College Hoops Reality Check



By Kelso Sturgeon

There is nothing more misleading in the evaluation of college basketball teams than the enthusiastic and ignorant gibberish put forth daily by 90% of those so-called media experts who have kidnapped the right to serve as the nation’s authority on this subject. Listen to them at your own risk.
One who handicaps knows the media is the publicity arm of the major basketball conferences. Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State, North Carolina, Kansas, Georgetown and will always be on the front burner. There is no room for interlopers. Outstanding basketball teams such as Wichita State, UNLV and San Diego State have to force themselves on to the stage and just hope to get a mention once in a while.
In this controlled atmosphere basketball bettors seldom get the bare-bones unembellished truth about basketball teams. It also means that we get an inflated opinion of just how talented the 'name' schools might be and a twisted picture of the talent other teams possess.
Nothing illustrates this more than the long period of time—years—it took for the 'experts' to realize Gonzaga might be something special and even longer to accept the fact fellow West Coast Conference member Saint Mary’s was the real deal. There are those who still can’t believe Northern Iowa went 30-5 last season and eventually lost to Michigan State in the NCAA regional semifinals I mean, how can a corn college from Cedar Falls, Iowa, be this good.
Regards of the facts, the media simply ignores the successes of any school that does not come from a conference named the Big Ten, the Big 12, the ACC, the Big East, the SEC or the PAC-10. If you do not come from one of those conferences you are seemingly forever doomed to be on the outside looking in. As unfair as all of this might be it works in a very positive way for college basketball bettors and we will get to that in just a moment.
Nothing serves up the ignorance of the media than the fact publication, Sporting News, named North Carolina freshman forward Harrison Barnes to its pre-season All-America team before he had ever played a single game. Barnes has all the credentials to be the real deal, but right now he is not even one of the best 10 freshmen in the country, as the 6-8 forward struggles in every aspect of his game.
Right down the road in Durham, freshman point guard Kyrie Irving is coming off a 31-point night in which his 7-0 Duke Blue Devils knocked off Michigan State, 84-79, and up there in Lexington 6-8 freshman forward Terrence Jones leads Kentucky in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 21.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
This certainly is an example of how misled and/or misleading the media can be in molding our thoughts when we try to figure out whether to lay the points, or take them.

College Basketball Ruled By Caste System

It is not a stretch to say college basketball is ruled by a caste system. We have three classes of schools—the elite, the trouble-makers and the orphans. The latter two categories take it to the elites somewhere in the country almost every single night. For instance, last night it was Utah Valley State, an orphan from the lowest-of-the-low Great West Conference, leaving Corvallis with a 70-68 win over Oregon State.
As noted earlier, the caste system works to the benefit of bettors in several ways, including the fact bookmakers play to the public on teams that always get a lot of action and make bettors pay an extra point or three to wager on them. It is no accident Florida is 1-5 against the spread (ATS), that Memphis is 1-4 ATS or that Michigan State is 3-4.
By the same token, it is no accident teams in the trouble-makers and orphans category are beating the number. To name just a few, Belmont is 4-0 ATS, Boise State is 5-0, Missouri State us 6-1, and San Diego State is 5-1against the number.
This is not to suggest outstanding teams such as Duke (7-0 SU, 5-2 ATS) and Kansas (6-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) are not covering, because to this point they have. Expect to start tonight betting into much harder numbers on name teams that are cover. Bookmakers do not run a charity.
I do not mean to be misleading and suggesting one can automatically bet against elite teams because they are over-priced and blindly wager on the trouble-makers and orphans because they are under-rated. I am merely suggesting it is a good starting point to assume the 'haves' are a bit over-rated and the 'have-nots' are a bit under-rated. Such edges are important in a world of points and half-points.

Current Odds To Win NCAA Championship


Here are the official odds from the Green Valley Ranch Casino Sports Book in Henderson, Nevada and my own odds to win the 2010-2011 NCAA basketball championship. I have listed only the leading candidates but most casinos are offering odds on a much longer list.

Team Official Odds My Odds
Duke 7-2 7-2
Kentucky 8-1 15-1
Michigan State 8-1 8-1
Kansas State 10-1 10-1
Kansas 15-1 5-1
North Carolina 18-1 40-1
Texas 20-1 30-1
Villanova 18-1 20-1
Florida 20-1 30-1
Syracuse 20-1 20-1
Baylor 20-1 20-1
Purdue 20-1 30-1
Butler 20-1 40-1
Pittsburgh 20-1 12-1
Illinois 20-1 15-1
Memphis 20-1 30-1
Louisville 30-1 20-1
Tennessee 30-1 40-1
Ohio State 20-1 10-1
Georgetown 30-1 50-1
West Virginia 30-1 60-1
Wisconsin 40-1 100-1
UCLA 35-1 100-1
Connecticut 50-1 15-1
Missouri 60-1 75-1
Arizona 50-1 20-1
Xavier 50-1 150-1
Texas A&M 50-1 50-1
Gonzaga 50-1 200-1
BYU 50-1 100-1
Washington 50-1 150-1
Notre Dame 100-1 60-1
San Diego State 80-1 40-1



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