I was looking over the odds to win the NCAA championship (at Sportsbook.com), and thought I'd see if I could find a few long shots to win the tournament. It's a little comical going down the list because there are so many teams paying enormous odds.
Gonzaga, for example, is 75-1. Bookies aren't fools, though.
They offer the huge payouts because the likelihood of one of these teams winning is far worse. I'd love to get 500-1, but Northwestern simply isn't going to rattle off six in a row in March. There were, however, a few bets; none of which I would call true "long shots" that are giving pretty good odds that have a legitimate chance to win it.
I'll say, for the record, that I think that this is the year that Calipari wins his first title, as I think that Kentucky is the best team in college basketball. Kentucky is a 2-1 favorite, which doesn't seem like very good odds, but may be pretty close to accurate. If Kentucky made a run at it and got to the Final Four, you could certainly try and hedge your bet at that point, already having 2-1 on the Wildcats. Still, taking Kentucky against the field at only 2-1 is a tough proposition.
So what are some other reasonable wagers?
Georgetown at 25-1 seems like a pretty good bet to me. They are currently number 10 in the nation and have only one loss outside of conference play. The Big East may not be as good as it's been in recent years, but it's still one of the toughest conferences in the country, and with a halfway decent draw, Georgetown could certainly make some noise.
Michigan State at 12-1 is another decent play. The Big Ten is the premiere conference this year and Michigan State has posted a 10-3 record in conference play. They are currently number seven in the country, and let's be honest; doesn't Tom Izzo make the Final Four like every year?
North Carolina and Syracuse are both 8-1. Carolina has underachieved this year. They certainly have the talent to win it all, but have yet to put it all together this season. In the UNC-Duke rivalry, I'm a Carolina guy, but to date they haven't made me believe they're going to win it all this year. I'd stay away from them, even at 8-1. Syracuse, on the other hand, is a more intriguing play. Their only loss this season was on the road to a solid Notre Dame team. No team goes undefeated anymore, especially not in a conference as competitive as the Big East. Earlier in the season, Syracuse looked pretty unbeatable. They have been a bit more vulnerable of late, with very close victories at home against West Virginia and Georgetown, and with just a one-point road win at Louisville. Still, Syracuse has been impressive, and if they can rebound the ball, they can beat anyone in the country. They're a virtual lock for a one seed, so should be positioned for a deep run. I'll take 8-1 on the Orange.
The last bet I like is a Missouri team, who is also 8-1 to win it all. Missouri is for real this year, losing only two games (both in conference), and currently ranked third in the nation. Since losing at Oklahoma State on January 25th, Missouri has rattled off seven wins in a row, beating Texas and Oklahoma on the road, as well as number eight ranked Kansas and number six ranked Baylor. Missouri has great guards, and can hit free throws down the stretch; something that can be extremely important at the end of tight games.
All of these futures wagers are tough to predict, especially because the bracket you draw plays such a big role. But at this point in the season, these are a few of the bets I like. Georgetown's 25-1 looks the most attractive, but my favorite bet would be Missouri at 8-1.
[Editor's note: This post is by John Trifone (@JohnnyT0122), who also contributes at our NFL site: Eat, Drink and Sleep Football (see John's archives).]