This Week in Betting, A to Z
T.O. Whenham of Doc's Sports Predictions
A - Allen, Ray. The superstar from Seattle will miss the rest of the season to get ankle surgery. Losing a player of that caliber would be a big deal if the Sonics weren't so horrendously bad. As it is, the only possible outcome of this setback is that the team might get more balls in the draft lottery.
B - Brooks, Aaron. The Oregon guard and Chris Rock have never been seen in the same room together. I know that's been written about a lot, but it's so true that it's scary. The over/under on bad jokes Brooks has heard about his face in his life is set at about two million. I'd take the over.
C - Car of Tomorrow. The future is now, as NASCAR unveiled their lower cost COT at Bristol this week. The cars, which will be used full time by 2009, are supposed to improve the competition and level the playing field. That didn't work so well here - Hendrick Motorsports won its third straight race.
D - Dull. It's not that the Elite Eight games were boring, but three of the four weren't particularly close. They all had some good moments, but given the quality of all of the teams they certainly could have been more entertaining. Maybe they were all just saving themselves to blow us away next weekend.
E - Ewing, Patrick, Jr. I don't know if you know this, but this Georgetown player's father also played for Georgetown. I thought I'd mention it because you might have missed it since the commentators only referenced it 387 times during the two hour game on Sunday.
F - Flair, Ric. Florida played particularly well this weekend, and it appears that they have a secret weapon - Ric Flair. The Nature Boy came in and talked to the team before the Butler game. Wooo! Unconfirmed reports are that Ohio State is bringing in Brutus Beefcake next week, and Georgetown is negotiating with Bret Hart.
G - Golden Gophers. Minnesota made one of the most surprising and impressive coaching moves in recent memory. Tubby Smith is a major gain for that program, and the rest of the Big Ten can't be that happy about it. As a Michigan fan I'm not happy - we already struggle, and now there's yet another team in the conference that is going to quickly get much better.
H - Howard, Ryan. Last year's baseball megastar is slumping badly in spring training, and the Philly slugger isn't handling it well. He had finally had enough this weekend, and the all-round nice guy snapped at a reporter. Slumps happen, and he'll almost certainly get over it, but he'll be worth watching because Philadelphia's in serious trouble as long as he struggles.
I - Injured. Ken Griffey Jr. is healthy and playing now, but I'm just writing this now to save time when he inevitably gets injured and misses significant time this season. You know it's going to happen - my bet in a hamstring injury in April, but it could be pretty much anything.
J - Joey Dorsey. The Memphis big man is easily the biggest idiot of the week. After proclaiming publicly that Greg Oden was overrated and that he was the better player, Dorsey was truly horrible against Ohio State. 19 minutes with no points and no shots - it takes effort to be that bad.
K - Kentucky Derby. It was a fairly slow week on the Derby trail. The only race of note was the Lane's End at Turfway, which was won by Hard Spun. He had been impressive earlier, lost some shine in a bad loss last time out, but he's definitely back in the picture after winning nicely from the 10 hole.
L - Lions. Detroit is reportedly getting a lot of offers for their second overall pick in the draft, and they seem interested in potentially making a deal. Matt Millen just has to spend the next month figuring out what the best way to screw up this draft and make sure his team continues to suck for years to come. I have confidence that he'll figure it out.
M - Mike Conley, Jr. Apparently Ohio State's freshman point guard didn't get the memo that he wasn't supposed to be the member of his high school team that shone in the tournament. Oden has been inconsistent, but Conley has just kept getting better. Very impressive.
N - North Carolina. What the hell happened there?
O - Over. Ohio State has forgotten where they came from. For most of the year they were a typical Big Ten team - low scoring, defensive minded, and reliably an under. In the tournament, though, they have gone over all four times, by an average of 18.9 points per game. The margin has gotten wider in each game, too. Georgetown went way, way over, too, so this match-up might produce a far different total than you would have expected a few weeks ago.
P - Puke. I am so sick of hearing Joakim Noah yell and thump his chest about how he and his team aren't getting enough respect. It makes me want to puke. Does anybody actually believe that crap? Does he even believe it? How in the world can he think that the defending national champ and current Final Four member isn't getting any love?
Q - Questions. I keep waiting for the tournament to get a little bit clearer, but it just isn't happening. It takes very little imagination to make a case for any of the four remaining teams to win it all, and it is impossible in my books to completely rule out any of the teams. I don't yet know which handicapping approach I am going to use - coin flip or dart board.
R - Roy Hibbert. During Georgetown's run last year, Hibbert was scrawny and full of potential, but he looked like he had a lot of work to do. This year's Hibbert is a whole new animal. He's mature, dominant and dangerously complete. I was especially impressed with his effectiveness despite having four fouls. His showdown with Oden is going to be fascinating.
S - Streak. The Golden State Warriors are the hottest team in the league from a betting perspective, and that's not a misprint. They have covered 10 of their last 11 games and completely turned around what was fast becoming an ugly season. They may even make the playoffs, though unfortunately all the teams ahead of them are hot as well.
T - Theismann, Joe. My NFL handicapping just improved dramatically. Now that the world's worst color commentator has reportedly been removed from the Monday Night Football booth, I will actually be able to watch those games again, and so I'll have a better idea of how teams are playing. Theismann was so bad it was beyond belief.
U - Unpredictable. I'm not sold on the Gators yet, but the most impressive thing about Florida is definitely their unpredictability. Against Butler they played a slow and methodical defensive style, and then they ran and ran against Oregon. Lee Humphrey had been essentially a non-factor the last two games, then he shot the lights out against Oregon. It's hard to plan to stop a team when you can't be sure what team you are going to face.
V - Veterans. Despite this being the year of the freshman in college basketball, the tournament has shown us the value of veterans. Senior Ron Lewis is the reason that Ohio State is still alive, two grizzled juniors are pacing Georgetown, Florida's starters have all been here before, and Arron Afflalo has over 100 starts.
W - Woods, Tiger. Woods won again. Yawn. It looked like he may have been in a bit of a slump after a disastrous final round last tournament. That slump lasted a week. He won at Doral for the third straight year, and now he heads into the Masters in fine form. There goes any value there may have been in betting on him.
X - Xavier. I am going through Xavier withdrawal. They're out of the men's tournament, out of the women's tournament, and I don't know what to do with myself. Maybe I'll have to start following their baseball team - they are a lousy 7-18, but they are 3-0 in conference.
Y - Yikes. North Carolina's mascot was hit by an SUV while out getting a snack, and it doesn't sound like the 21 year old is going to pull through. That sounds like it should be a punch line, but sadly it is very true. Kinda puts the team's loss in perspective, doesn't it?
Z - Zero, Agent. Gilbert Arenas has found a new way to get himself in trouble. The NBA is on his case after he made $10 bets with at least two people in the crowd in Portland last week. Two things come to mind. First, winning those bets is the first good thing that has happened to those Portland fans all year. Second, the NBA should get off his case, because betting with the fans is a heck of a lot better than decking them.