March Madness odds, predictions: Baylor will expose Villanova



Huh. I mean, It’s great to be back, but I assumed that four days was enough time for them to change the locks.

Baylor (-7.5) over Villanova

The Bears needed just two dominant wins to restore confidence that they clearly have the second-best odds to finish the NCAA Tournament on top. With the best perimeter shooting in the nation and a defense that rediscovered its midseason form while frustrating the least mistake-prone team in the nation (Wisconsin), Baylor will finally make the Wildcats miss Collin Gillespie. Starting point guards become much more important when the opponent upgrades from a double-digit seed to a 1-seed.

Oregon State (+6.5) over Loyola Chicago

The Ramblers have Sister Jean and America on their side again, but they can’t enjoy the underdog role here. The Beavers have found themselves in that position, and have won each of their past five games as outright underdogs. Wins over still-standing UCLA and Oregon (as well as Colorado) helped the Beavers win their first-ever Pac-12 Tournament title and put them in position for their first NCAA Tournament victories in 39 years. The Beavers have been effective on both ends of the floor, toppling an elite Tennessee defense and a Cade Cunningham-led Oklahoma State offense. Still, the Beavers are being given no shot here. That will suit them just fine.

Oral Roberts (+11.5) over Arkansas

The Golden Eagles have earned some respect. In a December game at Arkansas, the Razorbacks were 19.5-point favorites over Oral Roberts. Next time, Vegas will have to slice it to single-digits. After overcoming the superior size and athleticism of Ohio State and Florida, Oral Roberts will now be able to play its style in an uptempo affair. The Golden Eagles held a 10-point halftime lead against the Razorbacks in the regular season, before getting hammered on the glass and losing by 11. Though Arkansas should avoid the upset, the 15th seed is playing with unrivaled confidence, featuring stars Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor, who have combined to average 56.5 points per game in the tournament.

Syracuse (+7) over Houston

It’s never too late to jump on the Jim Boeheim bandwagon. After five Final Four appearances — including a 2016 run as a 10th seed — the 76-year-old Syracuse coach could ride his sharpshooting son, Buddy, to another. Houston’s perimeter defense is no better equipped to slow the Orange than recent top-level defenses (San Diego State, Virginia) and the Cougars’ inconsistent attack could struggle to return the favor against the elder Boeheim’s zone, which is flustering its foes as usual in March.

This season: 19-23

2011-20 record: 261-223-9


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