2018 March Madness Futures & Sweet 16 Rankings

gilgeous-alexanderThe 2018 edition of March Madness has definitely embodied the name. We saw UMBC become the first No. 16 seed in history to topple a No. 1 seed. Virginia was the unfortunate top seeded team on the other side of this history.

We also witnessed No. 1 seed Xavier go down along with other title contenders like Arizona, Cincinnati, North Carolina, and Michigan State.

This has created a Sweet 16 that’s mixed well with championship contenders and Cinderellas. Which of these teams has the best chances of cutting down the nets in San Antonio?

I’ll discuss this matter below while covering the Sweet Sixteen rankings from top to bottom. You can also see GTBets’ current 2018 March Madness futures below.

2018 March Madness Futures (Mar. 21 – Sweet Sixteen)

Here are odds on the remaining teams in 2018 March Madness. Keep in mind that you can bet on all of these Sweet 16 teams at GTBets:

  • Duke +350
  • Villanova +375
  • Kentucky +700
  • Gonzaga +750
  • Kansas +750
  • Michigan +800
  • Purdue +1200
  • West Virginia +1500
  • Texas Tech +2000
  • Texas A&M +2500
  • Clemson +3000
  • Kansas State +3000
  • Nevada +3500
  • Florida State +4000
  • Loyola Chicago +5000
  • Syracuse +6000

1. DUKE (28-7)

  • Defeated: Iona (15), Rhode Island (7)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Syracuse (11)
  • Duke Futures Odds: +350

I previewed the 2018 NCAA Tournament field last week and discussed how nobody has more talent than the Blue Devils. But they also had question marks regarding their consistency and defense.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Michigan State vs DukeDuke has largely eliminated these questions in the first couple rounds. They’ve dominated opponents on the offensive glass and have been unstoppable on offense.

Wendell Carter is owning the paint while Marvin Bagley is getting to the rim at will. And teams must also worry about Grayson Allen on the perimeter.

The upcoming matchup against Syracuse could be tricky, because the Orange play such good defense. But this will probably be a speed bump on Duke’s march towards San Antonio.

2. VILLANOVA (32-4)

  • Defeated: Radford (16), Alabama (9)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: West Virginia (5)
  • Villanova Futures Odds: +375

The opening weekend wasn’t a good one for No. 1 seeds. But the Wildcats certainly played like a top seed in advancing past both Radford and Alabama.

Mikal Bridges and Donte DiVicenzo have been knocking down shots from outside. And the defense, which occasionally looked shaky during the regular season, has improved to title contender level.

The only downside for Villanova is that the East Region was the least impacted by upsets. This leaves the Wildcats having to get by West Virginia, and either No. 2 Purdue or No. 3 Texas Tech in the next round.

3. KENTUCKY (26-10)

  • Defeated: Davidson (12), Buffalo (13)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Kansas State (9)
  • Kentucky Futures Odds: +700

Kentucky is an unenviable position right now, because the South Region was filled with upsets.

This leaves the No. 5 Wildcats as the top remaining seed in the South. The second-highest remaining seed in the regional is No. 7 Nevada.

Hamidou Diallo played a great game against Buffalo with 22 points. If he can keep up this play, then Kentucky will have yet another weapon along with their other young talent.

4. KANSAS (29-7)

  • Defeated: Penn (16), Seton Hall (8)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Clemson (5)
  • Kansas Futures Odds: +750

devonte-graham-kansasKansas is looking to erase a recent history of tournament disappointments. And they went a long way towards doing this with a 83-79 victory over Seton Hall.

This win is even more impressive when considering that All-American guard Devonte Graham had a terrible game, shooting just 1-for-7 from the field.

Malik Newman made up for this, though, with a 28-point effort. Udoka Azubuike shook off the rust from an injury by scoring 10 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in 22 minutes.

The Jayhawks are the last power-conference champion left in the field. But they have a tough road to the Final Four, with No. 5 Clemson up next and a possible meeting with Duke in the Elite Eight.

5. GONZAGA (32-4)

Defeated: UNC Greensboro (13), Ohio State (5)
Sweet 16 Opponent: Florida State (9)
Gonzaga Futures Odds: +750

Gonzaga has become as a perennial tournament team. But nobody expected them to perform as well as they have after losing most of their starters from last year’s national title runner-up team.

But here we are, and the Bulldogs have shown solid all-around offense and strong interior defense. The result is a return trip to the Sweet 16, and possibly beyond.

Guard Zach Norvell and forward Rui Hachimura provided heroics for the Zags in the first two rounds. Norvell’s go-ahead three-pointer against UNC Greensboro was especially notable. Hachimura turned out an outstanding effort off the bench with 25 points against Ohio State.

6. MICHIGAN (30-7)

  • Defeated: Montana (14), Houston (6)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Texas A&M (7)
  • Michigan Futures Odds: +800

Michigan was a dark-horse title contender to open the tournament. Nothing has changed in this respect, because they still have a solid chance to win the championship.

John Beilein’s teams are normally known for great offense. But this Wolverines squad has used lock-down defense to prevail in most of its 30 victories.

The defense was especially important against the Cougars, as Michigan had to stay within striking distance with their offense struggling.

Houston star Rob Gray needed 22 shots to score 23 points, while the team as a whole only made 37.1% of their shots. This is the reason why Jordan Poole was able to hit a game-winning three-pointer within the last few seconds.

The Wolverines may not go much further if they don’t finally get some offense going. But they definitely have a chance to win their game against Texas A&M if they bring the same defensive intensity.

7. WEST VIRGINIA (26-10)

  • Defeated: Murray State (12), Marshall (13)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Villanova (1)
  • West Virginia Futures Odds: +1500

Many expected the second-round game between West Virginia and their in-state neighbors, Marshall, to be a competitive affair. But the Mountaineers dominated the contest by a score of 94-71.

This should get the Thundering Herd to stop pestering about playing an annual game. More importantly, West Virginia displayed the aggressive perimeter defense that makes them so tough to play.

The Mountaineers don’t have an easy path to the title, with top-seeded Villinova up next. But they definitely have a shot with their pressurizing defense.

8. TEXAS A&M (22-12)

  • Defeated: Providence (10), North Carolina (2)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Michigan (3)
  • Texas A&M Futures Odds: +2500

Texas A&M’s play has been like Jekyll & Hyde this season. Hyde often showed up during a subpar SEC season for the Aggies. But Dr. Jekyll was in the building for an 86-65 victory over No. 2 UNC.

This is a tough team to play, because their frontcourt has a lethal combination of skill, length, and size. Robert Williams looks like a solid NBA prospect, while Tyler Davis and D.J. Hogg also make the frontcourt a nightmare for opponents.

The challenge for Texas A&M is their lack of depth at guard. But starters Admon Gilder and T.J. Starks have been serviceable so far.

9. TEXAS TECH (26-9)

  • Defeated: Stephen F. Austin (14), Florida (6)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Purdue (2)
  • Texas Tech Futures Odds: +2000

The Red Raiders weren’t quite the same team without Keenan Evans. They lost 2 out of 5 games heading into the tournament. But Evans is back from a toe injury, and the senior has averaged 22.5 points in the first two rounds.

Texas Tech has a quick defense that forces turnovers at a rapid rate. But their weakness is an offense that sometimes disappears. And they’ll need all the offense they can muster against Purdue.

10. PURDUE (30-6)

  • Defeated: Cal State Fullerton (15), Butler (10)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Texas Tech (3)
  • Purdue Futures Odds: +1200

carsen-edwards-purdueIsaac Haas’ injury could ultimately cost the Boilermakers a chance to make the Final Four. After all, the 7-footer’s inside presence opened up a lot of opportunities for this sharp-shooting school.

But backup center Matt Haarms played well enough for this team to work the ball around and make 11 out of 24 three-pointers. Carsen Edwards and Vince Edwards may have to create more shots off the dribble against Texas Tech in order for this team to win.

11. CLEMSON (25-9)

  • Defeated: New Mexico State (12), Auburn (4)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Kansas (1)
  • Clemson Futures Odds: +3000

Clemson is far from a basketball school, given that they hadn’t made the NCAA Tournament in six seasons until this year. But coach Brad Brownell’s squad snapped this streak and has exceeded expectations. In fact, this is the first Tigers squad to make the Sweet 16 since 1997.

Victories over New Mexico State and Auburn haven’t even been close, thanks to a high-scoring backcourt and strong interior defense. Clemson has gotten hot at the right time as they prepare to face their greatest challenge in Kansas.

12. NEVADA (29-7)

  • Defeated: Texas (10), Cincinnati (2)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Loyola-Chicago (11)
  • Nevada Futures Odds: +3500

jordan-caroline-nevadaNevada has gotten used to playing from behind so far, having only led for 4 minutes combined in their first two wins. They erased a 13-point deficit against Texas (OT), then came back from 22 points down to beat Cincinnati.

Eric Musselman’s team has relied on talented transfers to make it this far. This includes Jordan Caroline and Kendall Stephens, who’ve are big scoring threats.

The Wolfpack has the weakest Sweet 16 opponent out of anybody remaining. And this should bode well for their chances of moving on.

13. FLORIDA STATE (22-11)

  • Defeated: Missouri (8), Xavier (1)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Gonzaga (4)
  • Florida State Futures Odds: +4000

The Seminoles have one of the most-mundane profiles in college basketball.

They finished with an even 9-9 record in the ACC. They lost their first-round ACC tournament game to Louisville. And their top scorer averages 12.9 points per game.

But they do have plenty of athleticism and size, which has helped them get by Xavier and Missouri in the first two rounds. This combination makes them tough to score on in the paint, which should help them against Gonzaga, which relies on inside scoring.

14. SYRACUSE (23-13)

  • Defeated: Arizona State (11), TCU (6), Michigan State (3)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Duke (2)
  • Syracuse Futures Odds: +6000

syracuse-tcu-oddsOutside of Tyus Battle and his 19 points per game, this team doesn’t have many quality Division 1 scorers. Oshae Brisset and Franklin Howard are the only other two players who are legitimate offensive threats.

It’s no surprise that the Orange’s defense has led them this far. They have a long team that’s athletic enough to make their zone defense work superbly.

Chances are that this outstanding zone defense won’t be enough against a vastly superior Duke team. But the Orange won’t hang their heads, given that they barely made it into the tournament field anyways.

15. KANSAS STATE (24-11)

  • Defeated: Creighton (8), UMBC (16)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Kentucky (5)
  • Kansas State Futures Odds: +3000

Kansas State is a good team on paper. But it’s hard to have much faith in them, considering that they went 0-7 against Big 12 opponents who were above them in the standings.

The Wildcats also didn’t look very good against No. 16 UMBC, needing a late run to get by their lowly ranked opponent. Perhaps Dean Wade’s return could boost K-State. But even if he does play, it’s unlikely to be enough against No. 5 Kentucky.

16. LOYOLA-CHICAGO (30-5)

  • Defeated: Miami (6), Tennessee (3)
  • Sweet 16 Opponent: Nevada (7)
  • Loyola-Chicago Futures Odds: +5000

loyola-miami-oddsLoyola-Chicago is the tournament’s last remaining true Cinderella. But the 11-seeded Ramblers haven’t gotten here on sheer luck. They’ve beaten two power conference schools en route to the Sweet 16 and now have a 30-win season on their resume.

They at least have a chance against Nevada, thanks to their defensive discipline and methodical offense. Plus they have two solid scorers in Clayton Cluster and Donte Ingram.

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