2014 NCAA Tournament South Region
We'll look at each of the four brackets individually and hopefully come up with a winner that might help you as you fill out your brackets.
The Florida Gators are the No. 1 seed in the region and while the NCAA selection committee has been widely criticized for some of their decisions, this isn't one of the them. The Gators are playing as well as anybody in the country right now and will be tough to beat, although there are several teams capable of pulling an upset, namely Kansas and Syracuse.
Florida is a slight favorite to win the bracket, as the Gators are -120 to make it to the Final Four, while Kansas is second at +375. Syracuse is next at +750, which is almost what the Orangemen were to win it all last month. UCLA is +850, VCU is +1500 and Pittsburgh and New Mexico are both +2500.
Stanford is +7500, while Colorado is +8500 and Dayton is +10000.
Among the extreme longshots are Stephen F. Austin at +17500, Tulsa at +30000 and surprisingly, Albany comes next at +50000. Eastern Kentucky and Western Michigan are both +100000.
First Round Upsets
The two games that look to have the best chance of a first round upset are No.
9 Pittsburgh over Colorado and No. 10 Stanford over New Mexico. Pittsburgh is a 6.5-point favorite over Colorado, so it's a bit of a no-brainer, while New Mexico is favored by three points over Stanford. Dayton has a shot against Ohio State depending on which Buckeye team shows up, but even with a win, Ohio State could have trouble with the Syracuse zone in round two. Ohio State is favored by 6.5 points, while Syracuse is a 13-point choice over Western Michigan in the opening round.
The other games see Florida favored by 21 over Albany, Kansas is favored by 14 over Eastern Kentucky, VCU is 6.5 over Stephen F. Austin and UCLA is 8.5 over Tulsa.
You have to expect at least one or two of the No. 1 seeds to make the Final Four and the South is probably the likeliest candidate, as Florida has a relatively easy draw, which is more than a team like Wichita State can say. Kansas is really the primary threat, as the Jayhawks match-up well with Syracuse and should be in the finals against the Gators.
Kansas should be at full strength at that time and can make a game of it, but in the end, the Gators should have too much defense and it's easy to picture them advancing. The odds aren't the greatest on the Gators, although that also speaks to the relative weakness of the region in addition to Florida's strength. You never really like to wager more money than you stand to win when making a futures bet, but that looks like the way to go in this spot.
As always, be sure to shop for the best odds before placing your bet, as the odds will vary between different sportsbooks more for futures wagers than they will for a traditional bet on a game.