Can Canes win it all?
March 22, 2013
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Miami (Fla.) Winning NCAA Title Would Be Book's Worst Result
Top seeds Louisville and Indiana have opened as the 5/1 favorites at Bovada to cut down the nets in Atlanta next month, but the book isn't overly worried about those two as of yet. It is, however, very exposed on the Miami Hurricanes to win the NCAA Tournament.
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UM is the No. 2 seed in the East Region behind Indiana. The Hurricanes are the first team to win the ACC's regular-season and conference tournament titles - both firsts for Miami - and not get a No. 1 seed. Miami is in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in school history and first since 2008. The best run the school has had in the Big Dance was reaching the regional semifinals in 2000. Head coach Jim Larranaga has Final Four experience, taking Cinderella No. 11 seed George Mason to the 2006 national semifinals.
Miami has one of the nation's top guards in Shane Larkin and is one of the most experienced teams in the tournament in that it has five seniors, but no current UM player has played in the NCAA Tournament. The Canes open play Friday against No. 15 Pacific, the Big West champion. Either Illinois or Colorado would be the opponent in the Round of 32.
Currently Miami is 12/1 to win the national title, down from an opening 14/1, and that is the book's top exposure on early betting. It is also exposed on UM at 7/2 to win the East Region as well as NC State, a team Miami beat twice this season, at 18/1. The Wolfpack would likely have to play Indiana in the Round of 32 should NC State beat Temple in their opener.
The book is also exposed on ACC regular-season runner-up Duke at 12/1 to win it all. The veteran Blue Devils had been unbeaten this season with Ryan Kelly on the floor before being surprised 83-74 to Maryland in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. It was the first time Duke lost in that round since 1997, and it cost the Blue Devils a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They have the No. 1 strength of schedule, and the No. 1 spot in the RPI but they are the No. 2 seed in the loaded Midwest Region, which also includes No. 1 overall seed Louisville and No. 3 Michigan State.
Duke opens Friday against America East Tournament champion Albany in Philadelphia. The Creighton-Cincinnati winner would await on Sunday. The book isn't exposed on Duke at 15/4 to win the Midwest or favored Louisville at 11/10. It is on No. 7 Creighton (20/1) and No. 12 Oregon (66/1). The Bluejays certainly could pull an upset of Duke if they get past Cincinnati. Creighton boasts one of the nation's top players in Doug McDermott and leads the country in shooting percentage.
Top-seeded Kansas is easily taking the most action at 3/1 to win the South Region. KU has the advantage of opening play in Kansas City. Assuming they beat No. 16 Western Kentucky on Friday, Kansas could have a date with former coach Roy Williams and No. 8 North Carolina on Sunday in what would easily be the most-hyped third-round game. No. 4 Michigan at 7/1 is taking the second-most action to win the South, followed by UNC at 18/1.
Gonzaga is the No. 1 team in the polls and the top seed in the West Region, but the Zags aren't taking a ton of action at 12/5 to advance to the Final Four. Bettors are leaning heavy out West on Big Ten Tournament champion and No. 2 seed Ohio State at 11/4. The Buckeyes, on an eight-game winning streak, open Friday against Iona. The book is also exposed on No. 3 New Mexico at 5/1 to win the West.
Among the "mid-major" programs, the book is most exposed on Midwest No. 4 Saint Louis at 25/1 to win the national title. The Billikens are the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season and tournament champions. They have won 15 of their past 16 games and beat NCAA Tournament teams Butler three times and VCU twice in that stretch. SLU has a challenging opener Friday against New Mexico State in San Jose and could be looking at a matchup with Louisville in the Sweet 16.
Among the longer shots to win it all, the book is taking solid action on No. 6 UCLA (100/1), No. 7 Notre Dame (100/1) and No. 12 Oregon (300/1). The Bruins' chances of reaching the Final Four took a big hit when arguably their best all-around player, Jordan Adams, broke a bone in his foot in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals. He's out for the year. The freshman guard was second on the team in scoring at 15.3 ppg. UCLA opens Friday against a very athletic Minnesota team in the South Region. The Golden Gophers are the best offensive rebounding team in the country, while UCLA is a poor rebounding team that isn't very deep, especially with Adams' injury.
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