The NCAA basketball National Championship tournament - also known as March Madness - has reached its final stages. Only four teams remain from 64 hopefuls to start the tournament: Loyola Chicago Ramblers from the South who will take on the Michigan Wolverines from the West, and the Villanova Wildcats from the East who will face the Kansas Jayhawks from the Midwest.
Loyola's fairy-tale journey continues
While the tournament was full of surprises, with shocking upsets in each round, the Final Four teams aren't that surprising - with the exception of Loyola-Chicago. The other three teams were ranked in top three in their region, Villanova and Kansas 1st and Michigan 3rd. Loyola, on the other hand was seeded only 11th in the South and are this year's Cinderella story.
To reach the final four, Loyola had to beat four higher ranked teams on way. The first three games were thrilling nail-biters, two of which they won by one point (#3 Tennessee, #7 Nevada) and the other by a two point margin (#6 Miami). In the regional final they ousted 9th ranked Kansas State by 16 points, 62-78. With odds of 13.5 on the Betfair Exchange, Loyola Chicago are regarded - again - as the clear underdogs to win it all.
Villanova face their toughest task to date
The other three teams had a much smoother route to the Final Four. Villanova, regarded as the favorites to win the National Championship with odds of 1.9520/21, took the first four games easily. West Virginia and Texas Tech provided sterner opposition, but again they rolled over for the Wildcats who took a 12-point victory over each.
The Kansas Jayhawks had a slightly more troublesome campaign, but not by much. They faced #8 Seton Hall, #5 Clemson and #2 Duke, all of whom were beaten by four points and they sent #16 Penn home packing 76-60. Kansas are regarded as the third most likely Champions by the Betfair Exchange, with odds of 4.407/2.
Has Michigan's luck run out?
Last but not least comes the other so called underdog, Michigan. They were ranked third in a tough West region, behind both Xavier and North Carolina. Michigan never had to face either of the big boys, as they succumbed to shock defeats in the second round.
Michigan easily overcame #14 Montana, but then had to earn their keep against #6 Houston, who the Wolverines only beat by one point. To reach the Final Four, Michigan then went on a rampage to oust #7 Texas Tech 99-72 and finally #9 Florida State by a much leaner margin, 58-54. Michigan is the second favorite to win the whole tournament at 3.7511/4.
In Accuscore simulations, the Final Four games are likely to result in the two biggest Championship favorites winning their respective games.
However, Loyola's magnificent run hasn't gone unnoticed by the supercomputer: Loyola-Chicago is winning 42.9% of the simulations against their opponent Michigan. The Wolverines are still favorites by 57.1%, but not as clearly as might be assumed. The Betfair Exchange currently offers odds of 3.3512/5 for backing Loyola Chicago, indicating a percentage of 29.85% - which is considerably less than Accuscore's simulations suggest.
In the other pair, Villanova should easily roll Kansas over and can punch their ticket to the final with a 71.9 % probability. You can back Villanova at odds of 1.412/5, which indicates ~71% probability and is very much in line with Accuscore's simulations.
For the Championship there's only one favorite and it is Villanova with close to 50% probability to win it all. Regardless of who triumphs between Michigan and Loyola-Chicago, the Wildcats are far more likely to win the National Finals game and take their second title in three years.
Michigan would make a fight of it, but even their chances of overcoming Loyola-Chicago first and Villanova then are rather unlikely, ~25%. Kansas with 14% and Loyola Chicago with 11% are considered outsiders.
On the Betfair Exchange, the only NCAAB Tournament Winner value bet at the moment, according to Accuscore's simulations, would be outsiders Loyola Chicago. Their odds of 13.50 indicate a probability of 7.41%, which is scantily lower than the 11% suggested by the simulations.