Thoughts on Rory,NFL Free Agency and the Kentucky Wildcats for Monday

 

Rory
Rory McIlroy isn't in any way like Tiger, but when he tosses a club into a pond he still needs to be held to the same standard.

As hard as I am on Tiger Woods, I’m a little disappointed that the sports media world hasn’t been a little harder on Rory McIlroy after he chucked his 3-iron into pond on the par five fifth hole at Trump Doral. One ESPN writer even went so far as to say “it wasn’t all negative.” Wait a minute… Why do we crush Tiger Woods for moments of anger that are a simple as a curse word but McIlroy gets a pass? Sorry but if you’re going to continue to push golf as a game of honor then demand it from all players not just some.

National Football League’s free agent frenzy is underway with some surprises and some some very expected moves. Ndamukong Suh will reportedly sign the richest deal for a defensive lineman ever on Tuesday when the formal signing can begin. Suh will get $60 million in guaranteed money as heads to the AFC East to play for the Miami Dolphins. The Raiders were thought to be major players for Suh but in the end the first rumored team to want him has gotten him.

Cobb
Randall Cobb surprised a few people with his decision to stay in Green Bay for less money.

In a bit of a surprise, Randall Cobb re-signed with the Green Bay Packers after it appeared there was no way they would be able to afford him. The Raiders reportedly offered him as much as $11-12 million per season but Cobb made a decision that far too many players do not. He chose less money and the chance for team success over anything else. Cobb continues to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers and will benefit from having other talented receivers around him.

I’m not sure I understand what the Philadelphia Eagles are up to in terms of their running back situation. They traded LeSean McCoy who is arguably in his prime years and now are rumored to be looking at former 49ers’ running back Frank Gore who is absolutely on the downside of his career. Granted, if they sign Gore, he’ll make much less money than McCoy would have but at the same time isn’t McCoy a better fir for the Chip Kelly offense?

No pun intended by this but what a tough break for the San Francisco Giants who have lost outfielder Hunter Pence for six to eight weeks. Pence, who played in all 162 games last season was struck on the forearm which fractured while he was batting. The defending champion Giants really have no room error in their quest to return to the playoffs. With the Dodgers already poised to be the division’s best team, the much-improved Padres will not be easily dismissed in 2015 either.

The Kentucky Wildcats achieved a perfect 31-0 regular season on Saturday with a win over SEC rival Florida. The arguments will be far and wide as to whether the team needs to lose in the SEC Tournament in order to capture the National Title. My take is that there will be pressure on these kids one way or another. They’ve been the overwhelming favorites to win the title since the season began and losing in the conference tournament will not make a bit of difference in the amount of pressure these players will face. Should UK lose somewhere in the next four weeks, the hindsight will be ridiculous. Just let the kids and John Calipari navigate the waters. There will be rough seas ahead one way or another.

Usually by this time in the NBA season I have a firm grasp on who I think will win the title but to be honest, I think any team in the Western Conference is capable of winning the championship while in the East I have faith only in the Hawks and Cavaliers.

 

Duke in Hot Water Plus Take it Easy on LeBron People

Coach K
Coach K
I certainly hope Mike Krzyzewski did all the right things pertaining to a former player's alleged sexual assault.

Duke University is finding itself once again embroiled in a sexual assault case but this time around it isn’t the storied LaCrosse program. This time around the stakes are much higher because the spotlight is now on the most prominent person at the University and that would Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Back in late January, Coach K dismissed Rasheed Sulaimon for “repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations.” Now as it turns out, Sulaimon is alleged to have been in two different sexual assaults at the school.

Both accusers allegedly told people about the alleged attacks but did not go to anyone of authority. Options included the Durham Police as well as the Office of Student Conduct on campus. According to ESPN, the two women chose not to got to authorities because they feared what could come from the Duke fan base. If you think that line of thinking is wrong then read the story about the reporter who covered the Jameis Winston case in Tallahassee, Florida.

He was barraged with death threats and was attacked at every turn for simply doing his job as an investigative reporter.

I have no idea if what took place with Sulaimon and the two women involved but that won’t be the biggest story about this by a long shot if there is evidence that Mike Krzyzewski knew about this and did nothing. Coach K has power beyond belief on the Duke campus but people also said the same thing about Joe Paterno and Penn State and we know how that ended up.

If ESPN’s sources are accurate, then Krzyzewski did indeed know about about the alleged assaults as far back as as March of 2014.

I am in no way suggesting that this is on par with the events of Penn State; hopefully nothing ever will be again. But this can’t be waved away, not in 2015 where the media and more importantly social media are everywhere. We’ve already seen a legendary coach taken down for not doing enough. I sure would hate to see it happen to another.

LeBron
Fans need to check their memories a bit when it comes to the greats missing shots like LeBron did.

Take it easy on King James

I’ve written in these very pages before that I will never view LeBron James in the same stratosphere as Michael Jordan and the most simple reason why is the lack of a killer instinct. That said, the people throwing darts at James for his two missed free throws with just four seconds remaining in Houston the other night need to chill out.

“Jordan would have never missed those! Kobe wouldn’t have missed those either!”

I’ve got news for you folks… Both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant missed plenty of game-winning shots during their careers. To say they didn’t means you have not seen enough of either of them because I’ve seen it and I know many others have too.

Like I said, I will never be able to place James above His Airness simply because he lacks the titles but just as importantly he lacks the killer instinct that drove Jordan so hard. That’s not his fault, it’s just how it is. Either way, lay off LeBron for crying out loud. There isn’t a professional alive who hasn’t missed key shots down the stretch.

Sometimes I wonder what universe you people are living in when you say “Jordan would have never missed those.”

NCAA Finals Dream Match Up: Kentucky vs. Duke

March has arrived and that means the NCAA Tournament more appropriately called March Madness. Sitting at the top of the odds chart to win the National Championship are the Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky is 29-0 and can move to 30-0 on Tuesday with a win over the Georgia Bulldogs.

Looking down the road if we may, odds makers through their crystal ball or algorithms whichever you believe, see Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin and Arizona as the teams with the best odds of winning the national championship.

Many believe it could be a battle between Duke and Kentucky with Kentucky sitting at 39-0 in the national championship game against the Duke Blue Devils and Coach K.

Duke would be the only team that could beat Kentucky and they are peaking just at the right time. The Blue Devils have won 9 straight games after losing back-to-back games to North Carolina State and Miami.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said his team has played well all season with the exception of a few games where they did not shoot well. He added that you do not beat teams like Wisconsin, Stanford, Michigan State and Notre Dame unless you are good. He claims his players have also matured since the season started.

Duke has Jahlil Okafor as well, arguably the best player in the nation, just ask Coach K, he will be more than happy to tell you that.

That would mean the year’s best player would be against the country’s best team, what other matchup would anyone really want to see.

Since 1984-85, when the tournament was expanded to 64 teams, just four national championship games have had two No. 1 seeds. Some of the best final games came from the matchups, including Duke vs. UConn in 1999, North Carolina vs. Illinois in 2005, Florida vs. Ohio State in 2007 and Kansas vs. Memphis in 2008.

With Kentucky vs. Duke, you will also have the most hated and most loved teams in the nation in the eyes of college basketball fans. This matchup might not reach the 24.1 rating and 35 million viewers that the Indiana State/Larry Bird vs. Michigan State/Magic Johnson drew but it could especially if Kentucky reaches the final at 39-0.

Mike Krzyzewski is 8-1 at Duke against Kentucky. Kentucky coach John Calipari is attempting to reach his third Final Four in the past three years and his second national title in three years.

It might be a long shot, but that is what sports betting is all about, long shots. Let’s hope the Basketball Gods are looking down upon college basketball and the NCAA Finals feature Kentucky vs. Duke.

The First Sunday in March Brings Many Thoughts From Across the Sports’ Spectrum

Westbrook

 

Westbrook
The dent in Russell Westbrook's face is pretty evident in this photo.

With numerous goings on in numerous sports, I’m giving you a little bit of everything as the third month of 2015 begins.

There was a time when it was extremely rare for fans to get a hold of hats, shirts or jerseys of their favorite teams and while that difficulty no longer exists the Pittsburgh Pirates have to wish it still did. With the revealing of “Jihadi John” of ISIS this week, a photo of him surfaced wearing a Pirates baseball cap and it has sickened not only the fans but the Pirates’ organization. It’s too bad you don’t actually have to do something to prove your fandom.

Remember the saying, “Do you want another hole in your head?” While a hole is not what Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook has after being kneed in the head inadvertently by a teammate. Westbrook had a clear ‘dent’ on the right side of his face and he had surgery to repair the zygomatic arch bone which is officially part of the cheek. He’s out for today’s game against the Lakers and will be re-evaluated this week,

Kentucky rolled to another SEC victory yesterday as they knocked off a pretty good Arkansas team. I have a really hard time seeing the Wildcats get beat before the NCAA Tournament begins. Yes, they could face some challenges in the SEC Tournament but once tourney time hits I expect them to be even better.

QBs
Mariota and Winston each have questions about their games heading towards the draft.

In what is already a weak quarterback class, both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota have separate issues that teams considering them will have to contend with as the draft approaches. Winston’s issues are obvious; can he mature enough to make off-field problems a thing of the past? For Mariota, the issue might be bigger. I worry about him having to take traditional three, five and seven step drops at the pro level. It might not sound like a big deal but trust me, it is.

RIP Anthony Mason. The former New York Knick was the epitome of basketball in the mid-1990s when the game went from a fast-paced, back and forth style to an aggressive, physical style ushered in by the ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons. Mason played with the Knicks and Patrick Ewing when they made the NBA Finals in 1994 and lost to the Houston Rockets. Mason was consistently at the epicenter of the chaos in the sometimes brutal and physical Eastern Conference Playoffs. Whether it was the Jordan-led Bulls or the Alonzo Mourning Heat, Mason was a physical presence not to messed with.

The Cleveland Browns did their due diligence in getting Josh McCown to come to them for the 2015 season. McCown will not be any kind of savior for Cleveland at 35 years of age but with Johnny Manziel in rehab and Brian Hoyer likely heading elsewhere, the Browns acted wisely to get a veteran QB into the fold. McCown was 1-10 last year with Tampa Bay and perhaps the reason the Browns liked him was that his one win was over the Steelers. Still, one has to wonder just what the direction of the Browns is.

While the NFL toys with the idea of one or possibly two teams in Los Angeles, a new study says a new stadium there would immediately be a terrorist target. While terrorism is nothing to joke about, why should we assume that a stadium in LA would be any more of a risk than one in New York or Chicago or Kansas City for that matter? Obviously bigger cities are better targets for terrorists but I don’t think we can just say the others aren’t susceptible as well.

No. 3 Gonzaga Faces Rival Saint Mary’s

The No. 3 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs visit the Saint Mary’s Gaels on Saturday night. Gonzaga is 27-1 straight up and 12-11-2 against the spread. Saint Mary’s is 20-6 SU and 16-6-2 ATS. Gonzaga opened as an 8.5-point favored by currently is -6.5.

Even though Gonzaga has just 1 loss straight up this season, the Bulldogs are 1-4 ATS over their past five games played. Of course, it makes it a bit more difficult when those five games the Bulldogs were favored by 10 points or more.

Besides a win by 8 points over Pepperdine, none of the past five games has been close even though they have failed to cover.

Gonzaga has one of the country’s best offenses even if the competition it faces is not the best in the country. The Bulldogs have the best field goal percentage in the nation and score an average of 80 points per game.

The defense for St. Mary’s is just average but on offense they are competitive. However, the first time the two meet earlier this season Gonzaga covered a 15-point spread.

Gonzaga is in the top 20 in the country for defensive field goal percentage. In January in the first meeting between the two, the Bulldogs held St. Mary’s to 36% shooting, while Gonzaga hit 53% of its shots. St. Mary’s could only score 47 points, which is its lowest output of this season.

Gonzaga has won 20 straight games for the third time in team history. The Bulldogs have won 10 of the past 12 regular season titles outright. St. Mary’s, who are in second place this season, was the winner of the conference in 2011-12 one season after both teams split the title.

Gonzaga has won 7 straight against St. Mary’s, with the past 6 by an average margin of 19.7 points.

St. Mary’s has won 9 of its past 10 on its home court. The Gaels will retire the jersey of former Gaels star Patty Mills, who now plays for the San Antonio Spurs, at the game tonight.

It is the first time all season that St. Mary’s will be the underdog at home. Gonzaga has not covered a spread in any of its past six games on road, but remember the spreads have been large in each game.

Pick: Gonzaga 62-57

With No NBA Tonight, My Focus is on the College Hardwood

Wright
Wright
Jay Wright's Villanova Wildcats look to avenge an earlier loss to Seton Hall.

The National Basketball Association is still on their All-Star Break which means I turn my attention to the college scene. Believe it or not, we are already getting close to conference tournament time for some of the smaller conferences and before you know it, the big boys will be on stage as they prep for the tourney.

Seton Hall (+16.5) at Villanova – The Wildcats score five more points per game than do the Pirates and they give up five points less per game than does Seton Hall. That doesn’t bode well for the Pirates. Head-to-head the two teams have seen Villanova win seven of the last ten meetings but the Pirates own a two-game winning streak right now.

Trends: Seton Hall is 1-11 straight up in their last 12 road games at Villanova… The Wildcats are 12-3 SU in their last 15 games against Seton Hall… The Pirates are 2-5 SU in their last seven road games… The Wildcats are 2-4 against the spread in their last six game at home versus the Pirates.

The Pick: The Pirates rebound better than ‘Nova does so I like them getting the points but I like the Wildcats to win.

Dixon
Jamie Dixon and the Panthers have a tough assignment at Virginia.

Pittsburgh (+13) at Virginia – The Panthers are coming off of a very important home win over North Carolina but this road test is a different monster altogether. Both teams are scoring in the upper 60’s each game but the Cavaliers are allowing a paltry 50 points per game defensively while Pitt gives 65 per game. The Panthers are a little board on the offensive glass than is Virginia but everything else favors the Cavs tonight.

Trends: Pitt is 1-5 straight up in their last six road games… UVA is 1-5 against the spread in their last six games… The Panthers are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five road games… The Cavs are 13-1 SU in their last 14 games at home.

The Pick: I like UVA to cover considering Pitt’s road woes of late.

Kansas (+1) at West Virginia – There really isn’t a stat to point to in this game that makes you jump on one side or another. Both teams score over 70 points per game and both give up about 65 per game. KU is a little better on the defensive boards while the Mountaineers hold an edge in offensive rebounding.

Trends: Kansas is 4-2 straight up in their last six road games… WVU is 15-3 straight up in their last 18 games at home… The Jayhawks have won three of the last four times they’ve played the Mountaineers… West Virginia is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games.

The Pick: I like the Mountaineers to cover at home but I expect a close contest throughout.

Clemson (+4) at Georgia Tech – This is a contest of two ACC teams who are not always used to being also-rans but that’s where they find themselves in 2015. The Tigers are 15-10 and are holding out hope of an NCAA berth but an NIT bid is more likely. Georgia Tech is under .500 and is going to need to pull off a miracle in the ACC Tournament in order to advance to the NCAA Tournament in March.

Trends: The Tigers are 8-17 straight up in their last 25 road games… Georgia Tech is 2-11 straight up in their last 13 games… Clemson has won five of the last six games in Atlanta straight up versus the Yellow Jackets… GT is 1-5 against the spread in their last six games at home against the Tigers.

The Pick: I love Clemson here getting the points.

The Passing of Smith Plus Thoughts on Potential Title Games

Smith
Smith
Hall of Fame Coach Dean Smith was one of the all-time greats but I think he should have cut down more nets.

I could write much of what you’ve read already regarding Dean Smith who passed away this past weekend but I’m going to give you something else to think about. Yes, he was an amazing coach and even better person but my question is this; just how successful of a coach was Smith?

He recorded 17 Atlantic Coast Conference Regular Season Titles and 13 ACC Tournament titles. He also coached his Tar Heels to 11 Final Four appearances and two national titles. Smith also revolutionized the game with his four-corners offense which took time off the clock and ushered in the creation of the shot clock in college basketball to combat it.

Back to the question at hand though, could Smith have been better?

11 Final Fours is impressive and ties him for second all-time with Mike Krzyzewski and one behind all-time leader John Wooden but to win just two titles out of 11 leaves a little to be desired in my opinion. Consider also that his two titles needed ridiculously bone-headed plays by Chris Webber of Michigan and Fred Brown of Georgetown.

Calhoun
Jim Calhoun of UConn won three titles in just four Final Four appearances.

My goal here is not to kick the man when he’s just dying. What I hope is that perspective can be gained from looking at his overall record.

Bobby Knight won three titles in just five Final Fours, legendary Adolph Rupp won five in six Final Fours, Krzyzewski has won four in his 11 tries and UConn’s Jim Calhoun won three NCAA titles in four trips. There are always many factors that must be considered in each coach’s Final Four appearances but in my opinion Smith’s Tar Heels often under-performed.

My feelings nor the feelings of anyone else can take away Smith’s contributions to the game. Most importantly we cannot ever forget his commitment to bringing in black players to a southern university either. All that said, I believe Smith to be worthy of his Hall of Fame status but I can’t help but wonder if he shouldn’t have achieved more in terms of titles.

Other College Hoops News

If you haven’t seen the ESPN special feature on University of Michigan basketball player Austin Hatch then do yourself a favor and check it out. Take the name off of the jersey and just imagine this is a kid going to any major university in America. What he has been through is unbelievable and that’s putting it mildly. Head over to ESPN and check it out.

While my dreams of seeing Virginia and Kentucky meet in the NCAA National Title game undefeated went by the wayside, I can still hope for some epic potential match-ups can’t I? Despite a serious scare from Florida yesterday, the Wildcats moved to 23-0 on the season.

Obviously a one-loss Virginia team would still present a great title game but can you imagine if Gonzaga hooks up with the Wildcats? It would be a David and Goliath-type game despite how good the Zags have been recent years.

Wisconsin would be a very intriguing match-up simply because of the overwhelming contrast in styles and we cannot forget the possibility of yet another Kentucky versus Duke thriller.

There’s still a lot of basketball left to be played but the conference tournaments will be here before you know it so there’s still much to be decided.

Saturday College Basketball Bits and Pieces

This weekend has a number of good college basketball matchups.

After visits to the Elite Eight four straight seasons, it looks as if Florida will miss March Madness this season. The Gators are 12-10 straight and 7-13-1 against the spread. If they do not go to the Big Dance, it will be their first miss since 2008.

Nevertheless, if Florida can defeat the nation’s top ranked and undefeated Kentucky Wildcats they would be back in the bubble conversation once again.

However, if the Gators lose then their only hope for postseason play is spelled N-I-T.

Kentucky on the other had is an entirely different story. The Wildcats are an impressive 22-0 SU and 11-11 ATS. Kentucky defeated Georgia on Tuesday at home in its last game. The Wildcats did not look that well but sill won by 11.

UK’s size is almost unheard of with three players who are 7-footers and six in all that are 6-foot-9 or taller.

Bits and Pieces

Arkansas could be without Michael Qualls its second leading scorer in its showdown on Saturday with Mississippi State. Qualls sprained a knee and is listed as questionable.

Georgia could get leading scorer as well as rebounder Marcus Thornton back for its game on Saturday against Tennessee. Georgia is 0-2 without Thornton in the lineup.

Alabama’s Rickey Tarrant, the second leading scorer is doubtful for the Crimson Tide’s games against LSU. He injured his leg in Alabama’s loss to Florida and has sat out two straight games.

Georgia Southern leads the nation with a 12-1-2 against the spread record.

Pepperdine is 15-8 straight up and 15-4-2 against the spread with its 80-74 win on Thursday over BYU. Pepperdine swept BYU this season. The Cougars slim hopes of an NCAA bid were destroyed completely with the loss.

Kourtney Roberson from Texas A&M is a question mark for the Aggies Saturday game versus Missouri because of an injury that has not been disclosed.

As of late in the day Friday, it was unknown what the playing status of  Malek Harris and Marcus Foster was. Both were suspended just prior to Kansas State’s game against Texas Tech.

Already without Briante Weber their starting guard, VCU must face their opponents this weekend without Treveon Graham who is scoring over 16 points per game while grabbing 6.6 rebounds. He is doubtful against St. Bonaventure after spraining an ankle last Wednesday.

Sunday Bullets Because There is Just So Much to Discuss

Calipari
Calipari
Love him or hate him, seeing John Calipari's unbeaten Wildcats play unbeaten Virginia in the NCAA Final would be amazing.

I’m not doing it…. Nope. I’m not stating off this late January Sunday with yet another take on that issue I’ve spent so much time talking about this week. “What issue? you ask? You know? That one coming from that place in the Northeast where there has been a never-ending flow of information about “balls….”

Ya, I’ll get to “Deflate-Gate” shortly but there’s other things to touch on first.

-I realize this is probably nothing more than a pipe dream, but can you imagine if Kentucky and Virginia were to meet in the National Championship Game and both were unbeaten? It would be Defcon Five for the folks at ESPN. I’m not sure it’s going to come to that because there’s a long way to go but I can’t help but think of the spectacle it would be.

Manny
We can only hope that Manny Pacquiao gets his wish to fight Floyd Mayweather this spring.

-I miss boxing. I find mixed martial arts to be entertaining but to me, nothing will ever beat two men squaring off in a back and forth duel in the squared circle. That said, I really hope they find a way to get Floyd Mayweather, Jr and Manny Pacquiao in the ring this spring. Granted, it won’t be the match we should have had a few years back, but it would still be great for the sport. What would be even better is if they could find a way to get it on mainstream television. (cough, cough)

-Here’s my only comments on the Patriots. First, I think it’s great the Pats have completed their own internal investigation and have concluded they did nothing wrong. This is laughable. It’s like Chewbacca launching his own investigation to see where all the hair in his seat on the Millennium Falcon came from. Lastly, why did Bill Belichick feel it necessary to even call the presser yesterday? We learned nothing other than he likes “My Cousin Vinny.”

-A quick 180 from Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge who decided yesterday to put off surgery on his hand. Aldridge was looking at six to eight weeks of in-action had he gone through the surgery. For right now though, he has decided to keep playing. This will be interesting from the standpoint of just how much can he tolerate in terms of pain and discomfort.

-R.I.P Ernie Banks. The most famous and greatest Chicago Cub of them all died yesterday. Not only was he the very first African-American player for the North siders, but he was a two-time MVP, hit over 500 home runs and is in the Hall of Fame. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about him though is nothing about it his playing. But rather, it was about him as a person.

-Tonight of course is the Pro Bowl. It’s what I like to call the “hold your breath so your team’s players don’t get hurt” bowl. Every time this game rolls around I can’t help but think of the Patriots’ running back Robert Edwards. He was playing in a rookie, beach football game and blew his knee out. After an amazing first year, he was never the same.

-If you don’t have a dog in the fight tonight, the Pro Bowl is a great way to have some fun with prop bets. Things like who scores the first touchdown, the most touchdowns or who the first player on the sidelines is to use the word “deflate.”

-Easy for me to say, but I think Father Time is trying to tell Kobe Bryant something. I also think it’s something that LeBron James should pay attention too as well. Both of these players entered the NBA out of high school and those extra miles on their bodies are far more grueling than if they had gone to college. With his rotator cuff injury, I think the end is near.

Updated Futures for College Basketball National Champion

The college football national champion has been crowned and now college basketball takes center stage. The field for the NCAA basketball championship has opened up as favorites have started to stumble during the ongoing conference schedules.

Kentucky the No. 1 team in the preseason and through Monday of this week has started to shown some vulnerability.

The Wildcats are struggling in their opening games of the SEC. Kentucky is nevertheless 2-0 SU, but 2-0 ATS and has played three overtimes in its first two conference games.

Duke was the No. 2 team in the country with most observers believing the Blue Devils were one team that could defeat Kentucky. However, Duke lost to North Carolina State in an ACC showdown.

Despite the best efforts of the media and fans, a national champion will not be crowned in college basketball in January or February.

While Kentucky sitting at 10 to 11 and Duke at 8 to 1 are still the two favorites to be cutting the nets down in early April, it is far too early to write off a number of other legitimate contenders.

Included in those is Virginia at 8 to 1 and Wisconsin at 10 to 1

Virginia is with Duke heading the list of teams just below Kentucky.

Wisconsin lost as home favorites 80-70 against Duke this past December, but neither of the Badgers two losses clouds anyone’s perception of Wisconsin being a legitimate title contender.

The Badgers have an efficient offense, experience and size, led by Frank Kaminsky the 7-footer. The Badgers also have the seventh best scoring defense in the nation, giving them the ingredients needed to win the national championship.

When it comes to defense, Virginia can boast the top scoring defense in the country and will have their shot at Duke when they play host to the Blue Devils January 31, likely entering that encounter at the top of the ACC standings with the Blue Devils.

Of course, more than half of January and all of February remain before the conference tournaments take place followed by March Madness. However, there should be shifting in the top 25 and on the national championship futures board, as teams get deeper into their respective conference schedules.

NCAA 2015 National Championship Odds

KENTUCKY WILDCATS 10 to 11
DUKE BLUE DEVILS 8 to 1
VIRGINIA CAVALIERS 8 to 1
ARIZONA WILDCATS 10 to 1
WISCONSIN BADGERS 10 to 1
GONZAGA BULLDOGS 12 to 1
LOUISVILLE CARDINALS 25 to 1
KANSAS JAYHAWKS 30 to 1
VILLANOVA WILDCATS 30 to 1
TEXAS LONGHORNS 30 to 1