2016 Final Four Odds and Preview: Can Syracuse Shock the World?
The 2016 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament has not gone quite according to plan. The first two rounds were exciting and fairly unpredictable, but as we approach the Final Four, we’ve somehow been dwindled down to just #1 seed.
Kansas, Oregon and Virginia turned out to be teases, and instead it’s the North Carolina Tar Heels who enter next Saturday as the clear favorites to win college basketball’s title.
But does that mean they’re a lock?
The odds suggest it’s pretty close, but Vegas still gives Villanova and Oklahoma a chance to make some noise:
- North Carolina (Odds to win: Even)
- Villanova (+275)
- Oklahoma (+350)
- Syracuse (+800)
The Tar Heels don’t offer a big return on your investment, but they’re still the most likely winner here. Brice Johnson is the best big man in the country – especially now that the tourney is down to just four teams.
Syracuse doesn’t have anyone that can stop him and neither do Villanova or Oklahoma. North Carolina also has the best coaching, the best depth and the versatility throughout their roster to adapt and combat any of these three teams as needed.
Their one weakness is their very average outside shooting, which does leave them open to getting exposed by a very good Syracuse defense. Even if they get past the Orange, that suspect three-point shooting could be a problem again when they face Villanova or Oklahoma – both of which can score in bunched. The Wildcats can specifically destroy defenses from outside, having Villanova as potentially the worst matchup for North Carolina through the final two games.
Still, North Carolina hasn’t made it this far wishing and hoping to shoot better from outside. They’re this good because they attack, defend, adjust and are efficient. It’s not a sexy bet, but chances are if you put money down on the Tar Heels, you’ll be rewarded with a similar return.
Using a $100 bet, you can get a pretty good idea of what your payout will be off of these odds. The Tar Heels are the only #1 seed left and probably are also the best overall team with the best coach. It makes perfectly good sense that they’re favored to win, so a $100 bet will naturally win you just that ($100) back if you pick them to win and they end up being the champs.
Talk about not getting much bang for your buck, though, right? Villanova and Oklahoma are two very solid candidates to stop North Carolina from taking down the final nets, and one of them will for sure make it to the title game, as they face each other on Saturday.
Vegas currently gives the Wildcats the better odds because they’re a -2.5 favorite, and that makes sense due to their depth and the way they balance their offense out. Jay Wright’s crew just took down Kansas, too, so they clearly can beat anyone and are a very viable title contender. Placing $100 down for them gets you a cool $275 back. The odds are good, the payout is solid, and it’s a fairly safe bet.
Oklahoma is a little riskier, but the Sooners beat a #1 seed, as well, actually crushed the Wildcats earlier this year and have arguably the best player in the country in Buddy Hield. They absolutely can beat both Villanova and North Carolina (or Syracuse) and at their current odds, would bring back a strong $350 off of a $100 bet.
If you’re looking for safety, the Tar Heels are the pick. However, this is March Madness and none of these bets are giving you much back. After all, we already know who make up the Final Four now, so even picking the team with the worst odds (Cuse) only would bring back $800 back on a $100 bet.
The Dark Horse
Of course, “only” $800 is not a small amount of money, and technically speaking, Syracuse has a 1/4 chance of winning it all. They do have to get past North Carolina, but there is some legit logic to support that.
For one, Jim Boeheim is a very smart, crafty head coach. He’s experience and he’s won a national title before. Secondly, the Orange hail from the ACC, where they’ve been very battled tested and actually went up against these very Tar Heels twice earlier this year. Both meetings ended in North Carolina wins, but it’s never easy beating any team three times in the same year, no matter the sport, no matter the level.
Syracuse has nothing to lose. That was the case when they backed into the NCAA tournament just weeks ago and four wins later, boasting an elite defense, nothing has changed. In fact, they only have endless motivation, as they’ve been constantly doubted as a 10-seed, and a bitter conference rival that few are giving them a chance against is what stands in their way of a trip to the national title game.
It’s worth noting that the Orange could always pull off the impossible and beat the Tar Heels and then suddenly fall flat in the title game, but with just four teams left, they’re probably the bet to chase. Just think, if you have a solid bank roll that allows a nice $1,000 bet, that could quickly turn into $8,000 if Syracuse can win just two more games.
The odds do not support Syracuse running the table completely, so that is definitely not a safe bet. However, in a maddening college basketball tournament, they most certainly make for the most amount of fun.
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