Sunday Elite Eight Games

Syracuse and Wichita State punched their tickets to the Final Four last night and are starting to pack their bags for Atlanta. Today, we’ll find out which two teams will meet them in the national semifinals.

Fortunately, for bettors and fans the week of college basketball concludes with the two biggest games we’ve seen in the tournament thus far. Duke and Louisville will clash in an epic showdown in the Midwest Regional final right after Michigan and Florida duke it out in the South Region. You won’t want to miss these hardcourt battles. Have a Happy Easter and happy betting!

Here’s a look at the match-ups:

(4) Michigan Wolverines+3 vs. (3) Florida Gators -3

Both teams in this match-up have stormed their way through the tourney, but Michigan has endured the far tougher path to this point after making an impressive comeback to defeat No. 1 seed Kansas on Friday. The Wolverines bring in one of the best offenses in the country, whereas the Gators bring in one of the best defenses. As they say, something has to give.

The Wolverines will certainly give Florida a test it hasn’t seen up to this point in the tournament. In fact, Florida has yet to play a team ranked higher than an 11-seed, so we’ll finally get to see what the Gators are made of.

If any team can slow down Michigan’s powerful offensive attack, it’s Florida. However, I’m not sure the Gators will be able to slow it down enough to earn the win. Considering Michigan is the more battle-tested, clutch team at the moment, it’s hard to go against them here. The Gators just haven’t faced much competition yet and they didn’t play particularly well down the stretch in the SEC either, so we can expect a strong team will give them trouble. Take Michigan to cover +3 and earn a spot in the Final Four.

(2) Duke Blue Devils +4 vs. (1) Louisville Cardinals -4

In what is easily the biggest match-up of the tourney so far, Duke will take on No. 1 overall seed Louisville. The Cardinals have looked pretty indestructible up to this point, cruising to wins by eight points or more in each of their previous tournament games. However, with one of the nation’s best coaches, you can bet the Devils will come prepared. The only question is: Does Duke have enough talent to pull off the win?

The answer is probably yes. I actually picked Duke to win the tournament before it began, but after seeing all the action up to this point, I would have to agree with odds makers and say Louisville is the favorite here. Duke is certainly capable of knocking off the Cardinals, but the Devils would have to play their best game of the season today to do it and as we’ve seen so far, they aren’t really playing their best ball at the moment.

Louisville is simply too athletic and fast for Duke, a team that loves to play the halfcourt game. Duke’s style won’t be very successful today against the Cardinals, so take Louisville to cover -4 here.

Syracuse, Wichita State are the First to Punch Final Four Tickets

The Orange's 2-3 zone is a major reason why they are in the Final Four

My guess is that few people thought Syracuse could reach the Final Four this season and I guarantee you even fewer had the Shockers of Wichita State making it either but here they are. What we now know is that two pieces of the Final Four pie are in place. Michigan and Florida will battle in one game today while Louisville and Duke go at it in the other. The winners of each game will complete the Final Four for the 2013 season.

Certainly the Orange have long been a powerhouse under Jim Boeheim and this season they often showed signs of being dominant but they also looked average at times this year too. What is crystal clear right now is that the infamous Syracuse 2-3 zone is stifling opposing offenses to a crushing tune. Yesterday the Orange defeated soon to be former Big East cohort Marquette 55-39 in a game that left Eagles Head Coach Buzz Williams full of praise for the Orange. Williams said his team “tried everything they had” in the loss.

The Orange will now await the winner of the game today between the Gators and the Wolverines.

The Shockers stunned Ohio State with a big first half and then held on.

For the Shockers, we really shouldn’t be too surprised by this team. I think there were many who thought a mid-major could make a serious run this season but how many pegged Wichita State is a whole other matter. WSU is headed to Atlanta following a 74-70 win over 2nd seed Ohio State. The loss ended the Buckeyes win streak at 11 games and the Shockers become the first Missouri Valley Conference team to make the Final Four since Indiana State in 1979. You recall this “Larry Bird guy” playing for the Sycamores back then.

Wichita State has now defeated number one seed Gonzaga and number two seed Ohio State in consecutive games. The task will get no easier as they will get the winner between the Cardinals and Blue Devils in the National Semi-Finals.

Looking ahead to today

1 Louisville vs 2 Duke – Louisville has arguably been the most impressive team of the tournament so far averaging over 80 points per game. In the Sweet 16, they jumped to an early lead and then kept Oregon at bay most of the game leading by ten most of the game. Duke turned in a pretty impressive performance against Michigan State limiting the Spartans to just a handful of field goals in the second half.

The question for me in this game will be can Duke handle the pressure of the Cardinals? Both of these teams have very good guard play which then begs the question of who can get the better of the other in the paint? Duke defeated Louisville 76-71 way back in the early stages of the season but the Cards were without Gorgui Dieng who leads Louisville in rebounding.

As impressed as I was with Duke against Michigan State, I just think Russ Smith is playing too well for the Cards and overall they are too athletic right now for Duke.

#4 Michigan vs #3 Florida – Both of these teams played very intriguing games in the Sweet 16. Michigan roared back behind Trey Burke to defeat top-seeded Kansas in overtime. Florida fell behind early to NCAA Tournament darling Florida Gulf Coast, but the Gators methodically chipped away at the Eagles and let their interior dominance take over.

Wolverines’ freshman Mitch McGary was outstanding against the Jayhawks scoring 25 points but can he handle the strength of the Gators inside? The Gators do not possess a guard as good as Trey Burke but they are deep at the position and can run several guys at them. If Michigan can shoot the three and can keep the Gators frustrated in the half-court offense then they have a shot. The interior defense has troubled them all year and I think it will be their undoing in a tight Florida victory.

Let’s Go Streaking!!!

These ladies have a 49-game unbeaten streak going.

Apparently 2013 is the year of the ‘streak’ in the world of college and professional athletics. Streaking is more than Will Ferrell heading off to the quad in ‘Old School’  because it really does captivate sports fans and even those aren’t nearly as interested. During Miami’s recent 27-game winning streak, ESPN as it usually does, spent enormous amounts of times covering the Heat from every possible angle. Even national news outlets were leading off with the Heat’s streak in their opening news segments.

Streaks captivate us because so many of us have competed in a wide variety of competitions whether they be sports-related or a dance contest or a marching band competition. We all know how hard it can be to win one time let alone numerous times in a row and therefore the competitor in us takes time to comprehend the difficulty of doing it.

Dan Bylsma
Bylsma and the Penguins have won 14-straight.

We know much about streaks in the National Basketball Association where the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets and of course the Miami Heat all had impressive streaks during the current season. In the National Hockey League, the season opened with the amazing run of the Chicago Blackhawks who opened with 24 straight games of not being beaten. Currently, the Pittsburgh Penguins have a 14-game winning streak and have clearly laid claim being the best team in hockey right now and are the Stanley Cup favorites for sure.

Some sports find it clearly harder than others to perform streaks. Think of the individual sports like golf for example. The great Byron Nelson once won 11 straight tournaments. Take a second to fathom that. 11 straight! Tiger Woods wins a couple of tournaments in the same month and we celebrate it as ‘momentous.’

Yes, we can clearly debate ad nauseum the differences in sports and the competition levels and the eras in which they were achieved, but that should not diminish the merit of any streak regardless of the endeavor.

Most people aren’t even aware of the most impressive streak in North American sports right now and that is simply because of the sport it takes place in. The University of Minnesota’s Women’s hockey team recently won their second consecutive national title and extended their winning streak in the process to 49 straight games. Keep in mind this a ‘winning streak’ not an unbeaten streak. That means no ties whatsoever.

Like I said before, I don’t care what sport or event the streak is in, when you throw together that many wins in a row, then you are doing something very right and very well.

Streaks aren’t always skill and talent though. Luck can certainly play a part in streaks as can just pure grittiness. During the Blackhawks streak, they had a couple of very close calls where they were trailing late in games but got goals to push the games into overtime where they’d be victorious.

Miami’s famous moment of course came in Cleveland where they rallied from 27 points down in the second half to win. Probably more talent than anything in this case, but still impressive and another one of those moments where streaks could have easily come to a grinding halt.

Another reason I like streaks is that wagering on or against them can bring some really provocative action. I’d be willing to bet Vegas had better than normal NBA action whenever the Heat were playing during their run. I’m also willing to bet many had Chicago pegged as one of the teams that were potentially going to end the Heat’s streak.

For you, it definitely creates a little more excitement when wagering because who doesn’t want to be the guy holding the betting slip that says, “I called the streak ending and I have the evidence right here!”

Now who’s streaking?

Saturday Elite Eight Games

After a grueling two-week gauntlet, eight teams have emerged as college basketball’s true elite, but only four will be bestowed the honor of cutting down the nets before packing their bags for Atlanta.

Four of the eight squads remaining in the NCAA Tournament will take the floor today and two will advance. Who will keep dancing and who will be sent home? Today we’re taking a look at match-up before the elite eights teams take the court and are, as always, providing our point-spread picks. Check ’em out!

(4) Syracuse Orange -5 vs. (3) Marquette Golden Eagles +5

Against most bettors’ predictions, the East regional final has turned into a Big East rivalry game, as the Syracuse Orange and the Marquette Golden Eagles have advanced to meet each other in the Elite Eight.

Of course, Marquette got the better of the Orange in their only other meeting this season, winning 74-71 back on Feb. 25. However, with the Orange playing their best basketball of the season – coming off a win against many’s favorite to win the whole thing, Indiana – they will have a good chance to avenge that defeat.

After squeaking by in its first two games, Marquette proved it has a powerful knockout punch against two-seed Miami, as it dominated the game from start to finish.

Considering the Eagles are used to playing in close games and considering they’ve already defeated Syracuse this year, there’s no way we can go against them here. Even if Marquette doesn’t win, take it cover +5 today against Syracuse.

(9) Wichita State Shockers +5 at (2) Ohio State Buckeyes -5

The West region of the bracket has been by far the wildest, so it’s a shame that we will see the last game out of the West with the regional final today, but it should be another barn-burner, especially with Wichita State involved.

Another the Shockers might actually know their way around a barn better than the Buckeyes, it’s been Ohio State who has played in more close games during the tournament, as OSU has escaped two defeats in the closing seconds, relying on clutch three-point makes just ticks away from the horn sounding.

The bad news is Ohio State could be in for another close call, but the good news is it is plenty experienced in such situations. It’s been fun to watch Wichita State wade its way through a tough and zany West region, but I’m afraid the buck stops here, not the Buckeye. Take Ohio State to take this one, covering -5.

Bulls Win Over Heat Creates Several Talking Points

Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer
James was clearly frustrated by the aggressiveness of Boozer and the Bulls.

Wednesday night in the Windy City, the Miami Heat saw their 27-game winning streak get snapped by the hometown Chicago Bulls and this game created more far more discussion than just the end of a great run. There are several things to take from this game and how they are applied going forward has meaning not only for the Bulls, the Heat and the NBA itself but also for you as a bettor.

First, the streak must be appreciated regardless of the teams the Heat defeated during the run and regardless of the era in which they did it. Many talking heads have questioned just where this Miami Heat accomplishment lies in the annals of sports history simply because the Eastern Conference is pretty bad.

Look, it’s difficult to win 27-straight whether it’s in the NBA, college basketball or the local church youth league so that needs to be respected. Miami gave NBA fans some great moments along the streak and the fact it was provided by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade makes it that much better for everyone involved.

Secondly, I have to wonder if the Chicago Bulls haven’t provided a blueprint for getting under the Miami Heat’s skin. Ironically earlier in the day, former Detroit Pistons’ ‘Bad Boy’ Bill Laimbeer was on Jay Mohr Sports talking about how the NBA has virtually made it impossible to intimidate and harass teams the way they once did.

This was exactly what the Bulls did on Wednesday night and it was clear that James in particular was not at the top of his game because of it. I wouldn’t say there were any take-downs reminiscent of the old Pistons or mid-1990’s New York Knicks, but it was clear to me that Chicago went into the game with an attitude of aggressiveness and it paid off.

James and the Heat not only lost, but James came off afterward like a spoiled brat who didn’t get his way in the loss. Late in the game of course James apparently had had enough when he lowered his shoulder into Carlos Boozer while Boozer set a screen. Boozer had none of it and immediately jawed at James in the aftermath.

Earlier in the game, James had been taken down on two separate drives to the basket and both were clearly aggressive and intentional shots to keep him from finishing the play, but LeBron needs to stop and think about things before whining afterwards. Much like Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski was panned for whining about crowd control after a loss at Virginia, James should have received equal treatment.

David Stern
I don't see Stern allowing physical play on the Heat for too long.

LeBron must realize that superstars like him will always get the benefit of the doubt on calls. Traveling for instance is nearly non-existent thanks Michael Jordan and any time there is a 50-50 call it always goes the way of the superstar. James can whine all he wants to about the physical play, but he can’t have it both ways.

Or can he?

Let’s face it, do any of us really think David Stern would allow James and company to not play their style of basketball right through to the NBA Finals? The answer is no. Stern has seen what San Antonio-Detroit finals’ match-ups do for ratings.

What the game means for you is looking carefully at lines and over/unders for remaining Heat games. If other teams adopt this mentality of aggressive play against Miami and it flies, then you need to adjust accordingly. Commissioner Stern has already gone through his ‘Roger Goodell period’ of softening the game and he will more than likely not allow the tough fouls on superstars very long. For now though, Miami better be ready hard fouls moving forward.

Friday Sweet 16 Games

College hoops fans and bettors were treated to four incredible Sweet 16 games yesterday and the tournament will provide four more for them today, completing the Elite Eight. Which four teams will advance to play this weekend and which four will fall? Let’s take a look at the match-ups and figure it out.

(12) Oregon Ducks +10.5 at (1) Louisville Cardinals -10.5

The Cardinals have proved why they were named the tournament favorite before all this madness began and they’ll have a significant edge again today in their Sweet 16 match-up against the Ducks.

Oregon has also impressed by winning each of its first two games – which were technically upsets – by double digits, but it hasn’t encountered a team with the type of athleticism that Louisville possesses.

Based on what we’ve seen from each squad in the tourney so far, Oregon should be able to compete, but as a team that turns the ball over too frequently, the Ducks will likely struggle against the ball-hawking Cardinals, who lead the nation in turnovers forced.

The Ducks may fall behind early and if they do, look for the Cardinals to continue to apply the pressure and stretch the lead. Look for Louisville to cover -10.5 in this one.

(4) Michigan Wolverines +2 at (1) Kansas Jayhawks -2

Michigan has passed the eye test with flying colors through its first two games, while the Jayhawks have certainly not looked like a No. 1 seed.

Still, the Jayhawks bring a talented, experienced and more than capable team of winning a title into this match-up with the streaky Wolverines.

Both teams have strong inside games, although the Wolverines found theirs most recently, and both teams also can hit outside shots. Kansas was thought to have the edge defensively, but as we’ve seen during the tournament, Michigan can turn the screws tight on the defensive side of the ball as well.

This game should come down to the wire, but stick with the hotter team and take Michigan to cover +2 in the win.

(3) Michigan State Spartans+2 at (2) Duke Blue Devils -2

Though the match-up above is expected to be extremely close, the hardcourt war between Michigan State and Duke will undoubtedly be the most highly contested game of the day.

Both teams play the inside-out game extremely well, so the game will likely come down to who outshoots the other and who has the least unforced turnovers. Duke has looked a little bit sloppier in its first two games, but it has shot the ball fairly well, while Michigan State has been effective in all areas of the game.

Both teams are very experienced and well-coached, so there likely won’t be any surprises or tricks up the sleeves. Look for Michigan State to barley edge out Duke in what will likely be the closest game of the day. This one might even go to overtime, but take the Spartans to cover +2.

(15) Florida Gulf Coast Eagles +14 at (3) Florida Gators -14

The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles have enjoyed an incredible run and we’ve enjoyed watching them dance their way through the first three rounds of the tournament, but we have to be realistic about their chances in this match-up against the Florida Gators.

With one of the best defenses in the country and an athletic, balanced offensive attack, the Gators will undoubtedly have the upper hand today against the Eagles. Still, based on what we’ve seen from FGCU so far during the tournament, we can reasonably expect it will come out swinging and give its new in-state rivals a good game.

Look for Florida to earn the win, but for Florida Gulf Coast to cover +14 in defeat.


One Month to go in the NHL Regular Season

Sidney Crosby

The National Hockey League’s abbreviated season ends in one month and then the playoffs get cranked up. Even if you’re aren’t a hockey fan, you’d have to concede that there is no better drama in any playoff game in then in a hockey game seven.

Things are already starting to come into focus in terms of who is in line for the playoffs and who isn’t. While there are certainly no guarantees in life or hockey for that matter, I feel pretty good telling you who will qualify for the 2013 NHL Playoffs.

The Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh has won 13 straight games following a 1-0 win over Montreal Tuesday night. They have pushed their lead as the top seed to seven points ahead of second place Boston and Montreal who are tied with 45 points.

Marc-Andre Fleury was caught in collision between two other players near the end of the second period and did not return. I don’t expect him to miss a lot of time if any, but only his or Sidney Crosby’s absence for any length of time would keep the Pens from securing the top seed.

The bottom of the playoff race is less clear as is typically the case in the NHL. Right now, the 8th seed is controlled by the New York Rangers who have a two-point lead over the New York Islanders. Still in play is Carolina (32), Washington (31) and Buffalo (30).

Ahead of the Rangers are the Devils (37) and Maple Leafs (40).

If the playoffs started today, you’d have some intriguing match-ups with Pittsburgh and the Rangers in the one-eight matchup and Boston vs New Jersey in the two-seven.

The Western Conference

After the amazing start by the Chicago Blackhawks, can you believe the Anaheim Ducks are just five points behind in the race for the top seed? While I think Chicago will hang on, because of the better offense, they cannot afford to look past the Ducks.

The bottom of the playoff race is much more muddled. San Jose currently has the eight seed with 34 points. On their heels are the Predators (34), Dallas (33), Columbus (33) and Edmonton (31). The Sharks have won just three times in their last ten games while the Blue Jackets are 6-1-3 over the same stretch. I can easily see this spot changing hands a few more times before the end of April.

Detroit has moved up nicely to the 5th spot and is just three points shy of current third seed Vancouver. The Canucks have won five straight while current 4th seed Minnesota has won six in a row.

If the playoffs started today in the West, Minnesota and Detroit in the four-five match-up would have the potential to be a great seven-game series. The three-six would be an outstanding duel between the Canucks and defending champion Los Angeles.

Games this week in the NHL

NY Islanders at Pittsburgh – The Penguins go for their 14th straight at home against an Islanders’ team that is attempting to catch the Rangers for the 8th seed. I expect Fleury to sit in this one but Tomas Vokoun has played very well of late and I see the streak going at least for one more game here.

NY Rangers at Montreal – In their effort to hang onto a playoff spot, the Rangers travel to Montreal where the Habs are 9-4-3. I like the Rangers to steal a win in Canada.

Chicago at Detroit – One of the great rivalries in hockey returns to Joe Louis Arena where the Wings will host the cooled off Blackhawks. I like Detroit behind solid goal-tending and the little run they appear to be on.

Sweet 16 Thursday Games

The hard-hitting action of the NCAA Tournament returns to the hardcourt today as the Sweet 16 round gets underway with four extraordinary games. Four teams will advance to the Elite Eight and four teams will see their season come to and end. And as always, these games present some excellent betting opportunities, so check our breakdown of each contest and find out who to take on those point spreads.

Marquette Golden Eagles +5 vs. Miami Hurricanes -5

After two rounds in the tournament, the Hurricanes are looking more and more like a legitimate title contender, whereas the Golden Eagles can consider themselves lucky to still be playing at all. Bases on what we’ve seen so far, it would be easy to take the Hurricanes to cover -5, but Marquette has shown a great deal of resilience and ability to keep games close down the stretch, which forces us to take a closer look at the match-up.

The biggest glaring knock against Miami in this one is that the Canes will be without their leading rebounder Reggie Johnson, who will be out with an injury. This will give Marquette far more opportunities in the paint on offense and will likely give it plenty of offensive rebounds and second-chance buckets.

Marquette may not have enough talent on its side to earn the win and the upset, but look for this to be one of the more highly contested games of the day and take Marquette to cover +5.

Arizona Wildcats +4 vs. Ohio State Buckeyes -4

After seeing Gonzaga go down last round, the Buckeyes are now the heavy favorite to take down the West region, but they’ll have another tough test to pass today against the Arizona Wildcats.

The Cats have looked strong in their first two games, but they haven’t faced a team yet with the capabilities of Ohio State. Arizona’s wins over Belmont and Harvard may have made the school look a little better than it really is.

However, Ohio State proved to be plenty vulnerable in its near-loss to Iowa State last week, relying on an Aaron Craft buzzer-beater to advance.

Whatever happens and whoever prevails, one thing is certain. This game will also be a nail-biter, so take Arizona to cover +4 here.

Syracuse Orange +5.5 vs. Indiana Hoosiers -5.5

The Hoosiers are another team that narrowly escaped an early round exit last week, but they still bring one of the country’s most experienced and balanced teams into today’s match-up against the Orange of Syracuse.

Even though Indiana has all the weapons and the pieces to win a title this season, Syracuse is playing its best basketball of the season right now and if the Orange continue to bring their A game into today’s battle, they’ll have a great chance to knock off the Hoosiers and claim the East region.

I expect another close here. Take Syracuse to cover +5.5 and don’t be surprised if the Orange win outright.

La Salle Explorers +4.5 vs. Wichita State Shockers -4.5

Both the Explorers and Shockers have impressed tournament watchers and hoops fans thus far with their upset victories, but Wichita State seems to have the more athletic squad and the tournament experience needed for a deeper tournament run.

La Salle has thrived on the three-point line so far during the tourney, but once it starts missing, it will die on the three-point line as well and with the Shockers’ quick and pesky defense, that could easily happen today. Look for Wichita State to take control in the second half and cover -4.5 in the win.

I Like the Tigers and Nationals in the Fall Classic

Justin Verlander


Justin Verlander
I expect Verlander and the Tigers to get over the hump and win the World Series.

In most parts of the country right now the last thing on anyone’s mind is Spring. After all, parts of the Midwest and Eastern portions of the United States were dumped on again by old man winter. Pittsburgh for example is supposed to host opening day in less than a week but the diamond at PNC Park was covered with snow yesterday.

Because the snow is still flying doesn’t mean I have to be relegated to discussing March Madness or the NBA right now because baseball’s Opening Day is within sight and it’s now time for my fearless predictions that you may or may not want to take to the bank.


East Division Champions – Tampa Bay Rays

The Yankees are in trouble as are the Red Sox. I expect Toronto to make a more serious run with added pitching and the Orioles will present challenges but I don’t see them making it past Toronto and Tampa. The Rays have pitching, defense and solid hitting which means a division title.

Central Division Champions – Detroit Tigers

This is a mediocre division that I actually expect to be over by Mid-August. Kansas City will be better as will Cleveland but the Tigers are all-in with the addition of Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez back in the line-up to go with that pitching. Anything less than a World Series appearance for this team is a failure.

West Division Champions – Texas Rangers

Popular opinion says take the Angels with offensive prowess and I believe they’ll challenge Texas but I still like the Rangers’ pitching a little better in terms of winning the division. Don’t completely count out the Athletics simply because we never should. This could be a CY Young type year for the Rangers’ Yu Darvish.

Wild-Cards – Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels

AL Championship – Detroit over Tampa Bay

AL Most Valuable Player – Miguel Cabrera, has too much protection around him to not have another huge year.

AL CY Young – Justin Verlander, until he proves otherwise, he is still the man to beat.


Stephen Strasburg
Look for Strasburg to make a run at the NL Cy Young Award in 2013.


East Division Champions – Washington Nationals

Most pundits and myself expect a big year from Bryce Harper. I’m not ready to say an ‘MVP-type’ season yet, but it should be a big year. The pitching staff in D.C. is excellent and should keep the Braves at bay.

Central Division Champions – Cincinnati Reds

Aroldis Chapman will stay in the closer’s role and I like that. Let Joey Votto and company get the lead and Chapman can lock down games. I expect the Cardinals to be competitive but I’m not sure they have the man-power to hang with Cincy.

West Division Champions – Los Angeles Dodgers

For the first time in many years, there is finally stability in the organization and the ownership group has shown they will spend any amount to field a winner. I like Arizona to challenge but they just won’t be to hang in with the talent and spending power of the Dodgers.

Wild-Cards – San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves

NL Championship – Washington over Cincinnati

NL Most Valuable Player – Joey Votto, only a knee injury kept him from winning it last season. If he stays healthy in ’13 the award will be his.

NL Cy Young – Stephen Strasburg, I believe there will be serious motivation to prove he should have never been shut down last fall.

World Series – Detroit over Washington in 6 games, last fall the Tigers’ bats fell silent against the Giants. They will face tough pitching again this fall but they are now better equipped to handle it from 1-9. I also expect the experience of last year’s World Series trip to pay dividends for the Detroit.

Final Four Favorites

During the NCAA basketball regular season, a clear-cut championship favorite failed to emerge as several so-called dominant teams showed weakness and displayed flaws at several points during the year. Now, after a week in the NCAA Tournament, we have more of an idea as to who the real contenders for the title are, but with wild card teams still in the mix, it’s hard to be so sure. Of course, odds makers have selected their Final Four favorites, but do we agree? Let’s spend some time taking a look at, and breaking down the favorites from each region.

Midwest Region: Favorite – Louisville 5/7, Casino Review’s Pick – Duke 11/4

Bovada likes Louisville at 5/7 in the Midwest region, but to consider them that large a favorite is a bit too generous considering that Duke and Michigan State are both more than capable of knocking them off. The Oregon Ducks could even pose a threat to the Cardinals in the Sweet 16 round, so these odds are definitely overvaluing Louisville. Duke and Michigan are both much better picks in this region at 11/4 and 7/2 respectively. Bettors will have an opportunity to make more cash will these higher value wagers and they’ll have a better chance to win with these experienced tournament teams.

West Region: Bovada’s Favorite – Ohio State 1/1, Casino Review’s Pick – Arizona 2/1

After the No.1, 3, 4 and 5 seeds all went down in early rounds, its understandable that odds makers are leaning towards the highest remaining seed in Ohio State. However, once again the favorite is overvalued here at 1/1. With the way Arizona has played and with the type of athletes they will bring against the Buckeyes, the Wildcats have a very good shot at knocking off Ohio State. If you need proof, simply look back at what Iowa State did to OSU. Arizona has a similarly skilled team and if Aaron Craft doesn’t hit another buzzer beater, Ohio State could be in big trouble. Take Arizona here at 2/1.

South Region: Bovada’s Favorite – Florida 5/6, Casino Review’s Pick – Michigan 5/2

Interestingly, odds makers favor the third-seed Florida in the South, presumably because Kansas hasn’t played particularly well in the tournament so far. However, one team they are overlooking is Michigan. Not only were the Wolverines ranked as the nation’s top squad for a short time, but they’ve certainly turned it on recently, dominating their first two opponents, including the talented VCU Rams. You’re getting better value with Michigan and just as good of a chance to win, so take the Wolverines at 5/2.

East Region: Bovada’s Favorite – Indiana 11/10, Casino Review’s Pick – Miami 19/10

The Hoosiers barely survived an upset against Temple over the weekend, so I’m not so sure I would continue to stick my money with them going forward, especially when there is a much better looking contender in the East region in the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes have rolled through the tournament so far and with their balance and bevy of talented athletes, they could easily go all the way. You’re also getting about twice the odds and double the value with Miami, so stay away from Indiana here.