Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:05 PM
Final Four Consensus Picks
The 2018 NCAA tournament seems wide-open in spite of two-loss Virginia sitting as the top overall seed. Alongside the Cavaliers, Villanova, Kansas, and Xavier are the other number one seeds looking to reach the Final Four in San Antonio on March 31.
Last season, a pair of top seeds made it all the way to the National Championship as North Carolina knocked off Gonzaga. Both squads aren’t number one seeds this season, but both are expected to make another deep run in the tournament. The other two Final Four clubs didn’t even qualify for the Big Dance this season as Oregon and South Carolina fell short of the NCAA tournament.
We polled our college basketball experts to provide their Final Four selections, champion, and sleeper (a team owning a seed of 4 or lower to advance at least two rounds). The West had the most disagreement among our handicappers with Gonzaga, North Carolina, Michigan, and Xavier all receiving Final Four consideration.
However, it was a little more clear-cut in the other three regions as Villanova (East), Virginia (South), Arizona (South), and Duke (Midwest) are expected to make deep runs.
VegasInsider.com handicapper Joe Nelson believes this is the year Duke bounces back with its terrific talent, “Depth and experience are shortcomings for the Blue Devils, but those factors are often overvalued in a do-or-die tournament setting. The size on the squad is unparalleled and this is an excellent shooting and rebounding team that has a star in the frontcourt and in the backcourt. Duke had a few puzzling losses on the season with some injuries and a transition with a freshman-heavy squad, but like last season’s champion North Carolina, the Blue Devils have improved dramatically defensively down the stretch.”
“Outside of the grouping with the Spartans, Duke’s placement in the Midwest regional should offer some promise. Kansas is a highly vulnerable #1 seed despite taking both the regular season and Big XII titles as Duke would be favored in that potential Elite 8 matchup, even in Omaha. 7/10 teams are often dangerous, but a limited Rhode Island squad that had a taxing schedule last week is facing an Oklahoma team that slumped down the stretch as a Duke exit in the opening week would be shocking. Clemson and Auburn are also teams that lost key players and did perform at a high level down the stretch as Duke has a reasonable path in this region even if they will face further travel than usual for the opening games.”
Expert Matt Fargo believes the defending champion Tar Heels can make another run towards San Antono, “The Tar Heels have 10 losses but they have played the toughest schedule in the nation according to the RPI and the West is not overly strong with Xavier, Michigan and Gonzaga being the other teams in the top four. North Carolina is better than all three of those teams and it would not be surprising to see one or even two of those teams get bumped before the Sweet 16.”
Handicapper Marc Lawrence has faith in Michigan State to cut down the nets, “Spartans the only team in the country to rank in the Top 5 in Offensive Field Goal Percentage, Defensive Field Goal Percentage, Rebound Margin, 3-Point Offensive Field Goal Percentage, and Blocked Shots. In addition, Tom Izzo is 22-8 SU and 19-10-1 ATS in NCAA tourney games in which his team enters the event off a season-ending straight-up loss.”
Here are the Final Four picks from our handicappers:
|Final Four and Championship Predictions|