The NCAA tournament bracket committee set things up for a potential fourth Duke Blue Devils vs. UNC Tar Heels matchup on the biggest stage. All it’ll take is both teams winning five games while playing with even larger targets than normal on their backs along the way. But when looking at the bracket, those two teams are going to be tough to bet against.
This is March Madness, though, and there are a few teams who can ruin the Zion Williamson/RJ Barrett vs. Coby White/Cameron Johnson rematch.
For good measure, the Tar Heels aren’t actually the favorite from their side of the bracket to win the tournament, as that goes to the No. 1 seed in the South – the Virginia Cavaliers. As Odds Shark details, UNC has the fourth-best odds to win the title while Duke comes in at No. 1.
- Duke Blue Devils +225
- Virginia Cavaliers +550
- Gonzaga Bulldogs +600
- North Carolina Tar Heels +800
Every other team is +1200 or worse, but that’s not to say anything is out of the question, and any of the four teams above can be sent packing early.
Are Duke & UNC the Two Best NCAA Tournament Picks?
Many fans filling out brackets may have a sour taste left from last year when a top-seeded Virginia team was stunned by the 16-seed UMBC Terriers. That was an unforgettable game, but this is a different Cavaliers team. Even still, you’d be hard-pressed to find many who’ll take them to knock off Roy Williams’ squad in a potential Final Four matchup.
Also, it seems the No. 2 seeds in Tennessee, Michigan State, Kentucky and Michigan aren’t getting quite enough love. While they’re a step below the top-four seeds, at least two of those four could realistically make a title run, and Tennessee and Michigan State are the two teams I’d circle right out of the gate.
In short, Duke and UNC are the two best picks, and I can see the Blue Devils not facing much of an issue until a possible Elite Eight matchup with Michigan State. On the other side, UNC vs. Washington in the second round would be a fun game, but the Tar Heels have too much firepower for the Huskies.
North Carolina could have a tougher early matchup against Auburn and then possibly Kentucky in back-to-back games. I think there’s an argument to be made that Virginia’s path to the Final Four is easier than UNC’s, but Tennessee will prove to be a tall task for them.
With all that said, let’s look at the teams who are legitimate contenders for the Final Four and predict who gets the job done.
Who Wins March Madness? Favorites Based on Bracket & Winner
In order of how much I like each team’s chances to make the Final Four, it looks as follows:
- 1. Duke Blue Devils
- 2. Virginia Cavaliers
- 3. Kentucky Wildcats
- 4. Tennessee Volunteers
- 5. UNC Tar Heels
- 6. Michigan State Spartans
- 7. Gonzaga Bulldogs
- 8. Florida State Seminoles
To be clear, I’m not picking the Seminoles to win the title, but I think they have a good chance at the Final Four. Unfortunately for Michigan State, they drew Duke’s bracket so I’m removing them, along with FSU from the mix to win it all.
From there, I would take UNC in a one-game situation over any team in the Midwest region and that would set up a date with either Virginia or Tennessee (barring an upset). I like the Tar Heels to win against the Cavaliers, but I’m turning my attention to the Volunteers.
For whatever reason, people seem to forget just how good this Tennessee team is. They have five losses this season which came against Kansas, Kentucky, LSU and Auburn (twice). The Vols also defeated Gonzaga and Kentucky (twice), while putting together a superb season. Can Tennessee defeat the Wildcats for the third time in one year? I don’t think it comes to that, but I do believe they take down the Tar Heels and face Duke in the title game.
Sorry, Heels fans, the Volunteers have the talent across the board to ruin a potential Duke-UNC title game. But they won’t play spoiler for Zion and company at that point, and it’s going to be another Coach K championship.
Pick: Duke Blue Devils defeat Tennessee Volunteers for title