As is the case in almost everything in 2013, the shelf life for enjoyment of the 2013 NCAA men's championship game (a thrilling 82-76 Louisville win over Michigan) was a total of about five minutes before we started looking ahead to 2013-2014.
Almost immediately after the game was over, already odds for which team would be conducting the exact same celebration that Louisville was conducting live on my television screen were floating around social media and the interwebs.
So without further ado, here they are, courtesy of R.J. Bell, founder of the excellent wagering website pregame.com (@RJinVegas, for an excellent Twitter follow), your 2014 men's basketball title odds:
21. Minnesota: 35/1 This appears to be Vegas trying to troll money off of people who a) think Richard Pitino is the second coming of his old man or b) are really shitfaced and think that Richard Pitino actually is his old man. "Rick Pitino left Louisville....wwhhaaa???....aagghzzzlhhjhjk...."
20. UCLA: 30/1 19. Pitt: 30/1 18. NC St: 30/1 Mark Gottfried, Jamie Dixon, Steve Alford are the head coaches of these teams. If you're into burning your money on a whole bunch of nothing, I'd recommend lotto tickets. There's a higher payoff and better actual odds than any of these guys winning in March.
17. Marquette: 30/1 Vander Blue stays, and we can discuss 30/1 for Marquette. Blue goes, so does your money if you fire on this.
16. Indiana 30/1 This number clearly has Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo moving onto the NBA baked into it. If the Hoosiers returned their entire cast, they'd be a Top 5 team. instead, like Kansas and a few others listed above, they're counting on a strong recruiting class to carry the day next season.
15. Creighton 28/1 Same assessment as Marquette, just replace "Vander Blue " with Doug McDermott.
14. Kansas 25/1 The bad news? Kansas graduates four starters and freshman Ben McLemore might be going pro. The good news? Four Top 50 recruits are coming in, point guard Naadir Thorpe returns, and Bill Self always seems to find a way to have Kansas in the mix. 13. New Mexico: 25/1 Steve Alford's leaving for UCLA actually makes me more inclined to drop a sawbuck on these guys come March.
12. Colorado: 22/1 This looks like a number that assumes Spencer Dinwiddie and Andre Roberson are staying in Boulder for one more year. If that's the case, they can definitely make a run at the Pac-12 title and would be a live team at 22/1.
11. Syracuse: 20/1 If Michael Carter-Williams leaves, it's going to be real struggle to replicate what the Orange did this past March. C.J. Fair evolved into a nice scorer, but losing seniors James Southerland and Brandon Triche hurts.
10. Florida: 20/1 Billy Donovan loses three important seniors off of this year's team (Murphy, Rosario, Boynton), but he got great news this week with frontcourt beast Patric Young announcing his return. Add in two Top 10 recruits to the rest of the glue guys coming back, and Donovan will have the Gators poised come March. The biggest issue might be the fact that Kentucky will not be an average outfit next season like they were this past season.
9. Michigan: 20/1 Holy smokes, how can you in good conscience, invest anything on Michigan right now? There's not a single player on that team whose NBA stock didn't skyrocket in March (save maybe Tim Hardaway, Jr. who held steady as a projected mid/late first rounder). Trey Burke worked himself into the upper part of the lottery, Glenn Robinson III will be a mid-first rounder, and Mitch McGary parlayed these last three weeks into a first round selection if he wants to go get it.
8. Arizona: 18/1 Arizona loses their two best players in in Solomon Hill and former Xavier transfer Mark Lyons, but they got big news in the last week or so with Eric Gordon's brother Aaron committing. That's the good news. The great news is Aaron Gordon is five inches taller than Eric! Yahtzee!!!
7. Michigan St: 15/1 Betting on Tom Izzo at any number for success in March is never a terrible investment. At the very least, he gives you a decent chance at a hedge opportunity as he seemingly makes the Final Four every other year.
6. Memphis: 14/1 Another "name" play, similar to Number 3 North Carolina at 8/1, with the thinking being "Memphis is always relevant, Josh Pastner always has material, and their conference should be a cake walk." The first two things may be true, but the conference thing is a new wrinkle, as Memphis joins the brand new American Athletic Conference with UConn, Cincinnati, Louisville for a season, and Temple. A saltier slate than C-USA to be sure, and Pastner will have to do it without Adonis Thomas, who is moving on to the NBA.
5. Louisville: 12/1 Rick Pitino has consistently put Peyton Siva on a plane that had previously only been reserved for Billy Donovan in the all-time pantheon of Pitino-coached players. We all saw why as the tournament rolled on the last few weeks. Add in Russ Smith's announcement that he's going to go pro (total wild card as a prospect, by the way), and Gorgui Dieng's possible jump as well, and it would seem there's quite a bit of work to do. But Pitino brings back Final Four M.O.P. Luke Hancock, a fully healed Kevin Ware, active big men Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell and a JUCO point guard named Chris Jones.
4. Ohio St: 9/1 DeShaun Thomas has announced he's going pro, which is not a big surprise, but hurts a team whose offense oftentimes consisted of giving Thomas the ball and watching him go get points. LaQuinton Ross really made strides late in the season, and of course, Aaron Craft will be back for his eleventh season in Columbus to piss everyone off.
3. North Carolina: 8/1 There's a lot of stuff to be sorted out in Chapel Hill before I go putting North Carolina as the third most likely team to win the whole thing next year. Who is staying, who is going? James Michael McAdoo (overrated), P.J. Hairston, and Reggie Bullock all have decisions to make. McAdoo is the only one getting any real first round buzz, and his stock has slipped considerably since the start of the season.
2. Duke: 8/1 They lose Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee, but return Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton, and Rasheed Sulaimon (Houston again!). Add in transfer Rodney Hood from Mississippi State along with Chicago high school senior Jabari Parker (the one "can't miss" guy that Kentucky didn't get) and you can probably pencil in Duke for, at a minimum, a highly relevant 2/3 seed type of season coming out of the upgraded ACC.
1. Kentucky: 4/1 It's weird to see a team that went out in the first round of the NIT (to Robert Morris, no less!) as the odds-on favorite to win the whole thing, but John Calipari might be bringing in his most talented crew yet, a star-studded freshman class highlighted by Houston's own Harrison twins and also featuring forwards Julius Randle and James Young, and center Daraki Johnson. With holdovers Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer, and Willie Cauley-Stein, and with Canadian high school senior Andrew Wiggins still a possibility...I mean...wow.
Five absentees who will find their way onto this list before next season:
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GONZAGA: Could be a solid buy in the preseason, especially if Olynyk returns. CONNECTICUT: Backcourt of Napier and Boatwright should be one of the country's best, leading Huskies back into the tournament after a year in exile. NOTRE DAME: I'd never touch a Mike Brey-coached team, but they will be on odds boards and return practically everybody except Jack Cooley from a 25-8 team last season. VCU: Returns a bunch of their rotation and should be the marquee team in an easier Atlantic 10. BUTLER: Tougher conference could be a great thing or a tricky thing. We shall see.
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