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Take a look at the NCAA Tournament bracket from the '09 Dance for a second… The Louisville Cardinals, Connecticut Huskies, Pittsburgh Panthers, and North Carolina Tar Heels were all #1 seeds in that field, while the Michigan State Spartans, Duke Blue Devils, Memphis Tigers, and Oklahoma Sooners were #2 seeds. No one is doubting just how good the Spartans and Blue Devils are this year; after all, you can find these two teams as the seventh and eighth choices on the board right now at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
However, look at the NCAA Tournament resumes for each of those other six teams and play the judge for yourself about how well they're doing this year…
Key Wins: vs. Connecticut, vs. Cincinnati, @ Providence
Key Losses: vs. Western Carolina, vs. Charlotte
Odds to win NCAA Tournament: +7500 at BetUS Sportsbook
The Final Word: Things are only getting harder for the Cardinals, who are only at 5-4 in conference and falling fast, especially on the road, where they only have one win all year long. That win against UConn on Monday night probably helped push Louisville onto the right side of the bubble at the moment, but one would like to think that the Cards will have to go no worse than 3-1 at home and 2-3 on the road, and then take down a pair of games in the Big East Tournament to get some serious consideration to get into the Field of 65.
Key Wins: vs. Texas, vs. Seton Hall, vs. Notre Dame, vs. William & Mary
Key Losses: None
Odds to win NCAA Tournament: +4000 at Diamond Sportsbook
The Final Word: It's about time to turn out the lights on UConn's season. Yes, there really aren't any glaring losses on this schedule, but a poor conference record isn't going to help matters any. Barring finishing 6-3 or so in the regular season and making some noise in the Big East Tourney, it's NIT time for the Huskies.
North Carolina Tar Heels
Key Wins: vs. MichiganState, vs. OhioState
Key Losses: vs. Virginia, @ Charleston
Odds to win NCAA Tournament: +4000 at SportsBet Sportsbook
The Final Word: The only thing keeping UNC alive right now is its name on the front of the jerseys. The defending champs don't have a resume worth much, even though there are a couple of nice wins on the resume. However, none of them are in the ACC, and until and unless that happens, it's going to be hard to see how this team can make a case to get in the field over teams like FloridaState, Duke, Georgia Tech, Clemson, WakeForest, and Maryland.
Key Wins: vs. Louisville, @ Connecticut, @ Cincinnati, @ Syracuse, vs. Wichita State
Key Losses: @ South Florida, @ Indiana
Odds to win NCAA Tournament: +5500 at JustBet Sportsbook
The Final Word: This was the one team that was supposed to fall off the face of the earth after a solid '09 run in the tourney. However, Pitt's eye-popping start in the Big East has tapered off with losses in three of its L/4. Barring some bad home losses, the Panthers should get into the field, but it's very possible to think that this team could slip and finish up 4-7 in its L/11 games or so and be right back on the bubble.
Key Wins: @ Marshall
Key Losses: @ SMU, vs. UTEP, @ Massachusetts
Odds to win NCAA Tournament: +11000 at BoDog Sportsbook
The Final Word: The only thing that the Tigers have going for them is that they may be able to steal Conference USA's automatic bid to the dance. There's no hope, even if the Tigers win out, that they can reach the NCAA Tournament without that automatic ticket.
Key Wins: vs. Missouri, vs. Oklahoma State
Key Losses: @ Nebraska, vs. UTEP, vs. Houston, @ San Diego, @ VCU
Odds to win NCAA Tournament: +17500 at 5Dimes Sportsbook
The Final Word: If there's no hope for Memphis, there's even less for Oklahoma. The Sooners can't even compete in their own conference, and they're not even a shoe-in for the NIT this season. There are plenty of big names floating around that will be in the discussions for the Final Four when the regular season is finished. However, before you even remotely consider taking action on one of these so-called "big names" from a year ago, remember that you very well could be betting on a team that isn't even going to make the NCAA Tournament. Your money has to be better invested on teams that are certain to make the field and much more likely to make some noise when they get there.