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NCAA 2017 Basketball Division I Tournament Preview and Betting Tips

De'Aaron Fox is guarded by Joel Berry II (credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The 2017 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament kicked off on Tuesday and will conclude with the championship game in Phoenix on April 3.

Regional Finals Betting Tips 

The second pair of Final Four qualifiers will be known on Sunday after the East Region and South Region finals. Gonzaga and Oregon earlier advanced to the national semifinals after posting wins on Saturday. 

(4) Florida Gators vs (7) South Carolina Gamecocks (19:20 BST)

SEC rivals Florida and South Carolina face off in the East Region finals at the famed Madison Square Garden. Florida reached the Elite Eight after edging Wisconsin 84-83 in overtime in their epic last 16 duel on Friday. 

KeVaughn Allen (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Chris Chiozza dribbled from coast-to-coast and nailed a running three-pointer at the buzzer to seal the win for the Gators. Florida led by seven points with 1:44 left in regulation before Wisconsin rallied and forced overtime after Zack Showalter drained a running triple with two seconds left. While Chiozza hugged the spotlight, it was KeVaughn Allen who paced the Gators with 35 points. Head coach Mike White will also rely on Canyon Barry, Devin Robinson, Kasey Hill and John Egbunu as they aim to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2014. The Gators, who earlier eliminated East Tennessee State (80-65) and Virginia (65-39), made four consecutive regional finals appearances from 2011 to 2014 before skipping the last two NCAA tournaments. South Carolina, meanwhile, reached the Elite Eight for the first time after blasting No. 3 Baylor 70-50. SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell led the onslaught with 24 points. Head coach Frank Martin expects the senior guard to again impress in this match-up and he will get help from PJ Dozier, Duane Notice and Chris Silva. Florida and South Carolina split their two meetings in the SEC regular season with each team winning at home. The winner of this game will play either North Carolina or Kentucky in the Final Four in Phoenix on April 1. 

(1) North Carolina Tar Heels vs (2) Kentucky Wildcats (22:05 BST)

A blockbuster South Region finals is expected to take place at the FedExForum as North Carolina takes on Kentucky. The top-ranked Tar Heels booked an Elite Eight ticket for the second-straight season by beating Butler 92-80 last Friday. Joel Berry fired 26 points while Justin Jackson added 24 as North Carolina never looked back after dominating the first half 52-36. Luke Maye added 16 points and 12 rebounds while Kennedy Meeks grabbed 11 boards for the Tar Heels, who earlier ousted Texas Southern (103-64) and Arkansas (72-65). Isaiah Hicks and Tony Bradley are the other key players for head coach Roy Williams. Kentucky, meanwhile, knocked off UCLA 86-75 to reach the regional finals for the first time since 2015 where it lost to Wisconsin in the Final Four. De'Aaron Fox fired 39 points while fellow freshman Malik Monk added 21 to lead the SEC champions to their 14th consecutive victory. Kentucky earlier booted out Northern Kentucky (79-70) and Wichita State (65-62). Prized big man Edrice Adebayo is the other member of head coach John Calipari's prolific neophyte trio while Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis will provide support. Kentucky defeated North Carolina 103-100 in their regular-season meeting in Las Vegas last December 17 with Monk scoring 47 points. 

Outright Odds

Gonzaga has dislodged North Carolina as favorites in the NCAA Tournament outright market after reaching the Final Four for the first time in school history. The Bulldogs, who crushed Xavier 83-59 in the West Region final in San Jose on Saturday, can be backed at 2/1 with bet365 to win their maiden crown. North Carolina is now the second favorite at 10/3. The top-ranked Tar Heels will face No. 2 Kentucky in the South Region championship game in Memphis on Sunday. Oregon can be backed at 7/2 to win their second NCAA crown after stunning top seed Kansas 74-60 in the Midwest Region finals on Saturday. The Ducks are back in the Final Four since winning the inaugural NCAA Tournament in 1939.

NCAA Outright Odds

TeamBet365 Odds
Gonzaga Bulldogs 2/1
North Carolina Tar Heels 10/3
Oregon Ducks  7/2
Kentucky Wildcats  9/2
Florida Gators   15/2
South Carolina Gamecocks  14/1

2017 NCAA Men's Division I Tournament Schedule

South Region Finals

DateTime (UK)Game
Sunday, March 2622:05 BST (1) North Carolina Tar Heels vs (2) Kentucky Wildcats

East Region Finals

DateTime (UK)Game
Sunday, March 2619:20 (BST)(4) Florida Gators vs (7) South Carolina Gamecocks

Participating Teams

Automatic Qualifiers

America EastVermont
Atlantic 10Rhode Island
Atlantic SunFlorida Gulf Coast
Big 12Iowa State
Big EastVillanova
Big SkyNorth Dakota
Big SouthWinthrop
Big TenMichigan
Big WestUC Davis
CAAUNC Wilmington
C-USAMiddle Tennessee
HorizonNorthern Kentucky
Ivy LeaguePrinceton
MACKent State
MEACNorth Carolina Central
Missouri ValleyWichita State
Mountain WestNevada
NECMount St. Mary's
Ohio ValleyJacksonville State
SouthernEast Tennessee State
SouthlandNew Orleans
SWACTexas Southern
Summit LeagueSouth Dakota State
Sun BeltTroy
WACNew Mexico State

At-large Qualifiers

Big 12Kansas
ACCNorth Carolina
ACCFlorida State
Big 12Baylor
Big EastButler
Big 12West Virginia
Big TenPurdue
Big TenMinnesota
ACCNotre Dame
Big TenMaryland
Big EastCreighton
WCCSt. Mary's
SEC South Carolina
Atlantic 10 Dayton
Big TenWisconsin
ACCMiami (Florida)
SEC Arkansas
Big TenNorthwestern
Big EastSeton Hall
Big TenMichigan State
ACCVirginia Tech
Big 12Oklahoma State
Big EastMarquette
Atlantic 10VCU
Big EastXavier
Big EastProvidence
ACCWake Forest
Big 12Kansas State

NCAA Tournament History

The first ever NCAA Basketball Tournament was played in Evanston, Illinois, in 1939 and featured only eight teams with Oregon emerging as the inaugural champion. The annual tournament was initially considered second-tier to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) but has long overtaken the NIT and is now among the most-watched sporting events in the United States.

The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) is the most successful team in the tournament with 11 titles including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973. Ten of those championships were won under legendary head coach John Wooden, whose great Bruin teams included the likes of Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Gail Goodrich and Bill Walton. 

Kentucky, under head coach Adolph Rupp, was the first dominant force in the tournament having won four titles in the 1940s and 1950s. The Wildcats are the second most successful school in this competition with eight titles.

NCAA Champions

NCAA Men's Basketball Division I Champions

SchoolTitlesChampion Years
UCLA111964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1995
Kentucky81948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998, 2012
Duke51991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015
Indiana51940, 1953, 1976, 1981, 1987
North Carolina51957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009
Connecticut41999, 2004, 2011, 2014
Kansas31952, 1988, 2008
Louisville31980, 1986, 2013
Cincinnati21961, 1962
Florida22006, 2007
Michigan State21979, 2000
North Carolina State21974, 1983
Oklahoma State (formerly Oklahoma A&M)21945, 1946
San Francisco21955, 1956
Villanova21985, 2016
Holy Cross11947
La Salle11954
Loyola (Chicago)11963
Ohio State11960
UTEP (formerly Texas Western)11966

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NCAA 2017 Basketball Division I Tournament Preview and Betting Tips

The 2017 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament kicks off on Tuesday and will conclude with the championship game in Phoenix on April 3.

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