Just because we are down to the Sweet 16 doesn’t mean your NCAA Tournament prop options have dried up. If anything, now it’s easier to get a read on which teams look like they will make a run to the Final Four in Indianapolis.
I am sure many of your brackets are ruined with Kansas out, and it seems rather unlikely many bettors will take a flier on Michigan State now that star point guard Kalin Lucas, the team’s best ball-handler and leader, not to mention leading MSU in points, assists, minutes, field goals made and field goals attempted this year is done for the rest of the tournament with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.
Let’s take a look at the BetUS odds to meet in the NCAA final and find the best value. Here are the top five favorites and the only bets available under +1000:
Kentucky vs. Syracuse +325
Kentucky vs. Kansas State: +500
Kentucky vs. Ohio State: +600
Duke vs. Syracuse: +700
West Virginia vs. Syracuse: +800
Obviously there is little surprise here considering that most consider Kentucky the top overall seed left and that Duke and Syracuse are the other No. 1 seeds remaining. Kansas State, Ohio State and West Virginia are the only No. 2 seeds remaining.
I do want to say that Ohio State seems to have great value remaining. The Buckeyes have the best player in the tournament in Evan Turner, but they also have yet to really play anyone (not a big Georgia Tech fan). But OSU seems to benefit most from the double-whammy in the Midwest Region of Kansas getting knocked out and Michigan State’s star also out. I have little doubt that OSU, which has lost only once in the past 16 games, reaches the Final Four by beating Tennessee and then the Northern Iowa/MSU winner.
If the Buckeyes reach Indianapolis, you would have to expect a pretty large contingent of OSU fans there, so I would take them against any of the four teams out of the West, although most expect that team to beat either Syracuse or Kansas State. And who knows if the top-seeded Orange even beat Butler this weekend without center Arinze Onuaku. Wouldn’t it be something to see Ohio State and Butler in the Final Four in Indy – that would be a crazy crowd. Pencil the Buckeyes into the national championship game because they are simply playing better than anyone they would face until then (except for Butler, but the Bulldogs are a long shot to potentially beat No. 1 Syracuse and then No. 2 Kansas State in the span of 48 hours).
So let’s take a look at the other props involving a national title matchup that features Ohio State from BetUS:
Duke vs. Ohio State: +1200
West Virginia vs. Ohio State: +1500
Baylor vs. Ohio State: +4000
Purdue vs. Ohio State: +10000
Saint Mary’s vs. Ohio State: +10000
Washington vs. Ohio State: +10000
Cornell vs. Ohio State: +12000
As good as a story as Cornell has been and has good as the Big Red have looked, they aren’t going to beat Kentucky on Thursday despite playing about an hour from campus in Syracuse. And Washington won’t beat both West Virginia and Kentucky this weekend. I love the way WVU, winner of eight in a row, is playing right now, and it has the athletes to disrupt inexperienced Kentucky. So take West Virginia to advance out of the East.
In the South, it looks like it’s Duke’s bracket to lose. Purdue was fortunate to beat Texas A&M in the Round of 32, but not having Robbie Hummel against the Duke trio of Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith will cost the Boilers in the Sweet 16. Baylor should be able to handle Saint Mary’s on the other side, especially with the game in Houston. So a Duke-Baylor in the South Final, with the Blue Devils winning a close game and beating a seed higher than No. 5 for the first time since 2001.
That leaves a Duke-West Virginia Final Four on the other side of the bracket. And the Dukies just don’t have the quality wins that WVU does. Sure, the Big East might have been a tad overrated, but the ACC is just plain lousy this year with only Duke in the Sweet 16. Bob Huggins reaches his first title game and will face Ohio State (that’s +1500 if the matchup hits) – a rematch of a Jan. 23 game in Morgantown that WVU won 71-65. That so happens to be the last time the Buckeyes lost.