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Kentucky Given Best NCAA Tournament Odds Among Non-No. 1 Seeds

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari screaming on the sideline.
The 2018-19 Kentucky Wildcats have considerably more experience than most of John Calipari's teams in Lexington. Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire.
  • Sportsbooks give Kentucky the best odds of winning the NCAA Tournament outside of the No. 1 seeds
  • The 27-6 Wildcats fell 82-78 to Tennessee in the SEC Tournament semifinals
  • Kentucky won March Madness in 2010-11 as a No. 4 seed in the East Region

Should you be wild about the Kentucky Wildcats? At +1100, one sportsbook gives the Wildcats the fifth-best odds to win the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

The sportsbook has given Kentucky the lowest odds of any team that isn’t entering March Madness as the No. 1 seed in one of the four regions.

Odds To Win 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

Team Odds to win 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament
Duke +225
Gonzaga +550
Virginia +600
North Carolina +700
Kentucky +1100
Michigan State +1200
Tennessee +1600
Michigan +1600
Texas Tech +2000
Auburn +3300
Florida State +3300
Houston +3300
Purdue +3300

*All odds taken March 18. Follow link for complete list.

The Wildcats are the second-seeded team in the Midwest Region, where UNC sits on the one line.

Kentucky Has Done It Before

The Wildcats most recently won the NCAA Tournament in 2010-11, and did it while starting out as the No. 4 seed in the East Region.

In 1997-98, as with this year, the Wildcats entered March Madness as a No. 2 seed and went all the way to win the title. They were also a two seed while winning the NCAA Tournament in 1977-78.

It’s Been a Wild Wildcats Season

The Wildcats opened the NCAA season ranked No. 2 in the polls but it began in ominous fashion when they were thrashed 118-84 by the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils.

Kentucky then won seven in a row before losing to the unranked Seton Hall Pirates, 84-83. Coincidentally, Seton Hall and Kentucky could clash again in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats rebounded to whip the No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels 80-72, and it’s North Carolina that just happens to hold the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region ahead of Kentucky.

But then another loss to an unranked opponent was handed to the Wildcats, a 77-75 defeat by the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Encouragingly, the Wildcats are 4-0 this season against three teams that figure to be the stiffest challengers in the Midwest Region: No. 1 North Carolina, No. 4 Kansas (71-63 win), and No. 5 Auburn, the SEC Tournament champions (82-80 road win, 80-53 home win).

It’s pretty easy to make a case that Kentucky could win the Midwest.

Other Longshots to Consider

Since the post-Selection Sunday NCAA Tournament odds were listed Sunday, there’s been significant action among those rated just below the No. 1 seed. Kentucky’s odds lengthened from +1000 to +1100, while the Michigan State Spartans, the Big Ten regular-season co-champs and tournament champions, dropped from +1400 to +1200.

The Spartans toppled rival Michigan in all three meetings this season, including the final game of the regular season to earn a share of that title, and then again in the Big Ten Tournament final. In all three games, they overcame sizable second-half deficits.

But coach Tom Izzo Spartans hasn’t made it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament since 2014-15, and Sparty has to beat Duke to win their region

If you’re looking to play a team outside the No. 1 seeds, Kentucky is your best bet.


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