Teams with the Best Chance of Winning the 2017 NCAA Tournament

So does your odds-on favorite team really have a chance of winning the NCAA tournament this year? If you are anything like I am, when it comes to keeping a watchful eye on the happenings in the college basketball betting scene you also are watchful when odds change dramatically.

I’ve watched as the odds to win the tourney have changed dramatically for some teams while hardly at all for some. Most recently was the dramatic change with UCLA and Baylor. It’s amazing what a couple of wins can do to the betting odds for a team, isn’t it?

Baylor

In my opinion, Baylor shouldn’t have been posted at the high odds they were given at the first of the year. They certainly have proven themselves against such formidable top 25 teams as Oregon, Louisville, Michigan State and Xavier, all of whom they handled readily.

The Bears big wins have all come on their home court. The only question in Baylor’s team is how they will play on the road, away from the home court advantage of the tiny Ferrell Center. Meanwhile, the Bears are sporting highly athletic team with the seemingly boundless amount of energy and endurance that will propel them to remain competitive throughout the entire 40 minutes. This should bode well for them as the season ears on and the competition gets tougher with each passing game.

The Big 12, as usual, is a balanced conference where an undefeated run is unlikely from any team. Baylor is led by junior forward Jonathon Motley and has a depth chart loaded with experience. They are a team with the two biggest indicators of a successful team, depth, and experience. Considering their resume thus far in the season, there is a case that they will have the resources to make a deep run in the March showdown.

UCLA

Steve Alford’s UCLA is sporting a taller, but less-experienced team. UCLA is led by guard Lonzo Ball and his uncanny aim at hitting to a goal from anywhere he pleases. The run and gun offense is putting an average PPG of more than 93. Having only dropped 1 game so far this season against the Oregon Ducks, 1 of only 3 ranked teams they play during the regular season, they seem to have a lock on taking PAC 12. By the time the tourney rolls around this March they should have honed their skills well enough to compete in a strong field.

It’s a nice prediction of a coming #2 seed would further pave the way for UCLA to have a formidable run to the final four, assuming that their lights out shooting barrage holds out for the entire season. Look for UCLA to prove their weight as the season rolls along allowing UCLA to improve their numbers without much of a threat of dropping more than 1 game.

UCLA’s chances of improving to a 1 seed are greater than most of the teams in the top 8 as their schedule gets a little weaker as it goes on, which will give the higher ranked teams ample time to drop a game or two. Assuming that this scenario plays out, UCLA could go into the tourney with a #1 seed.

As you know the early betting odds to win the tourney can get adjusted quickly. It just goes to show the betting doesn’t always indicate the relative strengths of those teams. I like to look at the team matchups as a line by line comparison. Another greatly important evaluation is a conference and schedule comparison.

Both Baylor, as well as UCLA, has shown that they have the resolve to compete strongly throughout the season and make strong bids at the title. Depth and experience are mainstays in the run for the championship trophy. The regular season and the tourney are a marathon and can’t be won or lost on the basis of a single game or two in the early going of the season.

Endurance and high athletic skills will eventually rule over the hit and miss wins and upsets along the way. I look for both of these teams to be in the final four and for one of them to walk with the title of National Champion. My money will usually stick with the team who has the winning basics down as second nature, in this case, UCLA.

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Top 10 College Basketball Arenas

College basketball arenas have seen drastic improvements over the past couple of years. These 10 college basketball stadiums are beautiful and many say they even rival some NBA home venues.

1. Rupp Area – Kentucky Wildcats

This arena is able to seat 23,000 fans and proudly displays the many banners won by the Wildcats. This arena displays the history of the team and the tradition that Kentucky basketball follows.

2. Carrier Dome – Syracuse Orange

During every home game the arena blares “Welcome to the Jungle” as the team comes out. This dome has many modern features including HD video boards that will show video highlights during the game.

3. FedExForum – Memphis Tigers

This area is located in downtown Memphis and near some of the most well travel tourist attractions in the area. It is also near the Mississippi River. This stadium is located near the famous Gus’s Chicken. The attractions alone bring fans into the basketball arena.

4. CenturyLink Center – Creighton Bluejays

This arena is located in an urban setting located close to the best entertainment downtown has to offer. This attracts fans to the arena. This stadium is designed to offer fans of college basketball one of the best game watching experiences.

5. Dee Glen Smith Spectrum – Utah State Aggies

Every sports fan should attend at least one game at this arena. There is a student section which takes up almost half of the arena. It always fills up quickly. There is plenty of enthusiasm from the crowd even before the game begins. There is a community feel here and the place is always packed.

6. Phog Allen Fieldhouse – Kansas Jayhawks

While this arena is six decades old it has a proud traditional and plenty of history. There are a number of banners that display the conferences and accomplishments of the team including 56 conferences titles. The arena was named after former coach Dr. Forrest ”Phog” Allen. There is even a statue of him outside of the building.

7. Chrystler Center – Michigan Wolverines

This arena has undergone a $100 million dollar renovation to make it one of the best home courts in all of college basketball. There are plenty of seats, top of the line televisions for instant replays, and everything else a person would expect in a basketball arena.

8. Wisepies Arena – New Mexico Lobos

This arena has been around since 1966. The student section of the arena brings the excitement and thanks to the fans the team has a huge home court advantage.

9. Dean E. Smith Center- North Carolina Tar Heels

The arena is filled with polished hardwood and has blue colored hallways. This team was home to some of the best players in the history of the game including Michael Jordan. There is a museum next-door so a fan can get a look at the great players that once played for this team.

10. Frank Erwin Special Events Center – Texas Longhorns

This center is known as The Drum to locals. This stadium can hold 16,000 fans and has quite the rowdy setting when there is a game.

These are some of the best arenas in college basketball. They provide an experience like no other and a fan can root on their favorite college basketball team.

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Best College Basketball Schools

The best college basketball schools are those that generate the most hype for their teams.  Typically they are not as good at football because the athletic departments focus is on hoops. The few schools on this list are the finest programs in the sport, and they come to mind whenever a list of great basketball schools is mentioned. Both casual and avid fans are aware of these schools, and they will remember the greatness of each program as they read this article.

#1: Kentucky

Kentucky became great under Adolph Rupp, and that’s a big reason the home arena bears his name. Everyone from Pat Riley to Anthony Davis played at Kentucky, and they have won several championships in their time. The team was involved in the greatest college basketball finish of all time giving up a long jumper to Christian Laettner in the NCAA tournament, and their coaches call to mind hall of famers of every kind. Eddie Sutton, Tubby Smith, Rick Pitino and John Calipari are all among the luminaries of the sport.

#2: North Carolina

North Carolina became the UNC of today under Dean Smith, and the school is the home of Michael Jordan. There is not much else to say about a program that birthed the best basketball player in the history of the sport, but it should be said that the North Carolina coaching and playing tree stretches to every end of basketball. Dean Smith created a dynasty that still gives back to the game decades after his debut.

#3: Duke

Duke was not a very good basketball school until they hired Coach K to run their team. He was a nobody coming off a stint as an assistant under Bobby Knight at Army, but he is now the winningest coach in history. Duke has won five national titles under Coach K, and they appear in the Final Four regularly. The number of trips they have taken to the Final Four is staggering in comparison to other schools, and plenty of his former players have gone on to coach the game at every level.

#4: Indiana

Indiana is known as a basketball school primarily because it’s always been known as a basketball state. Bobby Knight had an undefeated season with the Hoosiers , and the school has several national titles to its credit. The red striped pants the Hoosiers wear to the court are as iconic as the school itself. Assembly Hall is a name that all basketball fans know, and the team has never once lost its relevance.

#5: UCLA

John Wooden’s run at UCLA featured so many great players and championships that there is not enough time to list them all. From Lew Alcindor to Bill Walton, UCLA is the home of championships. John Wooden became the Wizard of Westwood in his time at the school, and the Bruins still attract talent on name alone in the same way Alabama football does. UCLA is a true picture of greatness all basketball fans remember.

#6: Kansas

The Jayhawks are the last on the list, but they are not the least. Allen Fieldhouse is a beautiful place to watch basketball, and the team has several championships to its credit. They have hosted some of the greatest players in the game, and they are in contention nearly every season. A list of great basketball schools cannot be completed without Kansas.

Other schools such as Louisville, Villanova, Arizona, and Michigan have their own history that is worth mentioning. College basketball is a rich and diverse sport that begins with the six teams on this list. Their tradition of excellence makes the sport more exciting to watch.

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Best Rivalries in College Basketball

When the school around your place of residence is set to play its greatest and sworn rival, you can cancel any other plans you had for entertainment. These games are major fun! Unfortunately, some of the oldest and most bitter rivalries are waning away with the realignment of conferences. The changes have unfortunately smothered some of these traditional rivals since they no longer meet anymore, not even during the big annual rivalry week. 

Most college basketball games are pretty hard fought, but rivalry games take it up a notch.  A lot goes into these games.  A history of great matchups is important.  Close proximity usually causes fans to really want bragging rights.  But there are a few series that are huge even outside of the chosen fan bases.

Kentucky-Louisville
Residents of Bluegrass State are perhaps the luckiest college basketball fans. Their teams, Kentucky and Louisville, dominate other teams and even one time met each other in the semis of a NCAA tournament. One of the factors that have fueled the rivalry has been the fact that Rick Pitino has coached at both schools. The drama is so significant that when the rivalry was almost smothered by conference realignments, the then governor and sitting state Congress made it law that the two schools had to play each other every year. That is how much cherished their rivalry has been.

Indiana-Purdue

These are top teams and are important constituents of the Big Ten. For over a century, they have played in the same conference and have both won several championships. These teams enjoy massive support because the state of Indiana is big on college basketball. The colleges are just 100 miles apart from each other but have always managed to grip support of over four cities which take sides and conspire to jeer each other in hostile games which are always televised to the ecstasy of all hoop connoisseurs. Big shot basketball personalities like Ryne Smith, Gene Keady and Bob Knight all attribute the peaking of their careers to the rivalry. They claim that the electrifying crowds are the reason they have had spurred up moments of sheer brilliance in performance.

Duke-North Carolina
One of the major reason the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils have been going at each other for decades is that their coaches are brilliant men. Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams of the Tar Heels has been able to keep the stunningly brilliant Mike Krzyzewski at his toes in the Atlantic Coast Conference games year after year. The two teams have always surprised their fans every year by restocking their teams despite losing their stars to the NBA draft.

Of course, great talent brings about thrilling games and an insane fan base, the perfect recipe for a great rivalry. The drama can go on forever and find new life each passing year! These colleges are very close to each other geographically but a world apart regarding basketball. The biggest reason for the beef is that the proximity entails fans interacting with one another. All sports fan interaction worldwide are characterized by extreme mocking and trash talk.

Xavier-Cincinnati

These campuses are probably the closest to each other that proximity can allow. At a distance of only three miles, the shooting matches that go on during any major basketball events between these two rivals is more dramatic than gang affiliated confrontations. The only difference is that sports rivals barter each other psychologically and not physically like gangs. The annual shootout between the Bearcats and the Musketeers literary rips apart the town folks for a week. The drama is always intense for families with siblings attending both campuses and worse if both play for their basketball teams.

Jay Bilas has been quoted several times marveling at the intense and passionate rivalry. The ESPN analyst finds the Crosstown Shootout to be unparalleled. Anytime these two meet on any court, be sure the host community will enjoy many advantages. There will be a filled stadium, and local fast-food joints will make huge sales, and basketball fans will be treated to overtime thrillers, and mixed reactions of triumph and pitfalls.

UCLA-Arizona

The rival between the Wildcats and the Bruins dates as back as in the 1960s. It used to be lopsided, but every much as competitive and passionate as now but the tide of Bruins supremacy was put to rest with the arrival of Lute Olson in Tucson. Now, anytime these two meet on the court, there is absolutely no way one can predict the outcome.

The UCLA Wildcats are a great team that had in a decade won 10 national championships. However, their superiority has only been put to question by their all-time rivals who have had a record of 23-28 against the Wildcats. Any keen basketball fan will appreciate that that is a fabulous feat to achieve against such an imposing team. This rivalry used to be a state issue but has grown to be a full-fledged national basketball affair. For the sake of improving ratings, most TV stations always try to get rights to televise any clash between these two titans.

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NFL Players Who Also Played College Basketball

Football players who played basketball are quite common as the two-sport athlete rises to the top in many cases. This article shares five men who not only made the NFL, but also managed to play basketball in college.  Fans who love football hear talk of a certain player having the jumping ability of a basketball player, but that player was rarely a two-sport athlete in college.

#1: Julius Peppers

Julius Peppers played a couple seasons of basketball at North Carolina before devoting himself to football full-time. He made the right decision as he is still one of the most-dominant defensive players in football. Getting a basketball scholarship at UNC is not easy, but Peppers has the size and physicality to play a hard defensive role on any team. He came in the top ten of Heisman voting his last year in college, and that may indicate why football was the right choice.

#2: Antonio Gates

Antonio Gates is mentioned as a basketball player more often than not because he uses his size to catch the ball over defenders as he runs routes. He is a star tight end with the Chargers, but he was a basketball player with potential in another life. He is one of the great basketball players in Kent State history, but his upside as a football player saw him take a trip to San Diego that has not yet ended. His physical skill is unmatched at the position, and his jumping prowess as a basketball player makes him a dangerous receiver.

#3: Quentin Rollins

Quentin Rollins was a standout basketball player for Miami of Ohio before he came to the NFL. Miami is better known for being the home of Ben Roethlisberger, but Rollins was a fine basketball player who spent four seasons with the team. He made the choice to play football when he had a chance, and he has not looked back. He is a compact man who has quickness that was built on the basketball court. The game itself often trains men to do things that specialty football players cannot do.

#4: Vincent Jackson

Vincent Jackson is an excellent receiver who gets his share of praise for making plays. He does so effortlessly, and his size makes him a terrible match-up for most defenders. Jackson walked on at the University of Northern Colorado, and he became quite a good basketball player in his time. Football seems to have chosen him due to fate, but the skills he learned as a basketball player show in his game as a player in the NFL.

#5: Jimmy Graham

Jimmy Graham receives nothing but praise for his performance as a tight end in the NFL. He is a highly-touted player who went to the Seahawks in a blockbuster trade with the Saints. He was a basketball player at Miami long ago, and he uses his fleet feet honed on the basketball court to elude defenders after catching the ball. He has the athletic ability of a football player, but he has the deft touch of a basketball player.

These players on this list are unique athletes who play two sports with ease. They all chose football over basketball in much the same way Charlie Ward chose basketball after winning the Heisman Trophy. Their careers are aided by their time on the hardwood, but fans may forget that these men were once shooting the rock every night.

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