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Handicapping 2014 March Madness Elite 8 Predictions & Odds

Gambling NCAA March Madness Futures

We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty of the NCAA basketball tournament, this weekend’s games will determine who will play in the coveted Final Four in The House that Jerry Built (Cowboys Stadium, Arlington TX) on April 5.[ad-4468020]

The following are the odds for the remaining teams in the tourney and some predictions for who should emerge when the dust clears. With

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Florida Gators

Next opponent: #11-seed Dayton Flyers
Last game: 79-68 W over #4-seed UCLA

The top-seeded Gators are positioned better than any other team in the country to bring home the championship. Dayton has been a lovely story and a media darling, but Florida still has the easiest Elite Eight match-up.

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Assuming UF makes the Final Four, the Gators would play either #4-seed Michigan State or late-charging #7 Connecticut; the boys from Gainesville have to like their chances in that game, also.

I see Billy Donovan’s team making it to the title game, and in that situation their style of play is well-suited to bringing home a national crown.

Wisconsin Badgers

Next opponent: #1-seed Arizona Wildcats
Previous game: 69-52 win over #6-seed Baylor

I have liked the two-seed Badgers from the outset. There’s just something about their strong shooting, work ethic and commitment to team defense that translates well in the tourney.

The Badgers are one of three Big Ten teams left in the Dance (Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan) and the play of Ben Brust, Frank Kaminsky and Traevon Jackson are doing the Midwest proud. Wisconsin had a convincing win over a good Baylor team in the Sweet 16, and I personally see Arizona as a little overrated.

I believe the Badgers can win that game and then would potentially face a hobbled Kentucky team (big man Willie Cauley-Stein is injured) or the conference rival Michigan Wolverines in the Final Four.

If the Badgers keep doing what they’re doing, we may just see them in the National Championship game.

Michigan State Spartans

Next opponent: #7-seed Connecticut Huskies
Previous game: 61-59 win over #1-seed Virginia

It just seems like legendary State head coach Tom Izzo and his Spartans are always, always, always around in the latter rounds of the Tournament. Michigan State have the additional ego boost in knowing it knocked off the top-seed Virginia Cavaliers in its last match-up.
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The Spartans are virtually always in the Sweet 16 or better; they were the 2009 runner-up and had Final Four appearances in 2005 and 2010. What’s even more impressive is that this Spartans team has suffered injuries to virtually every major position over the course of the season, and Izzo has found a way to make it work.

I like MSU’s chances against a UConn team that relies too heavily on one player (guard Shabazz Napier) and is playing a little over its head. Beyond that, a likely date with Florida looms, but the Spartans are just so plucky that you’d be wise to not count them out of any game.

Winning in the NCAA Tournament is just what the Spartans do.

Michigan Wolverines

Next opponent: #7-seed Kentucky Wildcats
Previous game: 73-71 win over #11-seed Tennessee

The Wolverines have really evolved into an excellent hoops program over the last few years. Michigan has some veteran leadership in the form of Canadian shooting marksman Nick Stauskas and blue-collar Mitch McGary.

It’s true that Michigan only just squeaked by the Tennessee Volunteers in its last game, but UT was playing some great hoops and I think Michigan brings a similar style of play to Wisconsin, where it can use accurate shooting and team energy to wear down an opponent.

It’s almost certain that Kentucky has more athleticism and perhaps talent than Michigan, but the Wolverines are led by seasoned upperclassmen while the Wildcats are not only young, but hobbled. With an injury to center Cauley-Stein, UK loses its dominant post presence.

I think Michigan could capitalize on that, setting up a potentially compelling all-Big Ten Final Four tilt with the Badgers. I don’t have quite as much faith in Michigan as I do with Florida or Wisconsin, but I still think they are a strong team that deserves to be where they are – and could make noise moving forward.

Odds To Win March Madness for the Teams Remaining in the 2014 NCAA Tournament:

  • Florida 7/2
  • Michigan State 9/2
  • Arizona 6/1
  • Kentucky 20/1
  • Michigan 16/1
  • Connecticut 33/1
  • Wisconsin 16/1
  • Dayton 100/1

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