, but they will have had ample time to heal up before Friday’s meeting with either North Florida or Robert Morris. Duke has plenty of motivation (last year’s tournament opening loss to Mercer) and, more importantly, talent to win the South, which is, frankly, the weakest region in the tournament.
NCAA March Madness Pick: Wisconsin at 8 to 1 odds