March 16, 2009
"Over the lines" was an occasional feature on Shutdown Corner that looked at point spreads for upcoming NFL games. Though the action for the NCAA tournament is concentrated in bracket pools, there's plenty of interesting lines, prop bets and futures to help you lose even more cash than you already will because you insist on picking your alma mater to go to the Elite Eight. Today, The Dagger looks at a few of these:
-- Teams with a better seed are favored in 29 of the 32 first round games. The three "underdog" favorites: No. 9 Tennessee is a two-point favorite over Oklahoma State, No. 7 USC is getting two points from Boston College and, despite all the objections to their making the tournament, the No. 12 Arizona Wildcats are one-point favorites over No. 5 Utah.
-- North Carolina is the biggest first round favorite, opening up at -27 against Radford. Their rivals, Duke, are giving the next highest total: 22 to Binghamton. (Considering the Blue Devils were almost knocked off in a 2/15 game last year, this is particularly surprising.)
-- Besides Connect Four and not calling women back after the first date, one of my favorite games is to guess the spreads of NFL games to see how close I can get to the actual line. It's a little harder to do in college basketball because the lines are usually wider. But other than a considerable discrepancy between some of the games with lines over 15 points, everything else seemed pretty easy to predict. Marquette only giving four to Utah State was the one I missed the most, but in retrospect, it makes sense with the injury to Dominic James and the fact that Utah State won 30 games.
-- According to prop bets available on Bodog.com, a junior is most likely to win the tournament's most outstanding player award. A senior gets the next best odds, followed by sophomores and freshman, which suggests that college basketball isn't as much of a young man's game as some people think. (Well, relatively speaking.)
-- Individually, Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough get the best odds (7/1) to win the MOP, with Levance Fields (10/1) and a slew of Big East players from Pitt, Louisville and Connecticut (12/1) following. The field gets 13/1.
-- Of the four No. 1 seeds, Connecticut is the most likely to get eliminated first, according to Vegas.
-- Awesomely, you can wager on how many buzzer beaters will occur during the first round. Less awesomely, the odds suggest that the most likely answer is zero.
-- Louisville may be the No. 1 overall seed, but North Carolina is the favorite in Vegas. According to Bodog, here are the odds to win the NCAA tournament for selected teams:
North Carolina -- 5/2
Pittsburgh -- 9/2
Louisville -- 11/2
Connecticut -- 7/1
Memphis -- 7/1
Duke -- 10/1
Michigan State -- 14/1
Oklahoma -- 15/1
Gonzaga -- 20/1
Syracuse -- 20/1
Villanova -- 20/1
Wake Forest -- 25/1
UCLA -- 40/1
Tennessee -- 125/1
Robert Morris -- 1500/1
Zack Morris -- Off