Why are the Top Online Sportsbooks so busy right now? Simple, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is finally here. Well, almost. We have to get through a few play-in games first. Tuesday, Florida Gulf Coast will play Fairleigh Dickinson where the winner will get the 16th seed in the East and get to be humiliated by North Carolina in the first round. That game is followed by Vanderbilt against Wichita State, where the winner gets the 11th seed in the South and gets to play against 6th seeded Arizona. Wednesday, Holy Cross will play Southern in a battle of 16 seeds, where the winner will have to play #1 seeded Oregon in the West.Then Michigan will play Tulsa where the winner will earn the 11 seed in the East and play 6th ranked Notre Dame. Kansas will enter the tournament as the overall number one seed, but Michigan State is thought to be the favorite to win by many, despite not getting a 1 seed (they are ranked 2nd in the Midwest thanks to UVA's one seed). Kansas is favored at 9-2 to win the tournament, followed by Michigan State and North Carolina both at 5-1.
Number 1 seeds are 124-0 against 16th seeded teams lifetime, but this season we saw no real dominant team emerge, and top 5 seeds were getting knocked off constantly, so perhaps this is the year where a 16 seed gets to the 2nd round, or beyond. Let's face it, it will happen eventually, why not this year? Though it is worth noting it has been 20 years since a 16 seed has even come within one possession of winning a game, when Western Carolina lost to Purdue.
While this tournament is sure to have a few more early bracket-busters than usual, keep in mind that before UConn won in 2014 as the the 7th seed, before that the team that won who was worse than a 3 seed was Arizona in 1997 as a 4 seed. My money will be on North Carolina this year. It will be tough if they have to go through MSU and Kansas, but I think they can do it. Let the MADNESS begin!