Monday, November 26, 2007

The oddsmakers

Unlike the NFL, which stages a concert of some sort, the college basketball season begins without too much fanfare. Sure, there's Midnight Madness, if you want to get excited about practice time. But the games themselves sort of happen before you realize it.

Here in Las Vegas, college basketball became a known quantity about a week ago, when the sports books started printing out the championship odds of 80 different teams. This is their top 16 (numbers provided are for entertainment purposes only, blah blah blah I'm not your bookie):

UCLA 4/1
Memphis 9/2
UNC 5/1
Kansas 7/1
Louisville 10/1
Tennessee 12/1
Georgetown 12/1
Michigan State 12/1
Indiana 15/1
Duke 15/1
Arizona 20/1
Washington State 22/1
Kentucky 25/1
Syracuse 28/1
Arkansas 30/1
Stanford 30/1

In case you're wondering, Florida's threepeat odds stand at 75/1, the same odds as preseason NIT champ Texas A&M and finalist Ohio State. Other notables: USC 45/1, Kansas State 100/1, Butler 150/1, Davidson 250/1, Missouri 500/1, and Winthrop on the board at 1000/1. Local teams Nevada and UNLV are 250/1.

The end of the preseason tournaments marks a good time to shake up the seedings. With 41 teams still undefeated, it seems silly for now to include anyone with a loss.

South Regional (Houston)
01. Memphis: Sitting pretty so far at 5-0.
Georgetown: Three steady double-digit wins so far.
09. Wisconsin: #1 in the Pomeroy statistical rankings.
16. Duke: Earned their way in with Maui title.

West Regional (Phoenix)
02. UCLA: Howland's defense is killing opponents.
Butler: Champs of Alaska Shootout are for real.
10. Texas: Stomped a more experienced Vols team.
15. Clemson: Beat the mighty Gardner-Webb.

Midwest Regional (Detroit)
03. Kansas: Won tough early matchup against Arizona.
Washington State: Don't get tested until Gonzaga.
11. Miami: Puerto Rico champs no longer understaffed.
14. Duquesne: After last season's horror, a feel-good story.

East Regional (Charlotte)
04. UNC: Low-scoring but nice wins against Davidson, BYU.
Texas A&M: Billy who? NIT champs look mighty strong.
12. New Mexico: Mountain West, represent!
13. Southern Illinois: So far, as good as we expected.

Also considered: the other 25 undefeated teams.

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