The Duke Blue Devils were lucky to escape with a 77-76 win over No. 9 seed UCF in Sunday’s second-round matchup. However, that close shave has not shaken the Blue Devils from their position atop the national championship futures, where they sit as +300 favorites on the March Madness odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Blue Devils entered the tournament as short +225 chalk to win the national championship, and didn’t disappoint with a lopsided 85-62 win over No. 16 seed North Dakota State in first-round action. However, the team now faces a familiar foe in the Sweet 16, as they take on No. 4 seed Virginia Tech as 7-point betting favorites on Friday at Capitol One Arena.
The East Region is not the only bracket with top seeds still standing. The nation’s top teams have performed as expected in this year’s NCAA Tournament, leaving all four top seeds, second-seeds, and third-seeds in contention for the national championship.
Not surprisingly, the top seeds continue to dominate at the top of the odds, with the Virginia Cavaliers sitting second on the NCAA Tournament odds at +425, just ahead of Gonzaga at +450, and the North Carolina Tar Heels, who are set at +600.
The Cavaliers look to have built on their humiliation in last year’s opening round, when they became the first No. 1 seed to fall to a No. 16 seed with a 74-54 loss. Virginia has returned to the Big Dance with a vengeance. The Cavaliers defeated No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb 71-56 in first-round action before knocking off No. 9 seed Oklahoma 63-51 as 10.5-point chalk, and now enjoy a favorable Sweet 16 matchup with No. 12 seed Oregon, where they’re 8-point favorites.
The Bulldogs face one of the five ACC squads still standing, as they take on No. 4 seed Florida State as 7.5-point favorites. Gonzaga averaged 85 points per game over the first weekend of the tournament, but is just 3-6 straight up in nine previous Sweet 16 appearances.
The Tar Heels also will have their hands full as they battle No. 5 seed Auburn as narrow 4.5-point favorites on the March Madness lines. UNC cruised to an easy 81-59 win over No. 9 seed Washington as 11.5-point favorites but face a huge test against the SEC Tournament champion Tigers, who ride a 10-game SU win streak including a 89-75 demolition of No. 4 seed Kansas as 2-point chalk Sunday.
Despite that success, Auburn trails at a lengthy +2800 on the national championship odds, well back of the quartet of No. 2 seeds, including Michigan State at +1000, Kentucky at +1200, Michigan at +1500, and Tennessee at +1600.