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NCAA Tournament Midwest region preview: One favorite, one sleeper, one dark horse

We run down through the full list of odds for each team in the Midwest region and pick our favorite, sleeper, and dark horse to make the Final Four.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Rutgers vs Illinois Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Midwest region of the NCAA Tournament might be the most competitive and toughest to figure out which team will emerge to earn their spot in the Final Four.

But we’re going to give it a shot as we break down the favorite, a sleeper and dark horse candidate to be one of the last four teams standing at the end of it all.

Favorite: Illinois

The Illinois Fighting Illini are one of the Big Ten’s two No. 1 seeded teams in this tournament and are sitting with +150 odds to make it to the Final Four. They’re fresh off a Big Ten Tournament title, defeating Ohio State in the process. KenPom has them ranked as the third-best team in the nation with a top-10 offense and defense.

Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn are both powerhouses in their own right, combining for nearly 40 points per game. Cockburn is a menace on the glass too, grabbing nearly 10 boards each time out. Those two, with some key contributions from teammates along the way, could easily find their way to the Final Four.

Sleeper: Houston

Most people tend to overlook the Houston Cougars because they came out of a pretty weak conference, and didn’t even win the AAC’s regular-season title. But the selection committee was high-enough on the Coogs to give them a No. 2 seed, and they currently have +400 odds to reach the Final Four.

KenPom lists Houston as the sixth-best squad in the nation with the eighth best offense, in terms of efficiency. Though they only have three losses, they just have one top-25 win all season, a dominating victory over Texas Tech. But Quentin Grimes is averaging 18 points per game, and his athletic teammates are legit. They could give the Illini a real test.

Dark Horse: Loyola Chicago

The Ramblers are back in the NCAA Tournament after they won the hearts of the nation back in 2018. They currently have +1400 odds to make it to the Final Four again, but we all know this team is capable of defying the odds. Yes, Sister Jean will be there.

They have a tough matchup in the Round of 64 taking on ACC Tournament champion Georgia Tech. But the Ramblers have won 17 of their last 18 games, and the roster has some experience knowing how to win games in March when it matters most.

Odds to reach 2021 Elite Eight, Final Four — Midwest region

Team Make Elite 8 Miss Elite 8 Make Final 4
Team Make Elite 8 Miss Elite 8 Make Final 4
Illinois -167 +133 +150
Houston +120 -150 +400
Oklahoma State +400 -625 +600
West Virginia +350 -480 +700
Tennessee +650 -1250 +1000
Loyola Chicago +1300 -5000 +1400
Rutgers +900 -2000 +1800
Clemson +1500 -10000 +2000
Georgia Tech +1800 -10000 +2000
Syracuse +1500 -10000 +2500
San Diego State +600 -1000 +3000
Oregon State +2000 -10000 +6000
Morehead State +5000 -10000 +8000
Cleveland State +5000 -10000 +10000
Liberty +3000 -10000 +10000
Drexel +5000 -10000 +12000

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