Not Too Early To Think About College Hoops
by Trevor Whenham - 09/08/2006
Sure, college football has only just begun, but March is just six months away, and odds on the next March Madness tournament winner are already set at Pinnacle Sportsbook, so it is never too early to take a look at who may replace Florida as national champions (or if the Gators can repeat). With everyone concentrating on football these days you may be able to find some value for the teams you like. With that in mind, here is a very, very early preview of some of the highlights of the college basketball championship betting situation:
Florida (+534) - The national champs are the clear favorites as usual this year, and for once they are clearly deserving of it. All of their key players will return and they will be a year older and wiser. Joakim Noah may actually weigh more than 120 pounds this season. If you like the team but don't like the price very much then your best hope will be an early loss to a decent opponent. That will get rid of some of the bandwagon jumpers and should bump the price up to a more palatable level.
North Carolina (+602) - If you saw Tyler Hansbrough play last year at all you can't help but drool about what he should be able to do this year. Add in the freakish recruiting that the Tar Heels have enjoyed the last couple of years (the last couple of decades really, but you get my point), and the wizard-like coaching of Roy Williams and you have a team that will be very hard to beat.
Kansas (+812) - These odds may be a bargain, because they are only going to get lower if this team accomplishes what it should be able to. The biggest problem the Jayhwaks face may be that they have too much talent. If they can find a way to play together and give everyone enough playing time, and they can get over their annoying habit of flaming out in the tournament, then they could really make some noise.
Ohio State (+1207) - Are you drinking the Greg Oden kool-aid? Oden, the most hyped teenager not named LeBron in a long, long time will miss the first 13 games or so of the season for the Buckeyes, but the team is deep enough to make the tournament without him. Strong recruiting added to a conference champion team that could roll through the Big Ten again. When Oden returns, his presence -- if he is as good as reported -- could carry the team on a run. Ohio State fans had better enjoy it, because this is almost certainly the only year they will get to watch him.
Duke (+1734) - Duke fans will be thrilled, because these are the best odds you have been able to get on Coach K's boys in a long while. As a passionate Duke hater I am pleased to see that they aren't the most highly regarded team out there, but I have also been burned by them too many times to count them out.
Georgetown (+2531) - Watching Roy Hibbert get better with every game he played later in the season couldn't help but make you think that this team has some serious potential this year. The gigantic but scrawny center will only get better, and he is joined by Jeff Green, one of the most underrated players in the country.
Pitt (+2531) - Carl Krauser is gone, and his toughness will be missed, but Aaron Gray is back to plug up the middle of the court, and the rest of the roster is full of talented guys the nation hasn't heard of yet. Pitt is a longshot, but they have to be considered a live one.
Arizona (+3021) - He's not getting the hype that some other freshmen are, but if forward Chase Budinger is as good as the whispers are indicating he might be, then Lute Olson's team could turn heads. Add in Marcus Williams, potentially the best player in the Pac-10, and it really gets interesting.
LSU (+3044) - The Tigers will be without the impossibly acrobatic Tyrus Thomas this season. Glen Davis is back, however, and he is leaner and meaner. Losing Thomas will be huge, but it might not hurt that much because it means the team can play a more steady, conventional game. The team learned a lot from its run and it has three starters and most of the bench back to build on.
Michigan (+12500) - I know they don't stand a chance of winning it all, but as a die hard fan I will be throwing my money away on the Wolverines, so I figured I'd mention them in the hopes that I wouldn't be alone in my losses.
George Washington (+15000) and Creighton (+15000) - George Mason's run this year means that the hunger for a mid-major national champion will be higher than it has ever been. George Washington and Creighton are the two schools with the best odds to pull it off at this point. George Washington may not be as good without Pops Mensah-Bonsu. At the very least, most people won't be able to name a GW player anymore.