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March Madness Betting – Kentucky, North Carolina Still Favored To Cut Down The Nets

Posted by Washington Tucker on 2/1/2012 10:46:54 AM

The sports betting landscape for March Madness hasn’t changed much since the preseason as Kentucky and North Carolina were favored before they hit the court, and they’re still on top. But there are a few teams that have moved up the rankings as we move into the stretch run of the regular season. 

The Favorites

Kentucky (+300) comes in as the favorites, and we haven’t even seen their best basketball yet, although we got a glimpse of how incredible their defense is in a 73-72 win at home over North Carolina (+350) on December 3rd. They’re extremely long and active, and Anthony Davis is probably the best defensive player in the country (some are saying National Player of the Year). The offense still needs work and Marquis Teague is improving at the point, but their defense will always keep them in games. The Tar Heels are the opposite in that they can usually score, but if they’re not hitting their shots they can be frustrated, which we saw when they were blown out at Florida State on January 14th. Harrison Barnes isn’t the breakout player that we all thought he would be, although he’s still very good. The difference maker is John Henson, who is as long as Davis (who blocked Henson’s potential game-winner when the two met) and is the key to their defense, especially with Dexter Strickland on the sidelines with an ACL injury.

Next is Duke (+450), Syracuse (+500) and Ohio State (+500), and the Blue Devils may be a little overrated. They’re still not strong in the post and are depending on guards Austin Rivers and Seth Curry to share the ball, which doesn’t always happen. The Buckeyes haven’t been that dominant outside of Columbus (the same goes for Duke, but even they fell at Cameron), and Jared Sullinger hasn’t looked the same since he suffered a back injury. The Orangemen may be the best team outside of this trio, but how long will center Fab Melo be out due to academic issues? The 2-3 zone hasn’t looked as good without him.

The Second Tier

Some thought Kansas (+800) was overrated by NCAA basketball betting odds coming into the season, but the Jayhawks have managed to surge to the top of the Big 12, and Thomas Robinson has propelled himself into the National Player of the Year conversation. They’re a well-rounded team with veteran leadership, but they’ve lost to Duke and Kentucky, so they’re not quite there yet. Missouri (+1600) and Baylor (+1800) are trying to chase down the Jayhawks in the Big 12, and the Tigers’ uptempo style can cause problems for a lot of teams on the national stage. They may make up for their lack of size by pushing the pace at both ends of the floor. Back-to-back losses to Kansas and Missouri have soured some on the Bears, but in Perry Jones III, they may have the most naturally talented player in the country. The problem is, he never has the pedal all the way to the floor.

Connecticut (+1500) and Michigan State (+1800) are two national powers that will need a couple breaks in order to make it through the Tournament, and even though Kemba Walker left, the Huskies still have Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier. The key will be Andre Drummond, who was touted as the best big man in the country before the season started, but he hasn’t controlled a game yet; UConn will need him to pick it up down the stretch. The Spartans fell to North Carolina and Duke in their first two games and that seems to have toughened Michigan State, who hasn’t lost at home yet. Do you want to be the college basketball betting player that wagers against a Tom Izzo-coached team?

The Longshots

Florida (+2500) and Wisconsin (+3300) can make some noise in the Tournament, and any time a team has a veteran backcourt, they have a chance, which is what the Gators have in Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker, although Bradley Beal may be the best pure scorer on the team. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan knows what type of basketball he likes to play, which is slow and deliberate, and his players but into the system, which you can’t stress enough come Tournament time. You need the players to trust the coach and his staff (and vice versa), and if the Badgers can snag a good seed, they can definitely knock off some higher-profile teams.

Of course, the beauty of the NCAA Tournament are the longshots that emerge as March Madness unfolds, so be sure to do your homework throughout the conference tournaments before making your online betting picks!


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