For the past four years, the NCAA men’s basketball champion has been a No. 1 seed in one of the four regionals. Which is to say the past four winners have hardly been a surprise.
But it hasn’t always been the case in recent history that one of the top seeds has come out on top. In 2006, Florida was a No. 3 seed and won it all. In 2003, Syracuse was a No. 3 seed and took the title.
Of course, we all remember 1985 when Villanova, a No. 8 seed, went on a Cinderella run all the way to the final, where it beat heavily favored Georgetown.
Why am I mentioning all this? Well, many experts are predicting that 2011 might be the year for an unheralded team to break the string of championships for top seeds. The reason? While there are a number of very good teams out there, there might not be a truly great team, and that could make for a wide-open tournament.
So, whom might surprise come March? We’ve seen good support for a number of medium to long shots on our NCAA men’s basketball tournament futures board at Bodog.
One of those teams is Villanova at 35/1 odds. The Wildcats went into the season with high hopes but have suffered a number of disappointing losses in the past month and a half. On Monday, they lost 69-64 at home to Syracuse dropping their record to 21-7.
While many Villanova fans are starting to panic, some of our bettors are starting to see value. Or at the very least, a decent opportunity to turn 20 bucks into 700 by betting on a team with a realistic chance of getting to the Final Four.
When you look back at Villanova’s losses, almost all of them have been close. There was a 3-point loss to Pitt. There was a 3-point loss to Georgetown. And there was a 2-point loss to Connecticut. Those are all good Big East squads.
The Wildcats have three more tough games to finish their regular season. On Saturday, they host St. John’s, followed by trips to Notre Dame and Pitt. If they can get a few wins and regain some confidence along the way they’ll be a tough out once tourney time rolls around.
Another team that’s prompted some futures action recently is Texas A&M, currently at a very tempting 80/1. The Aggies have won five in a row heading into Saturday’s game at Baylor. If they can make it six straight, they’ll travel to Kansas on Wednesday with a shot to make a real statement.