The 2018 NCAA Tournament will come down to three of the nation’s top-ranked teams and one of the most memorable Cinderella stories in March Madness history. No.1 Villanova, No.1 Kansas, No.3 Michigan and No.11 Loyola-Chicago will compete in the Final Four for college basketball’s top prize.
Villanova began the tournament as the betting favorite to win the national championship, and that remains the same just days before they are set to play in San Antonio. The Wildcats have even odds to win their second title in three years.
Michigan has the second-best odds, though Kansas isn’t far behind. Loyola is still considered to be somewhat of a longshot with nearly 10/1 odds.
— OddsShark (@OddsShark) March 26, 2018
The Jayhawks are one of two No.1 seeds remaining, but they have the third-best odds because they’ll be forced to take on Villanova Saturday. The Wildcats are five-point favorites, according to OddsShark, and the game’s over/under is 155 points.
None of the national championship contenders cruised to the Final Four like Villanova. The Wildcats won all four of their games by double-digits, defeating No.3 Texas Tech 71-59 Sunday afternoon. It was the first time in the tournament that they didn’t score more than 80 points.
Kansas needed overtime to defeat No.2 Duke Sunday and escape the Elite Eight. The Jayhawks were considered to be the weakest No.1 seed by some, ranking fourth in the AP Top 25 Poll. Sophomore guard Malik Newman is averaging 25.7 points over the team’s last three games.
The betting line is five points in the other Final Four matchup, as well, though the over/under is just 129. Michigan is favored to win a battle between two teams that failed to score 70 points in three of their tournament games.
The Wolverines have found different ways to win during March Madness. After needing a buzzer-beater to defeat No.6 Houston in the second round, Michigan had maybe the most impressive win of the entire tournament when they beat Texas A&M 99-72 in the Sweet 16. Ranking No.7 in the AP Top 25 Poll, John Beilein’s team has won 13 straight games.
Loyola might be the hottest team in the Final Four. They haven’t lost since January, proving that they are no ordinary No.11 seed. After winning their first three tournament games by a total of four points, the Ramblers blew out No.9 Kansas State by 16 points in the Elite Eight.
A Saturday night matchup with Michigan will be Loyola’s toughest test of March. Even coming close to defeating the Wolverines would be a historic effort for the Ramblers.
Four other double-digit seeds have reached the Final Four, and none made it to the national championship game. No.11 VCU came the closest with an eight-point loss in 2011. No.11 Syracuse was the last double-digit seed in the Final Four, losing to North Carolina 83-66 in 2016.
Loyola’s magical run might come to an end when they face the Big Ten Tournament Champions. Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges and Co. could prove to be too much for Kansas.
That would set a national title matchup between Villanova and Michigan, with the team that’s been favored since the beginning cutting down the nets on April 2.
National Championship Prediction: Villanova over Michigan