Can an Elite Eight without a No. 1 seed be “elite?” We find out this year as March Madness finds itself without a No. 1 seeded team in the Elite Eight for the first time since seeds began in 1979.
Both the Houston Cougars and Alabama Crimson Tide (the overall No. 1 seed) were pushed aside by opponents in the Sweet 16 on Friday. The tournament still has plenty of high seeds, but that sound you heard in sports bars across America last night was brackets busting.
The University of Connecticut has emerged as the odds favorite as the rest of crazy college hoops tournament weekend number two is played out on Saturday and Sunday. The Huskies are +300, according to Caesars Sportsbook, to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The last time UConn won March Madness was in 2014, but don’t shed tears for the school: the Huskies have four national titles since 1999. Add in ten titles for the UConn women’s team since 2000, and you sort of feel like March Madness is that school’s own little playground.
But the Elite Eight games will have to be played before we know if UConn or some other team (even Creighton?) will get to strut to the Final Four the weekend of April 1.
Raise your hand if you had Florida Athletic University in your Elite Eight before the round of 64 began. We’re waiting. Unless you’re an FAU alum, the mother of one of the FAU players, or an actual owl, we don’t think you saw this coming.
FAU is the lowest seed left in March Madness, and they have a nice chance to advance to the Final Four. Their opponent on Saturday, Kansas State, has played a bit uneven in the tournament. FAU’s guard play is as good as any team still in the dance. The oddsmakers at Caesars say the Owls are +110 to beat K State, and +1.5 on the point spread.
A winning $100 bet on FAU via Caesars mobile sports betting app to win March Madness would payout $1,400. HOOT! HOOT!
Not only do most basketball fans not know how to pronounce Creighton (it’s CRAY-TIN), they don’t know it’s in Omaha, Nebraska. For some reason, the Bluejays spell their nickname as one word, and they play in the Big East. Even a third grader knows Omaha is not east of much.
The Caesars point spread is +1.5 on San Diego State, while the Bluejays are-125 to win this Elite Eight matchup. That’s because they’ve looked as poised and tough as any of the eight teams still standing. If anything might be of concern, it’s the lack of senior leadership on this team.
Sophomore guard Nijel Park shot an insane 7-for-10 from three-point range as the Hurricanes shocked Houston on Friday. You’d think there’s no chance the kid can shoot that well again, but he may not need to. His teammates were 4-for-15 in three attempts, and it’s likely they won’t be that bad again. We like Miami to surf their way into the Final Four. Caesars is giving you 4.5 points and offering +162 on Miami against Texas, and we’d take that all day long.
Has Gonzaga been good for long enough to be a blueblood? Probably not, since the Bulldogs have yet to win a national title. It would be ironic if Mark Few finally got that monkey off his program’s back in a season when his team was not expected to challenge for the championship.
The Huskies are favored in early odds (-2.0 and -135 according to Caesars), and we believe this regional final matchup will be hotly contested. We think the Zags aren’t ready to be finished, especially hipster Drew Timme, a three-time WCC Player of the Year, and an All-American. He looks like a slow, lumbering, well…lumberjack, but Timme has sneaky-wuick offensive moves, and as Steely Dan once sang, he’s “a fool to do the dirty work” around the rim.
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