Sports Notes - March 25, 2008

March 25, 2008 6:00 PM
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RED SOX NATION REACHES TOKYO

It’s not your standard major league baseball opener, but for Dice K this is ideal.

Daisuke Matsuzaka starts for the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox against Joe Blanton in the season opener Tuesday (3:05 a.m. PT, ESPN 2) with the Oakland A’s for the first of a two-game series in Tokyo, Japan. Game 2 is Wednesday at 3:05 a.m. (ESPN 2) with Jon Lester facing A’s righty Rich Harden.

In addition to Matsuzaka, the Sox also have Japanese reliever Hideki Okajima on the staff. Boston played exhibition games against the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants prior to the opener. The Hilton lists Boston a 9-2 favorite to repeat as world champs. Oakland is a distant 100-1.

YOU COULD HAVE HAD NOVA AT 500-1!

The four No. 1 seeds are part of the Sweet 16, but the Madness has contributed a few longshots for bettors to chew on as the NCAA basketball tourney enters its second week.

If you thought about taking Scottie Reynolds-led Villanova or West Virginia before last Thursday and didn’t, shame on you! Nova went down from 500-1 to 100-1 at the Las Vegas Hilton. West Virginia opened at 200-1, but dropped to 30-1. Western Kentucky is 200-1 after being part of "the field" last week at 35-1. Kansas is the 5-2 favorite.

Regarding individual matchups, the favorites still hold a 29-19 edge against the spread (60.4 percent) after a 13-3 start. See the Road To San Antonio column (directly below) for Vegas sports books reaction. (Complete Sweet 16 odds, p 14).