Misery loves company, and there is plenty of it near the top of the men’s college basketball rankings. Of course, the rankings shifted accordingly when the new ones were released on Monday — with former No. 1 Louisville finding itself down in 12th position (in the AP Poll) after a three-game slide that finally ended on Monday night. Duke lost for the second time in four games last Sunday, and it did so emphatically, by 27 points at Miami. Syracuse fell at Villanova last Saturday and has plunged to No. 6, one spot behind the Blue Devils.
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What does it all mean for the rapidly-approaching NCAA Tournament? (Odds provided by Sportsbook.ag).
Michigan (+350) – For the first time since the Fab Five took the 1992-93 season by storm, Michigan is ranked No. 1 in the AP poll. The Wolverines (19-1) have a comfortable lead over Kansas, but the top two spots are reversed in the Coaches Poll. UM point guard Trey Burke, arguably the frontrunner for Player of the Year, is averaging 17.9 points and 7.1 assists per outing.
Florida (+400) – The Gators made uproarious noise when they won back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007. This team, on the other hand, is quietly going about its business, and it is up to No. 4 in both polls. Florida (16-2) has won eight in a row since losing two in a three-game stretch to Arizona and Kansas State.
Indiana (+700) – The preseason No. 1 has slipped to third in the rankings in part because of a disappointing home loss to Wisconsin on Jan. 15. Still, all the pieces are there with Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, and sweet-shooting Jordan Hulls.
Kansas (+700) – Who could really blame the coaches for having Kansas at No. 1? The Jayhawks are 19-1 and have won 18 straight since their only loss to Michigan State. Bill Self’s squad hasn’t always been dominant, but perhaps it bodes even better for the Big Dance that this team knows how to win competitive ballgames.
NBA Eastern Conference
Miami Heat (-160) – Miami is in a minor midseason swoon, having lost seven of its last 15 games (5-10 against the spread in that span). Still, LeBron and company dealt with regular-season doldrums last year and went on to win it all.
Chicago Bulls (+500) – The Bulls have to love where they stand right now — third in the East and a mere 2.5 games back of the first-place Heat. And, of course, this is without Derrick Rose. Rose has reportedly taken full contact in practice, so his return could come sooner rather than later.
New York Knicks (+500) – The door has been open for a major move at the top of the standings, but New York has not walked through it. A 4-5 record in their last nine overall (plus a 6-10-1 ATS mark in their last 17) leaves the Knicks at 27-15 and sandwiched in between Chicago and Miami.
Brooklyn Nets (+1200) – One team making a push is Brooklyn, which has won 11 of its last 14 contests as of Wednesday afternoon. Seven-foot center Brook Lopez has scored in double-figures in 23 consecutive games.
Odds to win a major in 2013
Tiger Woods (+140) – Tiger coasted to a rain-delayed title at Torrey Pines, and for his efforts he has surged ahead of Rory McIlroy as tournament favorite (+400 to +600). The 14-time major champion has never done much at 2013’s other three slam courses, but he has donned a green jacket four times.
Rory McIlroy (+150) – McIlroy did not play well earlier this month in Abu Dhabi, missing the cut (and not because of a two-stroke penalty, which is why Tiger missed it). Still, the Irishman has plenty of time to get his game in top-rank form before the stretch of majors comes calling.
Phil Mickelson (+450) – It could be Masters or bust for Mickelson, whose game is in relative shambles. But he almost always rises to the occasion no matter what in Augusta. Lefty is +1800 to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open this weekend.
Luke Donald (+500) – Right now, Donald is the best player never to win a major. He has, however, finished in the Top 10 in three of the last eight major championships.
NASCAR Sprint Cup
Jimmie Johnson (+500) – JJ has gone two straight years without winning the championship — a veritable slump by his standards. Still, Johnson losing is an aberration rather than the rule. You have to think +500 is outstanding value on this guy.
Kyle Busch (+800) – Busch knows how to win; there’s no doubt about that. Consistency is a different story. He has 24 career victories, but never once has he finished better than fifth in the Sprint Cup standings.
Kasey Kahne (+800) – Kahne was a contender almost until the very end last season, ultimately finishing in fourth place (the best finish of his career). He owns 14 career race wins, all in the last eight years.
Brad Keselowski (+800) – The defending champion is back for more. If the Sprint Cup race is half as close as the Keselowski-Johnson Twitter follower duel, it’s going to be a good one. Johnson currently leads 362K to 359K.
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