As far as I can tell, National Player of the Year is off the board, with Zach Edey ensconced at top. Since the Big Maple has the Wooden trophy on lock (bring it home!), let’s take a look at what Draft Kings thinks about the Boilermakers in the looming NCAA tournament.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details
Our old friend Kelvin Sampson put down the phone and has the Cougars as the odds on favorite to win it all in March (and part of April). It’s not hard to see why the 28-2 Cougars are at the top of the heap. They’re 28-2 and on a 10 game win streak they can extend to 11 with a win over Memphis today.
At the same time, they are the least tested team in the top 5. While Purdue was fighting through the Big10. The last ranked team Houston played was on 12/17 against UVA (they won 69-61). All they can do is play the games on their schedule, but do you trust a team that hasn’t played a close game since January 28th (a 6 point win over Cincinatti)?
Can Nate Oates hold this thing together without shoving his so far into his mouth that it pops out his lower orifice? The Crimson Tide should be one of the best stories in the nation, and Oates should be in the discussion for National Coach of the Year, but instead a horrific murder allegedly perpetrated by a now former Alabama, and the alleged role star forward Brandon Miller in the tragedy have taken center stage.
March is hard enough to navigate for a team with no real tournament history, can the Crimson Tide overcome the pressure of the tournament and the spotlight placed on the program for off the court depravity?
The defending champs are back and looking to put a weird dynasty together. In terms of talent last year wasn’t Bill Self’s best team, but they managed to win it all. This year, in terms of talent, isn’t Bill Self’s best team, but they’re in position to make another run through the tournament.
They’re led by Jalen Wilson, who would be the most improved player in college basketball if Zach Edey weren’t a thing. He’s made the transition from 10 point a day complimentary scorer to 20 point a game star. Freshman sensation Grady Dick backs him up, scoring 14 a game. The offense is the question for Kansas. In the 6 games they’ve lost this season (all against ranked teams) they’ve failed to hit 70 points in all but 1 (an 83-82 overtime loss to Kansas State). Last night they were ice cold in Austin, shooting 36% from the floor in a 75-59 loss. Can the Jayhawks score enough points to bring keep the trophy in Lawrence?
UCLA, our old NCAA friend, located in the bad lands of college basketball known as the Pac-12, have been beating up on teams that should probably give up on college athletics. They played one ranked team in-conference (Arizona), and split with them. Other than that, they’ve massacred teams like Cal, Oregon State, and Washington State.
If you like experienced teams with experienced guard play, you’ll like the Bruins with Tyger Campbell and Jamie Jaquez Jr. They’ve both played in the Final 4 before and have been in Westwood since John Wooden roamed the sidelines. The Bruins haven’t been challenged much this season, but they have guys who have played on the big stage before, can they help resurrect West Coast college basketball?
Well, here we are again. The fact Purdue has the 5th best odds to win it all, in its self, is an accomplishment for a team that was predicted to finish mid-pack (at best) in the Big10. Zach Edey is the runaway choice for National Player of the Year, and Matt Painter is once again in the running for National Coach of the Year. All that is impressive, but the specter of March futility looms over the Boilermakers.
Is this the year the curse is broken? Is this the year Purdue plays loose and over powers mid-majors while out executing blue bloods? Can a pair of freshman guards lead Purdue to the promised land or will they step on another mid-major landmine and blow themselves up?