Mad about March - Final Four Edition

The NCAA Tournament field has dwindled down to 16 teams and, in one week, we will have our Final Four set. With four teams left in each region, let’s break down the matchup and the most likely participants in this year’s Final Four.

South Region:

The Sweet 16 matchups:

#1 Alabama vs. #5 San Diego State

#6 Creighton vs. #15 Princeton

This region is truly Alabama’s to lose. The Crimson Tide rolled through their first two matchups and with the departures of Arizona and Virginia, two teams capable of beating the Tide through different means, the field looks less than imposing for Alabama. Length, speed, and offensive rebounding are the strengths of the Crimson Tide and the only team possibly able to slow them would be Creighton. Still, the Bluejays will have their hands full with a Princeton team that has proven to be tenacious. My money would be on Alabama to cruise into the Final Four without much of a sweat in this remaining South Region field.

Title Odds: Alabama (+350)

East Region:

The Sweet 16 matchups:

#9 FAU vs. #4 Tennessee

#3 Kansas State vs. #7 Michigan State

Even more so than the South Region, the East Region has had casualties at the top of the bracket. Purdue is gone, Duke is gone as well as Marquette. Suddenly, the highest seed remaining is a team that was picked to finish last in the Big 12, Kansas State. Both FAU and Kansas State will have to overcome arguably the two teams playing the best defense in the tournament, Tennessee and Michigan State. I think Tennessee can exert its will on a smallish FAU team but I think Michigan State’s run ends vs. Kansas State. In the region final, Kansas State will continue it's improbably run with enough offense to upend the Volunteers. In a tournament dominated early by cinderella teams like FDU, Princeton, and FAU, a power conference underdog will dance into the Final Four.

Title Odds: Kansas State (+3500)

Midwest Region:

The Sweet 16 matchups:

#1 Houston vs. #5 Miami

#2 Texas vs. #3 Xavier

The Midwest Region has nearly gone according to form save for Miami’s beatdown of Indiana on Sunday night. Houston’s matchup with Miami should be a fascinating game with contrasting styles. The Hurricanes can shoot the ball from long range and will test Houston’s usual dominance on the glass thanks to the presence of Norchad Omier. Omier had 17 rebounds vs. the Hoosiers including eight on the offensive glass to keep possessions alive. Texas has been smothering teams on the defensive end and has relied on excellent guard play on offense. I am looking at an all-Texas regional final game and I like the Cougars to sneak past Texas as the second #1 seed in the Final Four.

Title Odds: Houston (+360)

West Region:

The Sweet 16 matchups:

#4 UConn vs. #8 Arkansas

#2 UCLA vs. #3 Gonzaga

Arkansas was able to pull off the major upset of this region, again keeping a defending national champion from getting to the Sweet 16. The reward for the Razorbacks’ upset? A chance to take on one of the most balanced teams in the tournament, UConn. With size, shooting, and defense, I like UConn to advance to the regional final game. In the other matchup, two west coast teams will do battle as Gonzaga takes on UCLA. To me, Gonzaga has the best offense in college basketball and the size to really bother a smallish UCLA team. I look for the Zags to reach the regional final and take on the Huskies. From the outset, I’ve been pushing the Zags as a Final Four team and I won’t stop here. They can match up with UConn’s size and they have the type of offense that will test UConn. In what should be the most entertaining matchup of the Elite Eight, I see Gonzaga sneaking into the Final Four.

Title Odds: Gonzaga (+1100)

*Tournament title odds in parenthesis and courtesy of

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Mark Ruelle

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.