Bookmakers Like Tar Heels Chances of Winning College Basketball Championship

Final 4 free bet college basketball Intertops

North Carolina is favored, Syracuse is underdog in Final Four showdown in Houston this weekend.

The maddest season of the sporting year reaches its climax this weekend with America’s top four college hoops teams battling it out for the national championship title in Houston. Just one number one seed has survived the usual carnage of the four Regional tournaments, but does North Carolina now have what it takes to go all the way? Intertops Sportsbook bookmakers see the Tar Heels (+110) on top of the pile, but Villanova (+250) and Oklahoma (+300) are still right there in the mix. Syracuse (+1000), seeded 10 in the Midwest Region,  is the obvious underdog, but anything is possible at the NRG Stadium.

“Syracuse has been the big surprise of the tourney so far and we have seen plenty of interest in a semifinal upset win over UNC,” said an Intertops Sportsbook manager. “You never know, we might all be seeing Orange after Monday’s final – it’s March Madness, after all!”

Intertops adds to the hoops excitement by offering its customers $50 free bets for their picks on Facebook. They simply have to post their tip to win the Final Four before the first game gets underway and wager in the sportsbook to qualify.  The prize draw will take place after the champion has been crowned on Monday.

The world’s first online sportsbook will also reward its customers for wagering on Monday’s Championship Game with an attractive $100 free bet promotion. Details will be posted on the website on the big day.


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$50 FREE BETS
Post your picks on Facebook before the NCAA US college basketball game starts, then wager in the sportsbook to win $50 free bets.

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March Madness Down to Final Four

 

finalfour2016

Over the weekend the Elite Eight narrowed the US college basketball field to the Final Four.   On Saturday, Villanova will take on Oklahoma at 3:00 pm PST and UNC will battle Syracuse at 6:00 pm PST.

BettingInstinct will have a preview and predictions from UK NCAA blogger Cathal Laughren later this week.

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FINAL 4 — $50 FREE BETS
Post your picks on Facebook before the NCAA US college basketball game starts, then wager at Intertops Sportsbook to win $50 free bets.

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March Madness Final Four could be one for the ages

Does Wisconsin have what it takes to stand in the way of Kentucky's perfect season?

Does Wisconsin have what it takes to stand in the way of Kentucky’s perfect season?

It’s usually at this time of year that the NBA plays second fiddle in the basketball world for the duration of the NCAA tournament. Fans tune in to see the stars of the very imminent future in a tournament which provides the kind of drama that has often dissipated in the later stages of the NBA, where playoff seeding is the only real incentive left.

The NBA has been holding its own this year thanks to one of the most enthralling MVP races in history but be assured – this year’s Final Four will steal the attention right back. We are set up for an incredible 3 games with 3 great teams and, quite frankly, one solid team with a great coach. There are reasons that all 4 could take home the Championship but it seems only fair to start with the team that could well go down as the best college team ever.

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Men’s NCAA Basketball Betting Odds – Outright Winner

Kentucky -150
Duke +325
Wisconsin +450
Michigan State +800
(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

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Betting Odds: Kentucky (-238) vs Wisconsin (+200)

At first glance, saying this Kentucky team could be the best college team ever sounds like an exaggeration. Yet the facts are simple: they have a chance of being the first team to ever go undefeated, they are already only the second team ever to go unbeaten through the regular season and they’ve matched the record for most wins in an NCAA tournament already. Not only that, they have most experts’ number 1 pick for the NBA Draft and may have 3 of their players going top 10 and 7 being drafted.

Intertops Sportsbook Final Four free bet contest

Last year they played Wisconsin at this stage of the tournament and beat them – Wisconsin’s roster has stayed relatively similar whilst Kentucky is much improved. It honestly feels picky to try and give reasons why Kentucky will lose but Notre Dame gave them a hell of a game in the Elite 8 and frankly, had they not abandoned the strategies that got them so close, we may be talking about another famous CBB upset. That’s really all you can aim at Kentucky – they have an experienced roster backing up the Twin Towers of Towns and Cauley-Stein with Aaron Harrison’s clutch play engrained in Wisconsin minds from last year’s encounter. They simply have to be favorites but this is no walkover, far from it.

Wisconsin come into this game with revenge on their minds and boasting the best offense in the country. All the talk is of Kentucky but it cannot be forgotten that Wisconsin have the best college player in the country in their midst. Frank Kaminsky has an NBA-ready body of skills – he can shoot the ball all the way out to three and boss down low. He doesn’t have the ceiling of an Okafor or a Towns but he is the most technically gifted player in the tournament right now. When he goes to the NBA he may struggle with the extended line and most certainly will struggle with the quickness of NBA athletes but those are questions for the future – right now you can guarantee Kentucky are trying to figure out how to stop him.

Just one problem: Sam Dekker. It is true that Wisconsin’s roster has stayed similar to last year but their players are improved with Dekker right at the forefront. He has been one of the best players in the tournament so far, average 21.7 points and 5.5 boards. Dekker has made his name off his smart cutting ability but showcased his range in the Elite 8 against Arizona as he led Wisconsin through a tight game. Much like that game, we know Frank Kaminsky will get his but can Dekker step up as a secondary scorer again? It will be especially important against two great defensive big men who will play Kaminsky as well as anyone.

Betting Odds: Duke (-235) vs Michigan State (+195)

The Blue Devils are back again, led by possibly the best coach in CBB history and an absurdly gifted young big man who, frankly, is becoming more underrated as people see more of him. Jahlil Okafor is suffering from a common problem – as people realise just how good certain players are, they start to try their best to find their flaws and pick holes in their games. It is part of the reason players like Dante Exum and Emmanuel Mudiay have seen their stock remain so high in recent years – we simply don’t see as much of them as others.

The simple facts with Okafor are that he is nearly unstoppable in the post one on one. He hasn’t had a great tournament and yet has been vital to Duke’s success, he cannot be left on his own, commanding a nearly automatic double team. His post game is superb, his footwork incredibly clean for such a young player and he rebounds well. Of course he has his faults but they tend to be focused on by the same people who decided Blake Griffin could only dunk.

Besides, Okafor’s relatively mediocre tournament has merely allowed another superb prospect to shine through. The lack of Winslow talk has been a little bizarre – his NBA comparison is perhaps Michael Kidd-Gilchrist but he is much more polished offensively than MKG and brings the quality defence. He has put up some great lines in the tournament including possibly the best stat-sheet stuffer of a performance so far with 13 points, 12 boards, 5 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks. He brings absolutely everything. Between these two great prospects (and Tyus Jones, who on another team would shine a lot more) and Coach K, it’s hard to see past another Championship game for Duke.

When compared to the other 3 rosters in the tournament, Michigan State looks incredibly average. It is nearly unanimous on all Big Boards that they won’t have a single first round pick in the upcoming Draft. This is not to say that Michigan don’t have any good players. Travis Trice has scored well throughout the tournament and in Denzel Valentine they have a player who will fill up the stat sheet – an efficient scorer who will get boards and assists. However, they don’t come close to the gifts of an Okafor, Towns or Kaminsky. They have taken out the 2, 3 and 4 seed in their own Conference to get here so they haven’t been lucky with their draws. Yet they went an unremarkable 24-11 in the regular season and are the only non-1 seed in the Final Four. So how have they managed to get here? It all comes down to one man – Mr March, Tom Izzo.

Izzo is one of the finest coaches in CBB, wanted by the Cavs during LeBron’s first stint, and earned his nickname for good reason – his teams always come alive in the tournament. He has been to the Final Four 7 times – and though he only has one national Championship, he has rarely had the riches of a Duke or Kentucky. When looking at the rosters, it is nearly impossible to bet against Duke. Yet, Izzo has proved time and time again he thrives upon the underdog status.

This promises to be one heck of a Final Four. Strap in, it’s going to be a fun ride.

 

  DIARMAID HILL (@dhillmu7) is a basketball and football fan who plays both even worse than he writes  about  them. He supports the LA Clippers and Manchester United and yes, he’s heard every joke about both.  Follow  him on Twitter.

March Madness 2015 is Kentucky’s to lose

Can anyone stop Kentucky this year?

Can anyone stop Kentucky this year?

Kentucky is the best team in the country. There is no more obvious statement in the whole sports world right now. With a 34-0 record – which included victories over Kansas, North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisville – Kentucky is the undisputed best team in the country. But what is scariest is not their 30 point demolitions of Kansas and UCLA, instead it is the back-to-back near upsets they faced against Ole Miss and Texas A&M which both went to overtime, with the A&M game ending in double overtime. It was those two games where Kentucky showed that they can grind out wins even when everything is against them.

And it is that mental fortitude which will come in handy in the tournament where they will have a target on their back every single game they play. Throw in the fact that they ended up losing in the final last year to an 8 loss UConn team and this Kentucky is going to be hellbent on going 40-0 and winning the tournament.

 

2015 NCAA March Madness Outright Betting Odds:

Kentucky +110

Wisconsin +750

Arizona +800

Duke +850 

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Looking at the top seeded teams in this year’s tournament it is just impossible to not see Kentucky emerging victorious. They are the best coached team in the country and have a size advantage that no other team can match, with Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns – two NBA-ready 7ft players. Most teams would be lucky to have one of these guys, but Kentucky has two, and it makes them completely unplayable in the paint. The smart money is on Kentucky, they are a step above every other team in the country and when you look at the odds this notion is clearly reflected. March Madness, the most unpredictable tournament in the world, is predicting one thing; and that is, to the disdain of every college hoops fan, a Kentucky victory.

But even though Kentucky is the smart bet, it is no fun rooting for the team who is overwhelmingly perceived as the tournament favourite, especially when it is a team as universally disliked as Kentucky.

 

So if you’re not going to back Kentucky then who is there left to bet on? The second tier of teams (despite all being #1 seeds) are Wisconsin, Duke and Villanova. Villanova can be crossed off the list immediately purely for being a Big East team. Yes, they have a 32-2 record and have beaten down on their conference, but how many Big East teams are actually going to make it to the second round of the tournament? And they ended up splitting the series with the best team they faced, Georgetown, that featured them getting blown out by 20 on the road. Villanova are also placed in one of the toughest regions this tournament with Louisville, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Virginia all lying in wait. It is hard to back a Big East team to win the tournament given the conference’s recent history in tournament play.

Virginia look like the team to beat in this region, finishing the season with the #1 ranked defense and only 3 losses (to Duke, Louisville and UNC by a combined total of 12 points). This Virginia team has been excellent all year and will be a great match-up to Kentucky if both progress that far. In a tournament like March Madness where there is more money to be won betting on teams who are not #1 seeds then Virginia (+1100 with AllYouBet.ag) are the most logical choice if you want an outside shot but don’t want to be taking a punt on a sub-elite Kansas or Louisville team.

 

The other team apart from Virginia where there is good value is Wisconsin, who, despite being widely considered the second favourite behind Kentucky, come with some pretty favourable odds. The main reason behind Wisconsin being seen as the second best team in the tournament is Frank Kaminsky, a 7ft behemoth who is widely regarded as the best offensive player in the country. If Wisconsin manage to reach final to presumably face off against Kentucky, then the match-up between Willie Cauley-Stein and Frank Kaminsky will be fantastic to watch, pitting an undefendable player against the best defender in the country. Wisconsin can go as far as Kaminsky wants to take them and it is never a bad move to bet on the team that features the best player in the country, especially as the earliest Wisconsin can play Kentucky is the final game of the tournament.

Kentucky may be the heavy favourite for the tournament but that creates a lot of value elsewhere with Wisconsin and Virginia being prime examples.

 

Betting Instinct Tip – Wisconsin to win NCAAB West is +150 with AllYouBet.ag

 

mattm MATT MCGRATH writes about American football, be it college or NCAA (because betting on unpaid student athletes is fun and definitely ethically correct). Follow him on Twitter.

March Madness 2014 Final Four – Can Kentucky Make History?

Can Kentucky's John Calipari repeat his 2011-12 success?

Can Kentucky’s John Calipari repeat his 2011-12 success?

 

No one will ever have it all figured out.  No one wants to.

 

Aaron Craft lay flat on his back on the hardwood and let the madness wash over him. Dayton had just upset Craft’s Ohio State Buckeyes in the first game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, bursting millions of brackets as Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage pulled up outside college basketball’s Big Dance.  Dayton’s run to the Elite Eight was the standout story of this year’s March Madness for the neutral, as they also toppled the much-fancied Syracuse and fellow giant killers, Stanford, before finally being stopped by No. 1 Florida.  The other major upsets came from Stanford and Mercer, who beat Kansas and Duke, respectively, and saw to it that the top three players in this year’s heralded freshmen class (Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker) would be watching the business end of the tournament from their couches.  This is how Mercer’s Kevin Canevari felt about that.

 

The Final Four is where it gets serious.  Cinderella had her fun, but was escorted out after one too many Jägerbombs.  The true heavyweights remain: Florida, UConn, Wisconsin and Kentucky.  Pay attention to the seedings no more; though UConn is a No. 7 and Kentucky a No. 8, both are power programs which have produced champions in the past four years, while No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Wisconsin have been consistent all season – there are no underdogs.  Still, of the 11 million brackets filled out for ESPN’s Tournament challenge, just 612 predicted that these would be the last four teams left despite the fact that Kentucky was the preseason No. 1 and Florida was the midseason No. 1.

 

March Madness Final Four Betting Odds:

Florida +110

Kentucky +250

Wisconsin +275

Connecticut +800

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The favourites before the tournament coming off a 30-game winning streak, Florida is the team to beat.  Here’s where it gets interesting though: two of the other Final Four teams, Wisconsin and UConn, are the only teams to have beaten Florida this season, while Kentucky came within a point in their last matchup with the Gators.  Florida’s record this season is a result of the nation’s best defense, toughness and consistency, all owing to the maturity of the squad.  Before the season, maturity was not a word often associated with point guard Scottie Wilbekin, and his story is definitely worth a read.  Florida would certainly not be here without him.  Wilbekin is one of four seniors in the starting lineup and no Gator is expected to be selected in the first round of this year’s NBA Draft – are Florida the anti-Kentucky?

 

Last season was tough for UConn; their long-time Hall of Fame coach, Jim Calhoun, retired before the season, star players from the previous season, Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb, had left for the NBA and they were banned from the NCAA Tournament for not meeting academic standards.  This year, the Huskies are back with a vengeance that few expected, thanks to coach Kevin Ollie and star player Shabazz Napier.  UConn are also in the NCAA Women’s Final Four, but if they are to have any chance of double success, the Huskies need to hope Napier is on form.  Connecticut are far from a one-man team, and boast a balanced, scoring support behind their point guard, but it is clear that they will go as far as Napier, the tournament’s leading scorer (23.3 ppg) takes them.

 

How to describe the 2013/14 Wisconsin Badgers?  “White guys.”  Frank Kaminsky’s words, not mine.  But the Badgers’ star center’s response to the question of how their last opponents would describe the team tells you all you need to know.  Wisconsin are likeable; a feel-good story.  Kaminsky doesn’t take himself too seriously, even if NBA scouts have started to, and low-key coach Bo Ryan has finally led his Badgers to the Final Four after coming close countless times over the last decade.  Though Kaminsky has emerged as a force in recent games, Wisconsin’s success has been built on a slow, efficient offensive style, rather than star play.  They have already beaten Florida and Kentucky this season, and a tough schedule culminated in that victory over the Wildcats in the last round.  Having last won the tournament in 1941, Wisconsin has far and away the longest drought of any of the remaining teams.

 

Coming into the season with one of the most heralded recruiting classes ever and ranked No. 1 in the nation, many believed that John Calipari’s Kentucky would repeat the success of his 2011/12 championship-winning team.  Individual talent was never an issue, but the team often looked like less than the sum of its parts, with the Harrison twins in particular struggling in the backcourt.  After a huge loss to Florida on March 10, Calipari concluded that a change was in order, and tweaked his tactics to give the players more freedom at the expense of set plays.  The results speak for themselves; Kentucky’s last three games have seen them dispose of last year’s finalists, Louisville and Michigan, and the previously undefeated Wichita State.  Julius Randle has cemented his place amongst the top players in this year’s draft and is certainly the man to watch, but both Andrew and Aaron Harrison have stepped up their play in the last two weeks and Marcus Lee has emerged from nowhere to replace the injured Willie Cauley-Stein.  Kentucky has gained momentum and cohesion to go with their star power and will be very difficult to stop.

 

Betting Instinct Tip – Back Kentucky -1.5 against Wisconsin, at -110 with Intertops.eu

 

Cathal avatar CATHAL LOUGHRAN (cathalloughran) is a student and writer from Ireland, based in London.  He  writes about college basketball and the NBA for Betting Instinct

The Best of March Madness

Many a great basketball career has started at college, and few are greater than former UNC alum Michael Jordan

Many a great basketball career has started at college, and few are greater than former UNC alum Michael Jordan

As March Madness enters its second week, Jamie Cutteridge explains what all the fuss is about by looking at five of the greatest moments in the history of the NCAA tournament.

 

If you’ve been on the internet, near the internet, next door to the internet or in the same postcode as the internet in the last week, you’ve probably heard of March Madness. The NCAA tournament is a joyous treat in the often dull month of March. The 64 best teams in college basketball play a straight knockout tournament over three weeks as the future stars of the NBA take on (and often lose to) players who will never see anything like this attention again. Underdogs, drama and wall-to-wall sport. Utterly perfect. As we near the final stages, Betting Instinct brings you five of the best moments in March Madness history to get you pumped for this week’s action.

 

NCAA Championship Betting Odds:

Florida +350

Louisville +450

Michigan State +450

Arizona +550

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

1982: Jordan wins it late at the start of his journey to greatness.

Picking a best Michael Jordan is impossible. The Flu game, ‘The shot’ against Cleveland in 1989, his final shot to beat Utah in 98, the threes and the shrug against Portland in 1992. He’s the greatest basketball player of all time, and possibly the biggest sporting icon since Adam beat Eve at an egg and spoon race. In his freshman year in college, he scored the winning basket with his team down by one point to beat Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown. Just sit back and enjoy some classic MJ.

 

 

 

1983: NC State shock America

In one of the biggest shocks in American sporting history, unfancied North Carolina State, led by legendary coach ‘Jimmy V’ upset massive favourites Houston to take the title. The Houston team contained future NBA hall of famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, but couldn’t get it done as Lorenzo Charles dunked Dereck Whittenburg’s air-ball to win the game as time as time expired to send his coach into a state of delirium.

 

 

 

1985: Villanova ruin Ewing’s big day. Again

Patrick Ewing’s lack of success is so notable he’s got a theory named after him. After losing out to Jordan in ’82, Ewing and Georgetown  did win the title in 1984, and seemed destined to repeat in 1985 as the heavy pre-tournament favourites reached the big dance to play eight-seeded Villanova. However no-one counted on the Wildcats shooting a quite frankly ludicrous  78.6% to beat Ewing in his college swansong.

 

 

1992: THE SHOT

They call it the shot. They should call it the pass. The eventual champions and number one seeds Duke met Kentucky in an unforgettable regional final that was settled in overtime. Kentucky scored with 2.1 seconds to go to take a one point lead and it looked like the top seeds were on the way out. But then Grant Hill made an unreal pass, Christian Laettner got the ball and… oh just watch it.

 

 

 

 

1993: The Timeout

The 1993 Michigan Wolverines were the greatest college team of all time. ‘The Fab Five’ as they were known contained Jimmy King,  Ray Jackson, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose and Chris Webber. They took on fellow number one seeds North Carolina in 1993’s title game and trailed by two as Chris Webber brought the ball up court with fifteen second remaining. Webber got trapped in the corner and called a timeout, except Michigan didn’t have any left. A technical foul was called, NC got two free throws and the ball, and won the title.  A horrendous blunder that has overshadowed the rest of Webber’s brilliant career.

 

 

 

That’s just a taste of the drama and magic that March Madness involves. The fun continues from Thursday through to Sunday this week as the sweet sixteen are whittled down the final four. My tips to make the final have been Florida and Louisiana from the start, and they’re still going strong, just. But if you’re looking for value, don’t sleep on eleventh seeded Tennessee in the Midwest region. But no matter who plays, don’t miss out on some magical March madness.

 

Betting Instinct Tip: Tennessee to win the Midwest region is +550 with Intertops.eu

 

Jamie avatar JAMIE CUTTERIDGE (jamiecutteridge) is a journalist for a real magazine, but spends an inordinate  amount of time writing about NFL. He’s the editor-in-chief of anygivensundaynight.co.uk and its associated  twitter feed @UKNFL

Even Barack Obama has a go during March Madness as predicting a perfect bracket becomes an American pastime

Is there anyone in the United States who doesn't fill in a March Madness bracker?

Is there anyone in the United States who doesn’t fill in a March Madness bracket?

68 teams.  63 games.  21 days.  Millions of fans.  No second chances.

What happens when something predictably unpredictable becomes so unpredictable that we don’t even know what to expect when expecting the unexpected?  Madness.

The NCAA tournament is one of those rare occasions on which human beings embrace madness.  Every year millions of brackets are filled out in what has become a national pastime in the States, with people entering into online competitions and office pools alike in the hope of predicting the tournament correctly.  Even Barack Obama has a go.  But, clever though he may be, the odds don’t look good: there is about a one in 147.57 quintillion (18 zeroes) chance of picking the perfect bracket.  Why do people subject themselves to such an exercise in futility?  If they needed an incentive beyond the fun, the office pot, or an innate desire to defy the odds (a rare motivation, I’ll admit), Warren Buffett has provided one.  For those unfamiliar with Mr. Buffett, he recently became the world’s second-richest man, and is thus able to promise a $1 billion prize to anyone who can pick the winner of all 63 games.  I wouldn’t bet on it.

This isn’t the NBA Playoffs, no matter how much casual basketball fans love that comparison.  Yes, the stakes are high and the best players are on display, but what separates March from April, May and June is that every game is Game 7.  The atmosphere doesn’t reach fever pitch, it starts there.  Because every team has a chance.  Bracket busting teams of the past, like Butler in 2010 AND 2011, typified the unpredictability of the tournament with their ‘Cinderella stories’.  Except this year, there are so many teams whose feet might fit the proverbial glass slipper that so-called ‘bracketologists’ will have a harder time choosing than Prince Charming.  There seems to be an abundance of ‘giant killers’, but few, if any, giants to kill.  Obviously there are the big-name programs and stalwart coaches who are present year in, year out, but none has set itself apart.

If the NBA’s new Commissioner gets his way, and the league’s age limit is raised from 19 to 20, March Madness 2014 could be the last of its kind.  This year NBA scouts have been giddy with excitement about possibly the most heralded freshman class in recent memory.  The likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Joel Embiid, and Andrew Gordon have not disappointed thus far, but they don’t have much more time to prove themselves.  Because of the increasingly popular ‘one and done’ trend, highly-touted prospects have tended to spend just one year in college before declaring for the NBA draft.  These players and their teams get one shot at the title, in contrast to those mid-major programs comprised of upperclassmen that have been together for years.  It will be interesting to see whether this class of freshmen really is as good as advertised; does any of these players has what it takes to shoulder the weight of a long run in March?  Keep in mind that the team ranked No. 1 in the country, Florida, has just that many freshmen on its roster.

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NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Betting Odds

Florida 5.50
Louisville 7.00
Arizona 8.00
Michigan State 9.00
Kansas 10.00

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

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At the time of writing it’s still championship week, so, if you haven’t already grasped how fickle the nature of this tournament is, here is my disclaimer: while I’ve begun by mentioning the two teams I’m most interested to watch, the unpredictability of March Madness could mean their hopes are up in smoke within a day or two of this preview going live.

Oklahoma State have flirted with being both overrated and underrated since the season began, but the consistent fact of the matter is they will go as far as Marcus Smart takes them.  When he is dialled in, this team can be very difficult to beat, as Kansas found in the second half of their game earlier in the month.  Admittedly I have a fetish for 6’4, 220lb guards (see Wade, Dwyane), but Smart has shown he can pretty much do it all.  Against Texas Tech in the First Round of the Big 12, Smart stuffed the stat sheet and, more importantly, showed the character that has been questioned since the last time the teams met.  If Smart stays focused and gets some help from his teammates, OK State may still justify some of the hype.

After watching UCLA edge out the much-fancied No. 4 Arizona, I don’t see why the Bruins couldn’t make some noise at the Big Dance (especially now that Ben Howland is gone).  They have some intriguing pieces in Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine, but the star of the show in LA this year has been Kyle Anderson.  The 6’8 point-forward was given the keys to the team by new coach, Steve Alford, and has responded with per-game averages not far off a triple-double.  He hasn’t gotten the hype his play has deserved, but a few wins in the coming weeks would change that.  Watch this space.

The fun of the tournament is finding your own teams to follow, so grab a bracket or six and share in the madness.

Betting Instinct Tip – UCLA face Tulsa in their opener, and UCLA -9 is -115 with AllYouBet.ag 

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Intertops Sportsbook $25,000 March Madness Bracket ContestIntertops Sportsbook will pay out $25,000 for a perfect bracket — 63 correct picks. If no player manages to select a perfect bracket, the prize money will be divided equally amongst the 25 players with the highest number of correct picks. Entry deadline is March 20th, 2014.

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Cathal avatarCATHAL LOUGHRAN (cathalloughran) is a student and writer from Ireland, based in London.  He writes about college basketball and the NBA for Betting Instinct