Sportsbook.com has released their very, very early odds for the 2011 NCAA championship and three of the top seven favorites are out of the Big Ten. A look at the top teams (and UL):
Michigan St. (10-1)
Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio St., Villanova (20-1)
As a Purdue graduate and forced spectator of the league for much of the past few years of my life (nothing worse than a Kentucky game pre-empted by a Penn St./Northwestern defensive juggernaut), I’ll come right out and admit I’m not a huge fan of the league. It’s my hatred of all things Bobby Knight, my love of exciting basketball, and my need for accuracy in numbers (eleven! Not ten!) all rolled into one.
But I’ll be the first to admit that the Big Ten always does better in the tournament than I (or most analysts) think they will. My theory? Teams just get bored playing them. And frustrated. When you’re used to playing an up-tempo style and then you’re forced to wade through the mire and muck that is the Big Ten tempo, I’d imagine you’d want to pull your eyeballs from your sockets and shove them down Bruce Weber’s throat. But I digress.
I have no problem with Ohio State, Michigan State, and Purdue being among the top ten favorites for next year. And honestly Vegas probably has it right. But I just never can believe that that crappy league will do anything worth while in the tournament. I guess we’ll see in 314 days.