TheSportsNotebook.com’s college basketball coverage has gone in-depth on each regional individually, made a Final Four pick in each one and included some examination of the betting odds on each team to reach Atlanta. In this post, we pull it all together—to make a final national championship selection, to review the betting odds for winning the whole thing and to coalesce my varied pieces of bad betting advice and put it into a cohesive strategy.
Let’s briefly review the choices made on each regional, with a link to the complete article…
Best Bet: Cal (60-1 to reach Final Four)
Best Bet: Michigan (5-1), Georgetown (4-1)
Best Bet: Duke (3-1)
Pick: Notre Dame
Best Bet: Notre Dame (25-1), hedge with Gonzaga (9-4) & Ohio State (5-2)
PROJECTED FINAL FOUR
Duke vs. Notre Dame
Michigan vs. Miami
These are each epic rematches on anniversary years. Duke-Notre Dame was a Final Four battle back in 1978, as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of what was then a Cinderella story out of Durham and Digger Phelps’ first and only Final Four (Duke won, then lost to Kentucky on Monday night). And Michigan-Miami? This is the 25th anniversary of the wild 31-30 football game won by the Hurricanes in 1978 when Jimmy Johnson was coaching Miami and Bo Schembecler prowled the sideline in Ann Arbor. Okay, maybe I pushed it with that one.
It’s not that I’m a huge believe in ACC strength this year. I think both the Big East and Big Ten are better conferences, but there’s nothing saying an average conference can’t have two teams that are very good and have things going well at the right time. Miami rediscovered its mojo in the conference tournament. Duke’s got Ryan Kelly back into the flow and is now a much tougher team to match up with for opposing frontcourts. The Hurricanes are brutal to match up with, period. I’ll take a Duke-Miami battle on Monday night.
I’m pretty torn on this one, but TheSportsNotebook was saying Miami had national championship talent even before it was trendy to do so. I kept them on my short list of title possibilities even when the struggled in the dog days of ACC play. The ‘Canes just have a very complete team and they’re well-coached. I’ll pick them to cut down the nets on Monday night in Atlanta, a win that paves the way for their home city to sweep the Final Four and NBA Finals for the first time since the city of Detroit turned the trick in 1989.
Louisville is a pretty solid favorite to win the national championship, with odds of 9-2. Indiana is at 7-1, a healthy number if you like the Hoosiers as much as a lot of observers do. Duke, Florida and Miami are all at 8-1, followed by Kansas at 10-1. That’s a lot of respected for third-seeded Florida, who is also the betting favorite to win the South Regional. Meanwhile, Gonzaga gets 12-1 odds. Ohio State comes in at 15-1, followed by the trio of Georgetown, Michigan, Michigan State at 18-1.
My own preference with these numbers would be to bet both Duke and Miami, and also include Indiana. For regular readers who know I knock the Hoosiers’ defense, let me explain—I feel like if you can get a team that has this much respect nationally, that just won it’s conference title and is a top-heavy betting favorite to reach the Final Four, it’s worth taking them at 7-1. I’m frankly surprised the price is this high. But if you do the Duke, Miami and Indiana strategy and bet equal amounts on all three, you can make a profit so long as one of them wins.
TheSportsNotebook believes in full disclosure, so we’ll be tracking picks and betting results as we preview and recap games throughout the NCAAs in our daily sports coverage. Let the Madness get underway.