We are down to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament and it has been a wild ride, as per usual. The question at the moment is will the chaos continue or will the higher seeds finally take over?
Our mission at the moment is to look into the four Regional Finals and try and determine what underdogs could possibly win outright or at the very least cover the spread against the college basketball odds versus their favored opponent. Our methodology will include one writer/handicapper’s opinion and those of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight win probability model. We will provide underdogs in the order the games will be played, starting with the first one Saturday.
Loyola-Chicago – FiveThirtyEight, Ramblers 34% chance of winning
Loyola’s matchup with Kansas State in the nearly impossible South region assures us of one very high seed will advance. The Ramblers win probability seems low given they are only a one-point dog, but the difference in the Big 12 vs. the Missouri Valley no doubt plays a part. Nevertheless, I like Loyola’s chance of winning this game outright since they are as good defensively as K-State and are less prone to scoring droughts which can bury an underdog like we saw with West Virginia on Friday night.
Loyola-Chicago – 65% chance to cover
Kansas – FiveThirtyEight, Jayhawks 46% chance of winning
We have been waiting for a marquee matchup and we have one in the Midwest Regional. Kansas is the top seed but is a 3.5-point underdog to No. 2 Duke. Though they did not play like it early in the season, the Blue Devils are the most talented team in the country and figured out how to play together after back-to-back losses to St. John’s and North Carolina in early February. Kansas is playing their best basketball of the season at exactly the right time and though the sample size is quite small, the Jayhawks are 3-1 SU and ATS as underdogs this season. Catching the half-point could prove invaluable.
Kansas – 55% chance to cover