March Madness 2014 Bracket: Full Predictions and Tournament Odds

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2014

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 13:  Andrew Wiggins #22, Naadir Tharpe #10, Wayne Selden, Jr. #1, Jamari Traylor #31, and Perry Ellis #34 of the Kansas Jayhawks walk toward the bench during a timeout in the Big 12 Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Sprint Center on March 13, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Finally.

Finally, we have the bracket. Finally, the NCAA tournament is just days away. Finally, we can obsess over our brackets—fill them out in pencil, OK?—overanalyze matchups and obsess over every little stat we can get our hands on.

Finally.

For the sports fan, it's arguably the best time of the year. Work efficiency around the nation will literally decrease over the next several weeks, at least when the basketball games are on. I'm just as wrapped up in the madness as you, so below I've shared my entire bracket, tournament odds and much, much more.

The tournament is finally here. Finally.

 

All Your Bracket Essentials

Bleacher Report

 

Odds

March Madness Odds
TeamOdds
Florida4/1
Michigan State9/2
Arizona6/1
Kansas8/1
Wichita State15/1
Virginia15/1
Duke15/1
Syracuse15/1
Louisville15/1
Wisconsin20/1
Michigan25/1
Villanova25/1
Creighton25/1
Iowa State35/1
UCLA35/1
Kentucky40/1
North Carolina50/1
Ohio State60/1
Oklahoma State60/1
San Diego State75/1
VCU75/1
Saint Loius100/1
Baylor100/1
Cincinnati100/1
Oklahoma100/1
Connecticut100/1
Oregon100/1
New Mexico100/1
Texas100/1
Gonzaga100/1
Memphis100/1
Pittsburgh100/1
Iowa100/1
Tennessee100/1
Massachusetts200/1
Stanford200/1
Providence200/1
Kansas State300/1
Saint Joseph's300/1
Arizona State300/1
Xavier500/1
Colorado500/1
George Washington500/1
BYU500/1
Nebraska500/1
Dayton500/1
North Carolina State1,000/1
Harvard1,000/1
North Dakota State1,000/1
Field
Sporting News

 

Play-in Games

Albany over Mount St. Mary's

Texas Southern over Cal Poly

Tennessee over Iowa

Xavier over NC State

 

East Region Predictions

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 16:   Gary Harris #14 and Adreian Payne #5 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates after the 69-55 win over the Michigan Wolverines  during the finals of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 16,
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Round of 64

No. 1 Virginia over No. 16 Coastal Carolina

No. 8 Memphis over No. 9 George Washington

No. 5 Cincinnati over No. 12 Harvard

No. 4 Michigan State over No. 13 Delaware

No. 6 North Carolina over No. 11 Providence

No. 3 Iowa State over No. 14 North Carolina Central

No. 10 St. Joe's over No. 7 UConn

No. 2 Villanova over No. 15 Milwaukee

 

Round of 32

No. 1 Virginia over No. 8 Memphis

No. 4 Michigan State over No. 5 Cincy

No. 3 Iowa State over No. 6 North Carolina

No. 2 Villanova over No. 10 St. Joe's

 

Sweet 16

No. 4 Michigan State over No. 1 Virginia

No. 3 Iowa State over No. 2 Villanova 

 

Elite Eight

No. 4 Michigan State over No. 3 Iowa State

 

Notes

I could see as many as six teams (Virginia, Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State, North Carolina and Shabazz Napier... er, UConn) coming out of the East region. Virginia has been handed a pretty brutal draw, however, and I don't see them getting by Michigan State. The bottom of the bracket is really intriguing as well, and it wouldn't shock me if Villanova, Iowa State, North Carolina or even St. Joe's advanced to the Elite Eight.

I like Iowa State, but I could see the bottom of the East Region getting messy. 

As for Michigan State advancing to the Final Four, well, I'm hardly alone in that prediction. From SportsCenter on Twitter:

So, obviously, the Spartans will bow out in the Round of 32 or something. Or they'll live up to the hype because they're finally healthy and red hot. I'm sticking with the latter.

 

South Region Predictions

Mar 16, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Florida Gators forward Will Yeguete (15) center Patric Young (4) and forward Casey Prather (24) react as time expires and their team defeat the Kentucky Wildcats in the championship game for the SEC college basketball tourn
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Round of 64

No. 1 Florida over No. 16 Albany

No. 9 Pittsburgh over No. 8 Colorado

No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 5 VCU

No. 4 UCLA over No. 13 Tulsa

No. 11 Dayton over No. 6 Ohio State

No. 3 Syracuse over No. 14 Western Michigan 

No. 7 New Mexico over No. 10 Stanford

No. 2 Kansas over No. 15 Eastern Kentucky

 

Round of 32

No. 1 Florida over No. 9 Pittsburgh

No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 4 UCLA

No. 3 Syracuse over No. 11 Dayton

No. 2 Kansas over No. 7 New Mexico

 

Sweet 16

No. 1 Florida over No. 12 Stephen F. Austin

No. 2 Kansas over No. 3 Syracuse

 

Elite Eight

No. 1 Florida over No. 2 Kansas

 

Notes

It was only after I filled out my bracket that I realized I have just one team seeded in the double-digits reaching the Sweet 16, and its No. 12 Stephen F. Austin. That will bring them to 30 straight wins on the season, though predicting them to get past VCU and UCLA is risky. Still, VCU's nonconference losses to Florida State, Georgetown and Northern Iowa worry me, while UCLA is just inconsistent enough to be troubling.

I love Florida's experience, defensive proficiency and overall efficiency on both ends of the floor, and I think this region is open to them like the Red Sea until the Elite Eight, when a meeting with Kansas likely beckons. That's when the unknown kicks in.

I think Kansas is talented enough to reach the Elite Eight without Joel Embiid, or even with an Embiid rounding back into form, but they won't beat Florida unless the talented center is 100 percent healthy and back in the groove of things.

For now, all we know is that Embiid likely won't return to action until next week. From Adam Zagoria of NBA.com:

With Embiid back in the fold and Andrew Wiggins really blossoming later in the season, Kansas has the raw talent to win this entire tournament. But I don't think they get past an experienced, cohesive Florida team.

 

Midwest Region Predictions

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 15: Russ Smith #2 and Chris Jones #3 of the Louisville Cardinals walk towards the bench against the Connecticut Huskies during the Championship of the American Athletic Conference Tournament at FedExForum on March 15, 2014 in Memphis,
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Round of 64

No. 1 Wichita State over No. 16 Texas Southern

No. 8 Kentucky over No. 9 Kansas State

No. 12 Xavier over No. 5 Saint Louis

No. 4 Louisville over No. 13 Manhattan

No. 11 Tennessee over No. 6 UMass

No. 3 Duke over No. 14 Mercer

No. 7 Texas over No. 10 Arizona State

No. 2 Michigan over No. 15 Wofford

 

Round of 32

No. 8 Kentucky over No. 1 Wichita State

No. 4 Louisville over No. 12 Xavier

No. 3 Duke over No. 11 Tennessee

No. 2 Michigan over No. 7 Texas

 

Sweet 16

No. 4 Louisville over No. 8 Kentucky

No. 2 Michigan over No. 3 Duke

 

Elite Eight

No. 4 Louisville over No. 2 Michigan

 

Notes

This is probably the most stacked region ever. Seriously, ever. Five teams (Wichita State, Michigan, Duke, Louisville, Kentucky) could not only win this region, they could also win a national championship. You may think Kentucky is the outlier here, but they had a great SEC tournament and are loaded with talent. If they continue to play together as a team, look out. 

If nothing else, I think they'll knock Wichita State out of the tournament.

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 16:  Aaron Harrison #2 and Andrew Harrison #5 of the Kentucky Wildcats react in the first half against the Florida Gators during the Championship game of the 2014 Men's SEC Basketball Tournament at Georgia Dome on March 16, 2014 in Atl
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Louisville come into this tournament having won 16 of 18 and topping the American Athletic Conference tournament. In that streak, they've knocked off UConn (thrice), SMU (twice) and Cincinnati. How they are a No. 4 seed is incomprehensible. I'd be shocked if they didn't reach the Elite Eight. 

The bottom of the bracket seems destined for a Michigan-versus-Duke showdown, with two of the most exciting teams in college basketball matching wits. I like the Wolverines by the narrowest of margins, though it would hardly be shocking if Jabari Parker stole that one.

But nobody is getting by Louisville in this bracket.

 

West Region Predictions

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 15:  Gabe York #1 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts as teammates Jordin Mayes #20 and Elliott Pitts #24 look on during a timeout in the championship game of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament against the UCLA Bruins at the MGM Grand Garde
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Round of 64

No. 1 Arizona over No. 16 Weber State

No. 9 Oklahoma State over No. 8 Gonzaga

No. 5 Oklahoma over No. 12 North Dakota State

No. 4 San Diego State over No. 13 New Mexico State

No. 6 Baylor over No. 11 Nebraska

No. 3 Creighton over No. 14 Louisiana-Lafayette 

No. 7 Oregon over No. 10 BYU

No. 2 Wisconsin over No. 15 American

 

Round of 32

No. 1 Arizona over No. 9 Oklahoma State

No. 4 San Diego State over No. 5 Oklahoma

No. 3 Creighton over No. 6 Baylor

No. 2 Wisconsin over No. 7 Oregon

 

Sweet 16

No. 1 Arizona over No. 4 San Diego State

No. 2 Wisconsin over No. 3 Creighton

 

Elite Eight

No. 1 Arizona over No. 2 Wisconsin

 

Notes

There are eight teams—Michigan State, Louisville, Florida, Michigan, Duke, Kansas, Virginia and Arizona—that I legitimately think could win the national championship this year. With Arizona being the only representative from the West, predicting them to reach the Final Four wasn't terribly difficult.

Also, the fact that they rank as the No. 1 team in kenpom.com's rankings certainly helps. While I tend to lean toward teams that are top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency when deciding a national champion—only Louisville and Wichita State fit that bill, and Wichita State's strength of schedule has me steering clear of them—Arizona has the nation's most efficient defense.

That will take them into the Final Four.

 

Final Four and Title-Game Predictions

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 08:  Stephan Van Treese #44 , Tim Henderson #15, Russ Smith #2, Rick Pitino and Luke Hancock #11 of the Louisville Cardinals after the game against the Connecticut Huskies at KFC YUM! Center on March 8, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

No. 4 Michigan State over No. 1 Florida

No. 4 Louisville over No. 1. Arizona

No. 4 Louisville over No. 4 Michigan State 

 

Notes

So why Louisville?

Well, they pretty much check off all of my stipulations for picking a national champion.

  • They come into this tournament red hot, having won 16 of 18.
  • They have tournament experience, having won the entire thing a year ago, and have generally played well in March under Rick Pitino.
  • They are efficient on both ends of the floor—according to kenpom.com, they are 10th in offensive efficiency and sixth in defensive efficiency—and national champions are always extremely efficient.
  • They have a player in Russ Smith who can carry them on his back throughout the tournament. He's averaging 18.3 points per game this season and put a whopping 42 points on Houston in the conference tournament.

I think Michigan State is probably the most talented team in the Final Four now that the Spartans are healthy, but Louisville checks off more boxes for me. So I'm sticking with the repeat this season.