A new-look Final Four
For the first time in NCAA Tournament history, no one, two or three seeds reached the Final Four.
This year’s unprecedented bracket has had it all, from No. 1 Purdue losing to the shortest team in America, No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson, 5-foot-8 point guard Markquis Nowell playing larger than life, to now four mostly unheralded programs being two wins away from a national championship.
three of them had never reached the Final Four until now
On top of the four remaining schools – Connecticut, Miami, San Diego State, and Florida Atlantic – busting brackets, three of them had never reached the Final Four until now. Just another edition of the “Madness” of March.
Runs to the Final Four
West and Midwest Regions
Each team left standing has had a remarkable run to the Final Four, and all as underdogs. The schools’ average combined odds to win the national title on the day the bracket started was +8700 with the longest odds belong to FAU at +20500, according to DraftKings sportsbook.
opened the tournament at +1683 (now -125) to win it all
The team with the greatest expectations is UConn. It opened the tournament at +1683 (now -125) to win it all.
The Huskies kickstarted their tournament run with an 87-63 win over No. 14 Iona in the Round of 64 and a 70-55 beatdown of No. 5 Saint Mary’s two days later. It breezed past No. 8 Arkansas 88-65 in the Sweet 16, leading to its most impressive win of March Madness, an 82-54 demolition of No. 3 Gonzaga.
The other team on UConn’s side of the bracket is Miami (formerly +7667, now +475 to win the title). Ironically, their toughest battle came in the opening round against No. 12 Drake, requiring a late spurt to get past, 63-56. The Hurricanes then used an offensive masterclass to race by No. 4 Indiana 85-69 and also took out No. 1 seed and tournament favorites Houston in the Sweet 16 89-75.
The Hurricanes win that propelled them into their first Final Four in school history was a back-and-forth 88-81 result over No. 2 Texas. Senior wing Jordan Miller put up 27 points with a perfect 7-7 shooting from the field and 13-13 at the free-throw line.
South and East Regions
The left-hand side of the bracket is where the madness picks up. No. 5 San Diego State, often hidden from the national spotlight in the Mountain West Conference, has emerged as the champion of a South region that included Alabama, Arizona, and other excellent programs.
The Aztecs (once +4950, now +380) began their run to the Final Four by beating No. 12 College of Charleston 63-57. They easily handled No. 13 Furman 75-52 in the next round and then knocked off No. 1 Alabama 71-64 in the Sweet 16 behind an excellent defensive performance.
SDSU’s most recent win over No. 6 Creighton was also its most dramatic. Darrion Trammell went to the free-throw line in a tie game with one second left and, after missing his first attempt, calmly put the second one through the net and booked his team a spot in the Final Four.
down to +650 to win the national championship after starting at +20500
SDSU will now play No. 9 Florida Atlantic, who is still the biggest underdog in the field, but is down to +650 to win the national championship after starting at +20500. The Owls, who hail from a traditionally poor Conference USA, tied for the second-best regular season record in the country.
FAU, like Miami, received its toughest test in the first round when it needed a Nicholas Boyd layup with two seconds left to squeak past No. 8 Memphis 66-65. It then beat No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson 78-70 and No. 4 Tennessee 62-55 to reach the Elite Eight and set up a date with the red-hot Kansas State Wildcats.
Despite the best efforts of the previously mentioned Nowell, the Owls secured yet another win 79-76 and are a win against SDSU away from reaching the title game.
Odds and trends
According to ESPN, only 37 brackets filled out on its Bracket Challenge correctly predicted the Final Four.
The right-hand side of the bracket is more likely to win the national title, per to the odds. UConn will be favored against SDSU or FAU, barring any major developments and if it gets past Miami, whereas a line for a matchup between Miami and either of the other schools is unknown.
UConn has a 55.56% chance to emerge as the champion of March Madness
Based on implied probability, UConn has a 55.56% chance to emerge as the champion of March Madness. SDSU has a 20.83% chance, Miami a 17.39% chance, and FAU a 13.33% chance.
Miami reached the Elite Eight last year before it lost to No. 1 Kansas 76-50. UConn was upset by No. 12 New Mexico State University in the opening round of the same year, but is the only scholl remaining that has been to a Final Four. It also won the NCAA Tournament as recently as 2014, which coincidentally was the last time a non-one or two seed won it all.
SDSU lost to its first-round opponent in three straight appearances before this year, and FAU, which had only made the NCAA Tournament once before, hadn’t won a game until 2023.
Games resume in Houston, Texas on Saturday, April 1. The national championship will be held on Monday, April 3.
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