- There is no overwhelming favorite in March Madness this year.
- Most experts like Virginia, Villanova, Gonzaga, and Michigan State to make the Final Four in their brackets.
- Virginia, Villanova, and Michigan State are popular title picks.
Perhaps the big takeaway from looking through March Madness brackets filled out by experts and examining their Final Four picks is that there is no overwhelming favorite to win the NCAA men’s basketball title this year.
Villanova, which won the title in 2016 and is a No. 1 seed this year, was one of the most popular picks to make the Final Four as well as a trendy title choice. Virginia, the top seed overall, was also a reasonably popular pick among experts. The college-basketball blue bloods Duke and North Carolina also got a fair amount of love, as did the NCAA Tournament mainstays Tom Izzo (Michigan State) and Mark Few (Gonzaga).
We looked at the predictions made by 47 experts at four publications. The most popular Final Four teams among those experts were Virginia, Villanova, Gonzaga, and Michigan State.
Michigan State, Virginia, and Villanova were each picked by 25 of the experts, while 19 picked Gonzaga. Other popular picks included Arizona (19 experts) and Duke (18).
Virginia, Villanova, and Michigan State are the most popular pick among experts to cut down the nets at the end of the tournament.
Virginia, Villanova, and Michigan State were each chosen by 11 experts to win the title. Duke was another popular choice, with seven experts picking the Blue Devils to win it all.
Here is a closer look at how those picks broke down by site:
- ESPN, 27 experts: Virginia (15 experts), Villanova (21), Gonzaga (12), and Michigan State (19) were favored to win their respective regions.
- Michigan State (9) is the top choice among ESPN experts for the title.
- CBS Sports, 8 experts: Arizona (5), Villanova (6), UNC (5), and Duke (5) are the most popular Final Four picks.
- Duke (3) is the top national-title choice among CBS experts.
- Sports Illustrated, 8 experts: Virginia (6), Villanova (5), and Gonzaga (4) were picked by at least a plurality of experts to reach the Final Four, while Duke (3) and Michigan State (3) tied as the top choice in the Midwest region.
- Sports Illustrated experts also produced a three-way tie between Duke (2), Villanova (2), and Virginia (2) as the top national-title choice.
- USA Today, 4 experts: At least a plurality of experts picked Arizona (3), Villanova (2), North Carolina (2), Duke (3) to make the Final Four.
- Villanova (2) is the top title choice among USA Today’s experts.