Friday, February 26, 2010

Degenerate Friday!! NCAA Tourney

A couple quick hits before this week’s gambling tip. First, the most dangerous thing in New York right now? Trees. Another N’oreaster storm hit the city yesterday (and today), with a ton of wet, heavy snow which sticks to the tree branches and creates a really pretty winter wonderland scene in Central Park. Really pretty until those branches can’t handle the weight of the snow and start crashing down. One of those falling branches hit and killed a guy yesterday. I can’t think of too many worse ways to go – that’s brutal.


Supposedly there is a feud between US Olympic skiiers Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso and it boiled over when Vonn crashed on her run earlier this week. The crash caused them to restart Mancuso’s run (which had started while Vonn was still on the course), and she had to rerun after waiting for the rest of the field to run and the course conditions deteriorated. Mancuso also made some comments in Sports Illustrated about how the team is struggling because everyone is struggling for attention and that Vonn was basically being a diva. Are we really surprised that Mancuso would feel some jealousy toward her teammate who didn’t win medals in Torino in 2006 yet snagged an SI cover photo, was part of the swimsuit issue and then snared all the headlines with her shin injury drama? That attention turns into endorsements, which means money. And for Olympic athletes (other than the pros in basketball or hockey), making a name for themselves and getting endorsements is their best chance to rake in the dough.

Mancuso has been very successful – two silvers in this year’s games, and another chance hurt by Vonn’s fall – and she is also very talented in the beauty department. And so maybe hinting at a catfight is a ploy to get some attention turned on her as well as Lindsey. Personally? I’m a fan of Mancuso over Vonn. Vonn is a fame-monger and a drama queen who seems to share the same attitude of Bode Miller, whom I have very little respect for.


I thought about just rerunning last week’s degenerate column and pick the USA to win the gold medal game this weekend. Yet I actually think the US team will have a tough time beating Finland in the semifinal round today. It has all of the set up for a let-down game for the US, where they are looking forward to the gold medal game and take the Fins lightly. The loss to the US also served as a wake-up call for the Canadians who took out their frustration on the Russians and will be ready for whoever makes the final game. Look for the Canadians to win the hockey gold to go with their golds in men’s and women’s curling. Although the Canadians haven’t owned the podium like they claimed they would, if they win hockey and curling gold, they can at least know that their position in the world is secure.

Speaking of curling, there is quite a bit of buzz around the captain of the women’s team, Cheryl Bernard. The 43 year old cougar has taken the country by storm and said she can’t even go to the grocery store without being mobbed for autographs.


Finally, let’s get to the gambling!! This week, let’s take a look at the odds to win the NCAA tournament, as selection Sunday is March 14th – only 2 weeks away. Since many employers may block the links to bodog, here’s a quick list of the odds for some of the favorites:

Kansas – 2/1
Kentucky – 4/1
Syracuse – 5/1
Villanova – 8/1
Texas – 13/1
Duke – 14/1
Purdue – 15/1
Ohio State – 15/1
Michigan State – 18/1
West Virginia – 18/1
Kansas State – 25/1
Georgetown – 32/1
Wisconsin – 45/1
Tennessee – 50/1
California – 60/1

If we are going to place some hard earned bling down on a team – even if it is previous gambling winnings, you worked hard to pick that win – we want it to be the best value. Therefore, getting less than 5/1 odds is not attractive. Kansas and Kentucky get eliminated. The next requirement is that the team has to have the ability to win and it would not be a huge shocker to see them cutting down the nets. That takes out Duke, Kansas State and West Virginia. And finally, they can’t play in a conference that resembles a toilet bowl – full of turds. That takes out California and really, any team west of the Rocky Mountains (BYU & New Mexico). Let’s look at the best bets among the favorites , the pick, and the best long-shot value.

Quick Aside – before this week’s games, Purdue would have been my pick. They have a veteran point guard (Chris Kramer – Purdue always has these junkyard dog guys – Kramer, Brian Cardinal, Matt Painter), dynamic scorer (E’Twaun Moore), big man (JuJuan Johnson), shooter (Robbie Hummel), bench scoring (Keaton Grant) and defense tighter than the Hannah Storm’s outfits on ESPN. (ESPN can’t suspend me like they did with Tony Kornheiser, right? I’m allowed to say that I’m all for Hannah and her hooker boots and that Chris Berman is a fat, arrogant blowhard. I can say that, right?) Losing Hummel for the season to an ACL injury changes all of that – he was their all-around guy, who rebounded well and defended well in addition to his shooting. If Coach Painter can rally his guys, they still have the talent to make noise, but I don’t see them getting past the sweet 16.

The Favorite

Villanova (8/1)
Jay Wright’s Wildcats have the talent and depth to win the title. They have the veteran guard play with Scottie Reynolds to keep the team under control, which I think separates them from a team like Kentucky, who may have more talent from top to bottom. ESPN is currently running a promo for their gameday this weekend and a special on Villanova and “why Scottie Reynolds chose to come back for his senior year” – is this really a question? The reason he came back was that he is destined to be the next Troy Bell or Shawn Respert!! A prolific scoring guard in college that is not big enough to play shooting guard at the next level and not a good enough ball handler or passer to make the shift to point guard. But he is built perfectly to get hot in the tournament and lead his team to the championship. Shooting guard Corey Stokes was busted for public urination last week which may affect his status for the game against Syracuse, but shouldn’t affect the team long term. Kind of like when Hildo was busted for public urination ON Science Hall in Madison – it affected our trip to Qdoba (at that time named Z-Teca?), but didn’t affect our drinking the next night.

The Long Shot

Georgetown (32/1)
They have many of the key elements that it takes to win the title: disciplined coach, strong defense, and a big man that can take over games and get his own shot in Greg Monroe. Add to it the tough schedule they have played going through the Big East and their non-conference destruction of Duke, and you have a team that is very capable of holding up the trophy in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The key for the Hoyas may be how they finish the season and the seeding they get because while they have some marquee wins like Duke and Villanova, they have some bad losses like South Florida and Rutgers. They lack a consistent threat from the outside, which causes them to have scoring droughts and keeps lesser teams in the game.

The Pick

Ohio State (15/1)
They offer the best value, play strong defense, have a serviceable big man (Dallas Lauderdale), a shooter (Jon Diebler), and the best player in the game in Evan Turner. The biggest chink in their armor is that they don’t have the depth of a team like Kansas. The runner-up for this pick was Michigan State, who has the depth, defense and coach. But the defining factor was Evan Turner is tremendously better than Kalin Lucas when you match up the star players. My other fear about the Buckeyes is that they are pulling a Lindsay Lohan and have peaked a little too early (meaning: right now), so there is a fear that by the time the tourney rolls around, the Buckeyes will have transformed from young, hot Lindsay to the drug-addled, cutting scarred, sun-damaged Lindsay trying to rely on her cleavage (her Evan Turner) to carry her. Wow, I’m rethinking my pick after typing that sentence, as I don’t really want to be betting on Lindsay Lohan. Yet, I’m going to stick with my pick because I see Ohio State more like Gwen Stefani, who we thought peaked as a part of No Doubt, but has actually become stronger and can carry a concert by herself. And while she still has her Evan Turner (her abs) to carry her, the rest of her has come along very nicely.

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