NCAA Sweet 16 Bracketology

by Sean Murphy

We've reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament with some expected names but also a number of 'Cinderellas' rounding out the remaining field.

Here's a look at where you can still find value in the futures market, with three upset-minded teams that aren't ready to put away their dancing shoes just yet.

To reach Final Four

Oregon (+650)


The Ducks were actually my pre-tournament pick to come out of the West Region and I still like their chances even with arguably the best team in the country, Gonzaga, residing in that region as well. Just to play Devil's Advocate when it comes to the top-ranked Bulldogs, let's say Creighton gets hot from beyond the arc (as it is known to do) and stages the improbable but possible Sweet 16 upset. That would leave the Ducks with only a talented but inconsistent Blue Jays squad standing between them and a Final Four appearance - assuming Oregon can get past Pac-12 rival USC of course. The oddsmakers have certainly done their homework and Oregon is accurately priced to reach the Final Four, but I'm higher than most on the Ducks and feel now might be a favorable time to take a shot for a potential big return.

Villanova (+550)

The Wildcats are another team that I had pegged to reach the Final Four (even if I thought they would get a much tougher game from Winthrop in the opening round - oops) prior to the tournament tipping off last week. I've never been one to underestimate Jay Wright's 'Nova squads and even without Colin Gillespie we've seen the Wildcats cruise through two rounds, setting up a favorable Sweet 16 showdown with one-seed Baylor. The Bears have of course rounded back into form following a poor showing in the Big 12 Tournament. However, if one of the three top seeds remaining are going to make an unceremonious exit prior to the Elite Eight they might just be the team. Should the Wildcats upset Baylor on Saturday they would likely match up against a beatable Arkansas squad in the Elite Eight (unless Oral Roberts decides the slipper still fits). Either way, I see value with 'Nova at a healthy return to find its way into the Final Four, noting it is currently priced at around +240 to beat Baylor.

Florida State (+300)

Full disclosure, I had Alabama (currently priced at +180) coming out of the East Region prior to the tournament, which is still well within the realm of possibility. However, based on what I've seen so far in this tourney, I'd be willing to take a shot with the Seminoles priced at +300 or better. Michigan needed everything it had in the tank to get past LSU in the Round of 32 and draws an even tougher matchup against fourth-seeded Florida State in the Sweet 16. After scoring 80+ points without Isaiah Livers in their first two tournament games, I believe the Wolverines could be ripe for the upset against the 'Noles - who can hang with UM at both ends of the floor. Of course, it would by no means be a true shocker as Florida State is just a slight 2.5-point underdog at the time of writing. Alabama should get past UCLA, which would set up a reasonable matchup for the 'Noles in the Elite Eight, noting that LSU laid out a pretty good blueprint for beating the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game, even if the Tigers ultimately fell a point short. 

*Note that Sean's individual game selections are independent of the recommendations on futures bets above. 

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