NCAA Tournament Odds and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 3/14/2011
Looking at the NCAA Tournament odds just minutes after they came out there are a few games that really stand out as surprising or interesting. Here are 10 games that are the most interesting at first glance (NCAA Tournament odds for these games and all others are available from Bookmaker):
Florida (-13) vs. UCSB - Mostly this is a reaction to the Gators. They are easily the most over-ranked team in the tournament in my eyes -- they just are not a No. 2. I don’t think that the Gauchos are a great team, but they are experienced and feisty, and I could easily see Florida come out flat-footed. I don’t see Florida losing, but it could easily be closer than this line suggests.
Utah State (+2) vs. Kansas State - I like the Aggies a lot as a potential upset, so I am happy with this price. If Kansas State plays well then they are a tough team that is probably good enough to win. I just find it almost impossible to trust this team because they struggle with consistency -- something Utah State doesn’t do to the same extent.
Wisconsin (-4.5) vs. Belmont - This, to me, is a sign of the impact that hype can have. Wisconsin is a very good team from a very strong conference. Belmont is a tough team, but one that will struggle with the matchup against the Badgers. Belmont is capable of winning, but Wisconsin is clearly the better team, so there is value here -- more than I would have expected to find.
Long Island (+19) vs. North Carolina - North Carolina is a team that is very good when they want to be, but they aren’t always focused on their goals like they should be. Long Island is a pesky team I have had my eye on for a while. The Tar Heels will win this game, but this line doesn’t give Long Island the respect they deserve.
Washington (-5.5) vs. Georgia - This line is a bit of a joke. Or rather, Georgia is a bit of a joke. Washington isn’t perfect, but they deserve more respect against a very flawed, underwhelming SEC team than this line gives them.
Xavier (-1) vs. Marquette - I’m not totally sold on the Big East this year. There are some very strong teams in the group, but the sheer number of teams is lifting some squads higher than they should be. Marquette is the worst example of that. Xavier is a much better, more seasoned team, and they have by far the best player on the court. This line is a bargain in my eyes.
UNLV (-1.5) vs. Illinois - I’m a Michigan fan, so I watched Illinois’ last game closely. The Wolverines were good early and good late, but they took about 25 minutes off in the middle of the game -- totally hopeless play. When they turned it on, though, the Illini crumbled. Illinois is just not good. UNLV is pretty good. This is a soft line.
Oakland (+9.5) vs. Texas - As a Canadian I love that the Longhorns are led by two fellow Canadians. Still, I find it hard to trust them -- they are talented but a long way from consistent. Oakland is a good team -- older, tough, talented, and experienced. They could pull a huge upset here, and they certainly could keep it closer than this line. That means value.
Richmond (+1.5) vs. Vanderbilt - After already bashing Florida and Georgia you might get the idea that I am unimpressed by the SEC this year. You would be right. Vanderbilt is badly overrated, and I find it hard to accept that they should be favored by a team that won the very tough, very deep A-10.
George Mason (-1.5) vs. Villanova - Villanova is a hot, ugly mess right now. Just terrible. George Mason is very tough, and very hungry. They are well coached, too. It seems odd to think that a Big East team this year wouldn’t be favored over a mid-major, but when that Big East team is as bad as Villanova is and the mid-major is George Mason then the surprise is that the Patriots aren’t favored by more.
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