Brad Stevens

National title odds: got $50 to put on Butler?

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One of my favorite things to do during college basketball’s offseason happens when a gambling website releases odds on who will win the national title.

They are currently posted over at Bovada, and no one should be surprised that Indiana is currently the favorite at 7:1. The Hoosiers are likely going to end up being the No. 1 team in the official preseason polls as they return basically their entire roster, including potential Player of the Year Cody Zeller. I am interested in whether or not Louisville (who is getting 8:1 odds) has had the addition of Montrezl Harrell factored in yet. If he is as good as some have said, the Cardinals may be the best team in the country.

Kentucky comes in third at 10:1, followed by UCLA at 12:1 and Duke, UNC and Florida at 15:1.

Those are all fairly obvious picks, however. You want some help making money? Here are a few of the picks I like:

– Michigan 20:1: The Wolverines returned Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. while adding a loaded recruiting class to a team that won a share of the Big Ten regular season title last year. They are a borderline top five team.

– Missouri 35:1: I know I’ve been hyping the Tigers all spring, but I’m enamored with this team.

– UNLV 35:1: The Runnin’ Rebels have one of the most talented and deep front courts in the country and a veteran point guard in Anthony Marshall. Playing in a tough Mountain West, they’ll be tested come March.

– Gonzaga 60:1: Kevin Pangos is the next great Gonzaga guard, and he may not even be the most talented player on the Zags’ perimeter when he shares the floor with Gary Bell. Should I mention Sam Dower and Elias Harris, too?

– Butler 65:1: Brad Stevens returns quite a bit of young talent, and while losing Ronald Nored will hurt, he’ll be replaced by Kellen Dunham and Rotnei Clarke, arguably the best shooter in the country.

Other picks: VCU (75:1), Minnesota (75:1), Harvard (100:1)

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.