Tournament Challenge: Virginia-Villanova remains most popular title game pick

What are the hot trends going into the tourney? (1:07)

Chris "The Bear" Fallica, Stanford Steve and Doug Kezirian break down the most surprising gambling trends going into the NCAA tournament. (1:07)

We are just hours away from the First Four beginning, but since those games cannot be selected, the Tournament Challenge game doesn’t lock until Thursday.

Here are the latest observations regarding TC picks:

  • Virginia is still clearly the most popular choice to win the championship, but its percentage continues to fall … now at 23.0 percent.

  • Other No. 1 seeds: Villanova (14.7%), Kansas (8.0%) and Xavier (3.2%).

  • No. 2 seed Duke is actually the third-most popular choice to win the title at 9.6 percent, but here are others who are getting more love than Xavier:

  • No. 3 Michigan State (8.0%), tied with Kansas as the fourth-most popular choice.

  • No. 2 North Carolina (6.9%)

  • No. 4 Arizona (4.6%)

  • No. 3 Michigan (3.6%)

The most popular title game remains Virginia-Villanova, but that number also continues to drop. It’s now at 15.2 percent of brackets.

Despite decidedly more people picking Virginia to win it all, Villanova is the most popular pick to reach the Final Four (58.8 percent), edging Virginia (53.9). North Carolina is the only other team to be picked to get to the Final Four in at least one-third of brackets (35.1 percent).

Butler (11.6 percent) and Texas (11.5), both No. 10 seeds, are the only two double-digit seeds to be picked to reach the Sweet 16 in more than 10 percent of brackets.

More than a quarter of brackets have 12-seed New Mexico State beating Clemson in the first round (26.6 percent), the highest among No. 12s.

No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin (13.4 percent) is picked to win its first-round game in more brackets than any of the No. 13 seeds.