Kansas Favored to be First Top Seed Eliminated from NCAA Tournament
Kansas has the longest active streak of reaching the NCAA Tournament at 24 straight years, but it's KU that is the even-money favorite to be the first No. 1 seed eliminated in the Big Dance. The Jayhawks, the Big 12 regular-season and tournament champions, probably were the last team to get a No. 1 seed, likely the choice over Miami, the ACC regular-season and conference tournament winner. It's the ninth-straight year KU has won the Big 12 title.
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So why is Kansas the Bovada favorite to be the first top seed to go? The South Region's No. 1 does get to play their first two games in Kansas City but faces a potentially huge and dangerous matchup against No. 8 North Carolina and former KU coach Roy Williams in the Round of 32. After that, either No. 4 Michigan or No. 5 VCU could be waiting. The player to watch on Kansas isn't superstar freshman Ben McLemore or All-American center Jeff Withey. It's point guard Elijah Johnson. In his team's five losses this year, Johnson is just 18-for-65 from the field (.276) with 17 combined turnovers. Kansas is -250 to make the Sweet 16 and +170 to lose before. It is 11/1 to win it all, tied for the fifth-best odds.
Gonzaga, the No. 1 team in the polls and the No. 1 in the West, is +150 to be the first top seed out. The Zags have lost in the Round of 32 each of the past three seasons, but this is clearly coach Mark Few's best team in Spokane. Gonzaga enters on a 14-game winning streak, but that was against rather weak competition in the West Coast Conference. The Bulldogs would face either Pittsburgh - with gifted 7-foot center Steven Adams - or Wichita State in the Round of 32, presuming Gonzaga beats No. 16 Southern in their opener. The Zags are -220 to make the Sweet 16.
Midwest No. 1 Louisville is +400 and East No. 1 Indiana is +500 to be the first top seed to lose. The Cardinals play in by far the toughest region but also will have their first two games not far from campus in Lexington. Missouri's pressure defense could cause problems in the Round of 32 if the Tigers can beat Colorado State in the second round. Any team beating Louisville early probably needs to get Cards center and Big East Defensive Player of the Year Gorgui Dieng in foul trouble. He has committed four or more fouls in five games this season and U of L lost two of those. Louisville is -500 to reach the Sweet 16.
Indiana, President Obama's choice to win it all, is playing the shakiest of the No. 1 seeds in losing three of their final six games. Teams may want to copy Wisconsin's slow-down style as the Badgers beat IU twice this season. Indiana could see a very talented, but underachieving NC State team in the Round of 32. The Hoosiers are -500 to reach the Sweet 16.
That a No. 1 seed will win the NCAA Tournament is +110 with no at -150. A top seed has cut down the nets nine times this century, including five of the past six years. There are three over/unders for the amount of No. 1 seeds in the Final Four, but the main one is 1.5, with under the -150 favorite. The Final Four hasn't had multiple No. 1 seeds since 2009, and in 2011 none made it. In 2008, all four made it for the first time since the field expanded to 64.
The aggregate sum of the seeds in the Final Four in Atlanta is over/under 10.5, with over a -160 favorite. Here are the totals for the past five years: 9, 26 (No. 8 Butler and No. 11 VCU skewed that one), 13, 7 and 4 respectively. A No. 11 seed is the lowest to reach the Final Four, accomplished three times.
No. 2 seeds haven't had much luck lately in winning the NCAA Tournament. Only UConn in 2004 has done it this century. That a No. 2 wins it this year (Duke, Ohio State, Miami, Georgetown) is +300 with no at -500. Duke and Miami are the highest second seeds to win it all at 11/1.
A No. 3 seed has won the tournament three times since 2000, the last being Connecticut two years ago. That a No. 3 (Michigan State, New Mexico, Florida, Marquette) takes the title is +350 with no at -600. Florida, at 7/1, is the third-favorite to win the tournament behind Louisville and Indiana. The Gators are also 8/5 favorites over Kansas (3/1) to win the South Region. It's the only region where a No. 1 isn't favored, although No. 2 Ohio State (11/4) is close to overtaking Gonzaga (12/5) in the West Region.
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