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2008/09 NCAAB Season Preview

NCAAB: TAR HEELS LEAD TITLE ODDS

After two-straight ACC Championships, the North Carolina Tar Heels are the heavy favorite to get the national title that has eluded them the past two seasons.

Despite putting talented squads on the floor, the Tar Heels haven’t been able to win its fifth national championship but oddsmakers expect that to change this season as coach Roy Williams has all the key parts back from the squad that went to the Final Four last season.

The top six scorers from last year’s team are back and that includes Seniors Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green and Marcus Ginyard, along with Juniors Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson and Deon Thompson.

Hansbrough led all UNC scorers with 22.6 points per game last season while Ellington and Lawson added 16.6 and 12.7 per game respectively. Lawson guided the offense with 167 assists while Green and Thompson provided the great defense, combining for 98 blocks. Green also added 11.5 PPG as the 6th man.

Having these players back makes the Tar Heels a solid bet to win but anything can happen at tournament time and that’s why we’re previewing the Top 10 teams as picked by the Sportsbook.com oddsmakers.

We’ve thrown in a few sleepers too and you’ll find the Odds-To-Win the National Championship listed in parenthesis.

Read the previews and make your picks on our Live Odds page because the NCAA Basketball season is underway. You’ll also find a complete list of game lines and props every day.

North Carolina (3:1)

The Tar Heels status as the favorite was a surprise to no one. They return their top six scorers from a team that went to the Final Four last year before being upset by Kansas. The only question with this team is Tyler Hanbrough’s injured right shin and whether it will affect him all season.

Duke (10:1)

Duke is only ranked 8th in the AP preseason poll so these odds are somewhat of a surprise. The Blue Devils started last year strongly but faded down the stretch as their lack of big men really hurt them. Duke is improved inside, but we’ll have to see by how much.

UCLA (10:1)

UCLA has made it to the Final Four three straight years and these odds suggest they can do it again. Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are all gone and it will be interesting to see if a top recruiting class can compliment the holdovers like Darren Collison enough.

UConn (15:1)

UConn returns their top five scorers from last year if you include Stanley Robinson, who comes back in December. The tall, 7’3” center Hasheem Thabeet is the key especially if he develops on offense. This is the second ranked team in the AP preseason poll for a reason and these odds have great value.

Louisville (15:1)

Louisville took a hit along the frontline when David Padgett, Juan Palacios and Derrick Caracter left. Earl Clark will be the leader up front along with highly ranked freshman Samardo Samuels. The backcourt is very deep and top notch and this is another team offering great value.

Michigan State (20:1)

Michigan State and Purdue are considered the class of the Big Ten with Wisconsin and Ohio State behind. The Spartans lost mainstay guard Drew Neitzel but they return guard Kalin Lucas and forward Raymar Morgan who will form a nice inside/outside tandem. That has MSU ranked 6th in the AP preseason poll.

Pittsburgh (20:1)

Pittsburgh is kind of an unknown team in some circles, and they did lose depth at the guard and swingman position. That said, forward Sam Young, center DeJuan Blair and point guard Levance Fields are a tremendous threesome and the Panthers will make some noise.

Tennessee (20:1)

Tennessee is a team that had major defections with Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith leading the way. McDonald’s All-American freshman, Scotty Hopson will join holdovers, Tyler Smith, Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince to form a good nucleus. However, the Vols odds seem optimistic especially considering their ranked 14th in the AP poll.

Memphis (25:1)

The national runner-ups from a year ago, Memphis saw a title slip through their fingers. Freshman sensation, Tyreke Evans, joins a steady returning cast led by 6’9” Robert Dozier, but it’s hard to picture this team winning a national championship after last season.

All Other

There are eight teams at 30:1 odds including defending champion Kansas. While those odds seem very optimistic for the decimated Jayhawks, the 30:1 squad worth the most consideration is Texas. They return A.J. Abrams and Damion James, two big pieces towards a title.

Marquette also looks like great value at 60:1 as they return their explosive three-guard backcourt in Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews. One downside is that coach Tom Crean departed for Indiana.

The best real long shot is Miami at 100:1. Ranked 17th in the AP preseason poll, the Hurricanes return their top five scorers from a team that almost made the Sweet Sixteen last year. Plus, they signed a Top 25 recruit in DeQuan Jones.

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