With the NCAA tournament roughly five weeks away, it’s not a bad time to size up some tasty long shots at Wynn Las Vegas that should at least make it to the Dance.
Connecticut: The Huskies, a long shot? Obviously UConn is a title contender as the current No. 1 team in the nation. But, when a top ranked team is listed 10-1, it qualifies as a good buy.
Florida: At 80-1, the Gators have stormed to the top of the SEC ahead of preseason choice Tennessee. Plus Billy Donovan has slickly coached the Gators to two national titles.
UCLA: The Bruins have gotten over the graduation of Kevin Love and are playing as well as anyone in the nation right now. At 25-1, UCLA may be the best in the West.
Marquette: This Marquette bunch may be better than the Dwyane Wade Final Four team. I wish they were still called the Warriors, but at 50-1 I’ll go with any name.
Butler: Simply the best team in the state of Indiana. Oh, how that must hurt the Hoosiers. At 100-1, who wouldn’t invest $5 on Butler?
Washington: Any team that can beat UCLA, has to be legitimate. To see the Huskies at 175-1 makes a wager a no-brainer.
LSU: The Tigers are a big surprise in the SEC. At 200-1, you are at least assured of a bid. And, probably no worse than a 6 seed.
Dayton: The Flyers aren’t going to get much love in the Atlantic 10, but at 21-3 they need to be considered in the Dance. Especially at 175-1.
Kansas: The Jayhawks took heavy losses from their national title team, but they are unbeaten in the Big 12. At 100-1, that will work.
Memphis: Last year’s national runnerup is 14-0 since freshman point guard Tyreke Evans became a starter. Not bad for a 125-1 shot.
Xavier: The other 20-win team in the Atlantic 10 along with 175-1 Dayton. The X-Men are just 60-1, but still carries a nice price.
Now to this week:
Tuesday, Feb. 10
Florida at Kentucky: A crossroads game for the Wildcats, who have lost their last three after winning 16 of 18. Florida is also on a downer, losing by 16 at Tennessee. The stats say this should go down to the wire, but sense Kentucky has had this game circled on the calendar. KENTUCKY.
Indiana at Minnesota: I can’t believe I’m saying this but Indiana is a disgrace – last in the Big Ten plus one. Minnesota held Illinois to 36 points at home. The Gophers will be giving double-digits to IU. I still can’t believe I’m saying that. MINNY.
Wednesday, Feb. 11
North Carolina at Duke: Since the loss to Wake Forest, UNC has won seven straight with six coming by double-digits. Duke is looking vulnerable even at Cameron after Clemson and Miami. We see the Heels as a 2 to 4 point favorite. We’ll give them. UNC.
Syracuse at UConn: No exCuse for just how bad the Orange have looked on the road against the Big East elite. Try a 17-point setback at Villanova, an 18-point loss at Pitt and a 14-point loss at Georgetown. Syracuse got 9 at Pitt. Now facing No. 1 ranked UConn, the line could be 12 or higher. Still only one way to look. CONNECTICUT.
Thursday, Feb. 12
Gonzaga at St. Mary’s: We hope St. Mary’s will go to school and watch the films of how Memphis made the Zags look slow. Gonzaga won the first matchup by 7 and may be giving close to that on the road. ST. MARY’S.
Saturday, Feb. 14
Colorado St at UNLV: If ever there was a revenge factor, this is it. The Rebels took all kinds of grief for allowing Colorado State to snap its 19-game winless streak in Mountain West play. Only thing is UNLV may be laying 17 or more. Still the heat will be on for a blowout. UNLV.
St. John’s at Marquette: After the stunning loss at South Florida and the heavyweight bout with Nova, it’s time for a lightweight. We would even give 20 points here to this Big East cupcake. MARQUETTE.
Sunday, Feb. 15
UNC at Miami, FL: The Tar Heels are likely to be favored from 11 and 14 points. If UNC has a Duke hangover, then trouble. The Canes whipped Wake Forest and barely lost to Duke. MIAMI.