The field has narrowed considerably now for the 2016 edition of March Madness. We’ve gone from a field of 64 plus down to the Elite Eight of college basketball. While there were some historic upsets and miraculous finishes early on, we’re now in a position where the cream has definitely risen to the top. The time for Cinderella stories is over, and the road to the National Championship only gets tougher from here. You may not have anything close to a good bracket left in your office pool, but there’s still plenty of time to get a good line from the sports book and make up for it with tonight’s action. All four one seeds are still in the hunt right now, justifying why they earned those spots when the brackets were made, but are any of them vulnerable now on the road to the Final Four? The Kansas vs. Villanova line says yes, with the #1 seed Jayhawks a narrow -135 favorite, and the Wildcats right in the mix at +115. In previous previews we’ve discussed the fact that Kansas has had off nights this year to the likes of Michigan State, West Virginia and Iowa State – and as a #2 seed the Wildcats are definitely as capable of any of those upsets if not vastly more so. They are playing like a team with something to prove even though winning the Big East outright and over 30 games so far this season already proves it. Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins don’t even have to be extraordinary to knock off the #1 seed – they just need to play to their already established level of talent. I’d bet this dog. The West region also has a #1 seed playing a #2 seed, but I’m not buying Oregon as a favorite at -135. I realize that’s not a heavy line, but still even a narrow line that puts #1 Oklahoma as the dog at +115 seems wrong to me. There is no player in the entire tournament like Buddy Hield, who is surely destined for an eight figure NBA contract whether his squad wins a National Championship or not. He has that Michael Jordan-esque ability to score from anywhere, drop 20 or more points in a half, and carry an entire team on his back. Unless (God forbid) he breaks a leg I don’t think the Ducks can do it. Dillon Brooks is damn good, but he’s no Hield. The heavy action comes in Sunday night’s games. #1 UNC is the biggest favorite here at -600 against Notre Dame at +450. Sadly for the Fighting Irish, I have to agree with the oddsmakers here. I don’t expect all four #1 seeds to advance but the Tar Heels shouldn’t have much trouble with this one. The only thing close to a Cinderella story left is the Syracuse Orangemen playing Virginia, who just throttled a normally explosive Iowa State en route to the Elite 8, and that stifling defense should lift the -370 #1 seed over their +310 opponent. Malcolm Brogdon is another one of those “carry his team” type players – I can’t rate him better than Hield but he makes Virginia an incredibly dominant team. Remember to only wager what you can afford and enjoy the Elite 8!
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