Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Final Four Analysis of NCAA Basketball Tournament

The article BetRepublic.com presented at the beginning of the NCAA basketball tournament described the parity that existed this season, and the weaknesses of all four number one seeds, advising sports bettors to caution against loading your final four with them. One of those number one seeds, the tournament favorite, Kentucky, went out in the second round, emphasizing the point we made. And, adding an exclamation mark to our premise, two other number ones, Syracuse and Kentucky, were eliminated this weekend, leaving Duke as the only surviving top seed.

Thus, the final four is made up of a lone number one - Duke (at odds of +150), one number two seed, West Virginia (+200) - and two number five seeds - Butler (+400) and Michigan State (+450).

Who is going to win it all?

Perhaps there is a clue provided on the divergent paths each has taken to get here.

Odds seem set against the top seeds this year, so suspicion tells me that perhaps Duke, which had the highest odds of the four number ones entering the tournament, might be the next to go out. They have had the easiest road to the finals, needing only to beat number sixteen Ark. Pine Bluff, number eight Cal and an undersized number four Purdue team that was without star playmaker Robbie Hummel. They beat number three Baylor to get to the final four, but the Mountaineers of W.Virginia will be their first real test and at odds of only +150 I don't think there is value in the Blue Devils.

Though Butler and Michigan State are both number fives, it is the Bulldogs who are true giant slayers and the real underdog entering the final four. They have knocked off a number one and a number two - Syracuse and Kansas State. They play sound defense and stress fundamentals, and look to be on the "Cinderella Path" as we enter the final three games.

Michigan State beat a twelve, a four, a nine and a six seed to get here. True, they have Coach Izzo, who is a proven commodity in March, but like Kentucky the Spartans have benefited from some lucky wins and gift calls from the refs.

West Virginia is the lone survivor from the division that had the most teams in the tournament, the Big East. They only beat a fifteen, ten and eleven to get to the Elite Eight. They did take out number one Kentucky, but Big Blue, as has been pointed out here, was young and inexperienced, and had a few lucky breaks down the stretch. Luck only carries you so far and sooner or later the mistakes of youth catch up with you. The tournament has proven that though they had the most entries, the Big East was soft, and it is unlikely that a representative from the division wins it all.

Butler seems to be the most battle-tested, and they have that look of destiny about them. They have the ability to force opponents to play their style, and along with attractive odds at 4-1 they represent the best value at this point in the tourney.

Be sure to join us every day at BetRepublic.com for all our Final Four picks and analysis.

By Sonny Palermo

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