On, Wisconsin! Badgers finally crack NCAA Final Four

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After seeing the roll Kentucky has gone on, it’s likely a lot of fans are wishing they could have gotten the 40-to-1 odds offered by the LVH Super Book before the NCAA Tournament started, or even the 18-to-1 odds offered before Friday’s Regional Semifinal against Louisville.

A few took a shot with it, but the betting majority still doubted their chances just because they saw many breakdowns from the young team against less talented teams like LSU, Arkansas and South Carolina.

It was easy to be skeptical of Kentucky because of what we saw last year with a bunch of freshman who didn’t make the tournament and then lost their first NIT game to Robert Morris. Coach John Calipari’s one-year plan worked in 2012, but the pitfalls of having so many one-and-done players not jell, such as last year, still resonated large. Plus, Calipari’s checkered past makes him an easy coach to root against.

After a subpar 23-9 regular season, the Wildcats began to jell in the SEC tournament, blowing out LSU and Georgia, before losing in the title game, 61-60, to Florida. They are now battle tested and have run through the toughest gauntlet of any of the final four teams remaining.

UK comes into Saturday’s game against Wisconsin having covered the spread in their past seven games, and have had their rating rapidly raised by the books.

Michigan State numbers throughout the tournament were way over inflated by the sports books, simply because of staying ahead of who the public wanted. And then the public still bet the number higher. The moves were fun to watch. Depending on when the Spartans games were bet, some bettors went 0-3-1 ATS with them in the four tourney games.

Kentucky’s rating has climbed rapidly with each of their wins, but because of the public not necessarily siding with them along the way, they don’t have that premium of laying 2 additional points like we saw with the Spartans.

The Kentucky rating might actually be too cheap considering Calipari’s plan has been extremely successful. We are seeing that his players have turned that corner with bonding and trusting each other as a unit.

Calipari will always have the most talent with size, speed and skill, but unity is another thing, and it’s why we see several smaller less skilled teams loaded with seniors do extremely well.

Kentucky is a 2-point favorite over Wisconsin in Saturday’s Final Four nightcap. You could argue Kentucky should be about -4.5 just because of all their talent jelling perfectly right now. Are they the best team in the country? Maybe Florida, who beat Kentucky three times this year, might have something to say about that. But the Gators know this Wildcats team is now even better than the one losing by just 1-point three weeks ago.

Do you think we all might have underestimated the level of play in the SEC? Two teams in the Final Four is very impressive stuff. If willing to now accept that Kentucky might be the best team, the LVH is offering 5-to-2 odds on them to run the table. If they get Connecticut in the final, that’s not a bad deal.

Books post modest win: “Thursday kept the torch going for us,” said South Point sports book director Bert Osborne about their only big winning day. “Then things leveled off Friday, Saturday and Sunday with one loser and two very small winning days. But overall, I couldn’t be happier about the volume we’ve seen throughout this tournament.”

Nadal French pick: The LVH has odds posted to win the French Open, which begins May 25. Rafael Nadal is the 2-to-3 favorite to win the men’s side, followed by Novak Djokovic (8/5) and then much further down are the co-third choices to win, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka at 15-to-1. Serena Williams is 5-to-4 to win on the women’s side with her toughest challenger figuring to be Victoria Azarenka at 6-to-1.

Aliante’s 5-cent line: The best baseball value in the state is in North Las Vegas, close to the Speedway, at the Aliante Casino sports book. Director Marc Nelson announced he will be offering a 5-cent split up to -135. The 10-cent split has been the norm at most Vegas books, while others have gone to 15 or 20 cents in recent years. In addition to the great value, Nelson will also be offering several daily baseball propositions.

South Point -105 line: The best value in the state for Final Four betting is the SP book’s -105 lines on straight bets. Everywhere else is using the traditional -110 juice attached to the point spread.

Baseball is back: Forget Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania, the start of baseball season is the true American staple that tells us spring is coming.

Best Division battle: The AL East figures to be as tough as ever, and because the Yankees and Red Sox will likely be involved, we’ll have the east coast media cramming it down our throats all season.

The best battle again looks to be in the NL Central. Unlike the AL East last season, the NL Central sent three teams – St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati – to the postseason and it’s likely to happen again.

Seattle biggest Wild Card: After a disappointing 2013 season at 71-91 with an AL-worst .237 team batting average (only the Marlins and Mets worse in MLB), the Mariners went out and picked up 2B Robinson Cano. The M’s have great starting pitching, but the lineup still has plenty of questions to be answered.

Two of the biggest question marks for the offense may have been answered during the spring where SS Brad Miller hit .417 and LF Dustin Ackley .394. If those two can just hit around .275 this season, they’ll be a contender.

The LVH has their season win total at 80.5, and although a 9.5 win increase is large, the AL West figures to be down a little with Oakland, so over the number looks enticing. The LVH is also offering 12-to-1 to win the division, 25-1 to win the AL and 50-1 to win the World Series.

The last time a Super Bowl winner and World Series champ happened the same year was Boston in 2004.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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