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Sunday, July 08, 2007

From "Tar Heels Top Futures Board"


Tar Heels top futures board
07/03/2007 08:09 AM
By: Chance Harper |

Though most fans are just now getting into gear for the upcoming college and pro gridiron season, NCAA hoops is off and running on futures boards across the land. The Florida Gators will be hard-pressed to three-peat after losing the bulk of their double championship squad while the North Carolina Tar Heels are picked as the team most likely to succeed them.

Now that the NBA draft has thinned the ranks a bit, college basketball futures bettors have a sharper view of the impending 2007-08 handicapping landscape. Of course, the guys who make the lines have done their homework, too.

Last March, a season after the NCAA tournament saw a two-seed, a three, a four and a real longshot in an 11 seed (George Mason) make the Final Four, the final weekend of the 2006-07 college basketball season revolved around two number one seeds and two number twos. The Florida Gators, the defending and eventual champs last season, began the campaign as the favorites on NCAA championship betting boards at right around 6/1. The Ohio State Buckeyes, the eventual runner-ups, began their trek to the finals as 12/1 shots to win it all.

The UCLA Bruins, the runner-ups of the previous season, started out at 15/1 to win the title. And the Georgetown Hoyas, while a surprise to some to reach the Final Four, nonetheless began last season as 18/1 picks to win the championship. So each Final Four team was listed among the top ten oddsmakers' choices to win the NCAA title before last season started.

The landscape has changed a little, though, over these recent few months. Florida is now minus all the key figures -- Except their head coach -- that powered the Gators to back-to-back national championships. Coach Billy Donovan is back after flirting with the NBA, and he welcomes in a top-notch batch of recruits. But Florida is listed at right around 75/1 to win its third consecutive NCAA title, and for good reason; it'll be damn hard to do.

Ohio State got almost everything it could out of its one season with Greg Oden and Mike Conley. But last week that potent combo went No. 1 and No. 4 in the NBA draft. Now the Buckeyes go on, with another young but very talented team. But this year OSU is listed at upwards of 50/1 to win the national title.

UCLA and Georgetown are given the best chances by the oddsmakers of winning the championship among last season's Final Four teams. The Bruins, sans team leader Arron Afflalo but with super-quick guard Darren Collison back, are listed right near the top of most championship betting boards at about 7/1. And the Hoyas, with everybody but Jeff Green back, are posted at about 10/1 to win it all this season.

The North Carolina Tar Heels top most championship betting boards at odds of around 5/1. UNC lost a good one in Brandan Wright, who left for the NBA after just his freshman season. But with Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson (pictured) back, this may be the most talented team in the land.

The Louisville Cardinals, a Final Four team three seasons ago, are listed at about 10/1 to win it all this season. The 'Ville has got the horses, and a jockey who knows how to ride 'em. This team, if it can avoid the injury bug that's bitten it the last couple of years, is a favorite to win the Big East and looms as very capable of making a run late into March.

The Memphis Tigers have gone 66-8 the last two seasons combined. Unfortunately, two of those losses have come in regional finals. This year, Memphis returns almost everybody, and is an early choice to top the polls when November rolls around. At the moment, the Tigers are listed at about 9/1 to win the national title this season.

Others listed in the upper reaches of NCAA men’s basketball championship betting boards include the Kansas Jayhawks at 12/1 and the Duke Blue Devils at 15/1. In the 20/1 range are the Syracuse Orangemen, USC Trojans and Kentucky Wildcats. And the Michigan State Spartans, Indiana Hoosiers, Arizona Wildcats, Stanford Cardinal and Tennessee Volunteers are proffered at right around 25/1.

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