The North Carolina Tar Heels will enter the NCAA tournament Final Four as the March madness favorites to win the men’s basketball national championship.
North Carolina +135
Unlike the other three teams in the Final 4, the Tar Heels are March madness royalty. UNC has appeared in the NCAA Tournament Championship Game 10 times – winning it five times –, and has been in a record 20 Final Fours. Fans who bet on March madness will no doubt remember that North Carolina was last year’s runner-up to the Villanova Wildcats. Speaking of whom, everybody knows how Nova failed to become the first back-to-back champion since Florida in 2006-07. However, few may know that it’s been even longer since the runner-up went on to win the championship the following season; that would be Duke, which lost to UNLV in 1990 and then beat Kansas in the 1991 championship game.
Regardless of what transpires next, the Bulldogs have officially had the most successful season in the history of the program. Head coach has led the Zags to the NCAA Tournament in every season during his tenure as head coach, as well as eight Sweet 16s and three Elite 8s, but up until now the Final 4 had been the white whale to his Captain Ahab. Now he can finally say, “towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale.” Interestingly, Gonzaga is the march madness betting favourite against South Carolina, but according to CBS affiliate KREM 2 more fans who bet on march madness are putting their money on the underdog.
South Carolina +855
Speaking of which, the Gamecocks will also be making their first appearance in the Final 4. SC had previously made it to the Sweet 16 three times in a row, but the last of those was in 1973. But while Gonzaga did it as favorite of people who bet on March madness, the G-Cocks were only favoured – and only slightly at that – in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Marquette; from there they went to upset Duke, Baylor, and Florida. It seems to be nothing short of a miracle, but South Carolina does have Gamecock Jesus (and Hootie) rooting for them.
The Ducks may not be the most successful program in history, but at least they were the first successful team. They’re just like North Carolina except without all of the intervening accomplishments. Oregon University won the first NCAA basketball national championship tournament in 1939. Then they failed to appear in the tourney until 1945 – and that absence had nothing to do with there being a war going on. Ever since the Ducks have reached many a Sweet 16 and Elite 8 but never that elusive second Final 4. Until now, that is. And it’s been so long that it feels like the first time around all over again. And to top it all off, the Ducks upset then-march madness betting favorite Kansas in the Elite 8. Can they do the same to the Tar Heels? Improbable but not impossible.