This Week in Betting, A to Z (Jan 29)
by Trevor Whenham - 01/29/2007
A - Arizona. Poor old Lute Olsen. The guy has been coaching for about 146 years, and he seems like one of the truly good guys in basketball, but he may never get over the complete annihilation his team was handed by North Carolina. There wasn't a single part of Arizona's game that wasn't disgustingly awful.
B - Bynum, Andrew. Most of us have socks that are older than the Lakers' center, but the second year Kareem Abdul-Jabbar disciple is starting to figure out this whole basketball thing. He slowed down after a hot start, but he has 42 rebounds in his last three games. Not bad considering he won't be 20 until well into next season.
C - Cardinal. Stanford has had an exceptionally good week on the basketball court. They upset USC on Thursday, and then rocked the Pac-10 to the foundation with an impressive upset of UCLA. The conference was hard enough to handicap already before yet another team showed that they want a piece of the action.
D - Duke. Remember when people were writing off Coach K's boys after a rough ACC start? Turns out it was premature. They've won five in a row in conference, and they are right back up near the top of the standings. It's not a wonder that the team is so successful if this is an off year.
E - Eastern Conference. The NBA should be embarrassed about the Atlantic Division of this conference, but it's finally showing some signs of life. For a whole day one team, the Raptors, was actually at .500 this week. Given where the teams were a month ago, that's a bit of a miracle.
F - Federer, Roger. Except maybe for Tiger, there is no athlete in the world who is even close to as dominant as this Swiss freak. He won the Australian Open without dropping a single set. A $100 bet on the final only paid $12.50 in profit, but that's better than you get at the bank, and the investment was at least as secure as a bank vault.
G - Getting noticed. No one did more for their reputation at the Senior Bowl than defensive lineman Amobi Okoye of Louisville. He was fast, athletic and impressive. He's also a 19-year-old senior. Louisville has redshirt freshmen who are older than he is. He was starting as a 16-year-old freshman. What were you doing at 16?
H - Helton, Todd. The Colorado first baseman that can hit any pitch thrown even sort of near him is reportedly about to be traded to the Red Sox. If I was a Yankees' fan that news would not make me very happy at all.
I - In town. The Bears have arrived in Miami and the Colts will soon join them. Coverage of this game by the mainstream media will now go from the ridiculous to the unbelievably ridiculous.
J - Jeff Weaver. The unexpected star of the World Series has a new home in Seattle. I hope for the best for him, because the guy really deserves it, but I'm not optimistic that Cy Young could excel with the lineup that the Mariners will be fielding this year.
K - Kickers. We've already heard more about the two kickers in this Super Bowl than we have for any past game in a long time. Vinatieri is a playoff legend and Gould is more than competent, but, for the sake of excitement, I hope that neither of them plays a significant role in this game. Field goals are so rarely entertaining.
L - Loser. Mitch Mustain has enrolled for classes again at Arkansas. That's only news because the crybaby freshman and his ridiculous parents asked for his release because the QB wasn't getting enough playing time in the right kind of system at Arkansas. He didn't transfer anywhere, so now he'll probably just crawl back to the Razorbacks with his tail between his legs. Well played, Mitch.
M - Mirren, Helen. Are you betting on the Oscars? Mirren is listed at 1/20 to win the Best Actress trophy. Those are ridiculously low odds, but it's also the safest short-term five percent return available anywhere on this planet.
N - NHL. I'm a Canadian, which means I'm automatically a hockey fan, so I was embarrassed by the All-Star game this week. It was on a Wednesday, which is ridiculous, and it didn't even make it into the Top 20 in cable ratings in New York, L.A. and other major markets. Way to showcase the game.
O - One week. Dear NFL. Please quit taking two weeks between the conference finals and the Super Bowl. We need you. We're bored without you. There is only so much to say, and you can only read the same thing so many times. Just play the game. I'm begging you.
P - Phoenix Suns. After watching the Suns beat the Cavs on Sunday I have come to the conclusion that they may never lose again. LeBron played very well, but there was never a single moment in the whole game in which the Suns had even the smallest doubt that they were going to win handily.
Q - Quinn, Brady. The QB had an 'injury' that kept him out of the Senior Bowl. That's the best thing that could have happened to him. With the lousy weather at the game he only could have hurt his standing in the draft. The longer he can avoid performing under scrutiny, the better his draft standing will be.
R - Runner. Another new face popped up on the Kentucky Derby trail this weekend. Storm in May was impressive in the Sunshine Millions Dash at Gulfstream. He was in 10th place after half a mile, but was comfortably ahead a quarter mile later. His connections say he can stretch out to longer distances comfortably.
S - Smith, Troy. The Senior Bowl experience gave us a glimpse of what the Heisman winner's career could be like. He had a rough week of practice and got criticized soundly. His stats in the game were unimpressive. His draft status probably suffered by quite a bit, but here's the thing - he won the game handily. Smith is the kind of guy who wins. It will be interesting to see when a team decides to gamble on him in the draft. It could be a huge bargain.
T - Tigers. Wow, is Clemson ever a fraud. They were the last undefeated team in the country, but since then they have lost four of their last five and they have looked pretty average. From 17-0 to not making the tournament - that would be embarrassing. They have completely forgotten how to rebound.
U - Useless. Sometimes the No Fun League does things that really make you scratch your head. A week after the game ended they fined Reggie Bush $5,000 for taunting Brian Urlacher as he scored a touchdown. Why? Wasn't losing the game badly probably punishment enough? Besides, Bush could spend $5K three times a day every day and never notice it was gone.
V - Vasher, Nathan. The Chicago cornerback and his associates - Charles Tillman and Ricky Manning Jr. - are going to get tested early by Peyton Manning. If Vasher holds up, and Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne don't get established in the first quarter, then it's a whole new ball game in Miami.
W - Woods, Tiger. He won again. Yawn. Though he didn't take the lead until Sunday, it was never really in doubt that he would win it in the end. That's seven PGA wins in a row. The guy is ridiculously, sickeningly good. You could argue that he's a good bet at even money, even though he's in 100+ man fields.
X - Xavier. Big week for this column's mascots. They had two huge conference games and they won them both in blowouts. They are now 5-2 in conference and firmly entrenched near the top of a very tight Atlantic-10 battle. (P.S. - why are there 14 teams in the Atlantic 10? Even the 11 teams in the Big Ten don't think that makes sense.)
Y - Yikes. Imagine looking in your rear-view mirror and seeing Shaq chasing you. The part-time cop and part-time center followed a hit-and-run driver until he stopped and then approached the vehicle and kept the driver in place until the cops came. If the big man was as interested in basketball as he is in being a cop these days then the Heat would really be dangerous.
Z - Zero. In the last eight games the Colts haven't had a single game with zero turnovers. The Bears have had three. By itself that probably doesn't mean much, but I'd bet that turnovers are likely going to play a very big role on Sunday.