The NCAA Tournament’s Final Four is Saturday from the Alamodome in San Antonio and features No. 11 seed and South Region champion Loyola-Chicago, one of the biggest Cinderella stories in tournament history, facing No. 3 seed and West champion Michigan in one unlikely semifinal.
The Ramblers are taking a lot of early action, dropping that the Final Four betting line from an open of UM -6.5 to -5 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The other semifinal was rather likely with No. 1 Villanova, the East champion, taking on No. 1 Kansas, the Midwest winner. Those are two of college basketball’s blue-blood programs. The Wildcats opened as 4-point favorites and are now listed as 5-point favorites. The winner of that game will surely open as the favorite for Monday’s championship matchup.
It’s the first time in Final Four history that the seedings are two No. 1s, a No. 3 and a No. 11. It’s the No. 11 that’s an outlier as Loyola-Chicago is only the fourth such seed to make it to the national semifinals. Each of the previous three, VCU in 2011, George Mason in 2006 and LSU in 1986, lost in the Final Four. The lowest-seeded team to win it all was No. 8 Villanova in its epic upset of Georgetown in 1985.
This is the third time in the past four years that at least two top seeds made it to the semifinals. A No. 1 won it both of those years: North Carolina in 2017 and Duke in 2015.
Loyola-Chicago actually has the best winning percentage in NCAA Tournament history at .756 with a 13-4 record. But the Ramblers hadn’t been in the Big Dance since 1985. They did win it all in 1963. Michigan is a powerhouse program from the Big Ten but also has just one championship, coming in 1989. The two schools haven’t played since 1969.
Loyola-Chicago is 4-0 against Power 6 conferences (of which the Big Ten is one) this year, beating Florida, Tennessee, Miami (Fla.) and Kansas State. If Loyola-Chicago wins Saturday, it would tie UConn in 2014 and VCU in 2011 for the most wins as an underdog (five) in a single NCAA Tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
Villanova, the current favorite on the odds to win the NCAA Tournament, and Kansas last met in the 2016 Elite Eight, a 64-59 Wildcats upset of the No. 1 overall seeded Jayhawks. Villanova would go on to win the national championship as a No. 2 seed. A few current key players on both sides were in that game. KU’s lone national title under Coach Bill Self came at the Alamodome 10 years ago.
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Source: Heavy Sports