College Basketball 2014 March Madness – The Finals

cmsimg_1357331247The most improbable NCAA March Madness tournament in many years is finally drawing to a close. In a tournament where top seeded teams and AP poll darlings got knocked out round after round after round, should it really come as that much of a surprise that 8 seed Kentucky is playing 7 seed Connecticut in the finals? It does to the people who wanted a piece of Buffett’s billion, but in the end it seems only fitting that we’ve arrived at this point. Kentucky was actually a pre-season favorite long before we got to March Madness, but the inexperienced freshmen seemed a little overwhelmed in conference play. They still managed a 12-6 record in the SEC, but hardly seemed dominant. Fortunately for them Randle, Young, and the Harrison twins among others gelled as a team at the right place and right time. They are so good so young that people are now comparing them to the Michigan Wolverines “Fab 5” of yore. It’s equally fitting for the UConn Huskies to be in the spot they are right now. They handed Florida one of only two losses they suffered in the regular season, and by beating them again in the NCAA tournament semi-finals, they proved it wasn’t a fluke. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I think Shabazz Napier may be the most clutch player on any team that has been in this tournament. UConn proved themselves time and again over higher ranked and more vaunted competition – they beat a 2 seed (Villanova), a 3 seed (Iowa State) and a 4 seed (Michigan State) in succession round after round. They had the exact mathematical opposite of an “easy road” to the Final Four. Every test was tough, and every time they were tested, team leaders like DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright stepped up and got the job done. It seems easy in hindsight to have picked this team to be who they are and where they are, but as a summary of past bets may tell you, UConn consistently overcame the odds to get here. So now we’ve come to the unlikely match-up, with no top seeds from any region, yet arguably the two teams that have more than any other proven they are where they should be RIGHT NOW – vying for a national championship. What prevails in the end when you’re betting on this finale – the youthful exuberance and cohesiveness of the Wildcats, or the proven track record of upsetting more touted opponents the Huskies hold this season? As they were in the semi-finals, Kentucky winds up the money line favorite in this equation, holding a -150 to +130 advantage. Since this tournament has been chock full of upsets, I can’t tell you to not play the favorite, but I can tell you that in a virtual coin flip I like the odds of Shabazz Napier getting a clutch basket late. He did it to Florida all those months ago back in 2013 when the Huskies shocked the world the first time. One last hurrah before the NBA signs him to a lucrative contract? You can definitely bet on the last two words – his future beyond this game is a bright one. Please wager only what you can afford and gamble responsibly.

Written by Stevie J

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