Louisville Cardinals celebrate after they came from behind to beat Syracuse Orange in Big East NCAA men's basketball tournament game in New York

Louisville, Indiana among Vegas favorites to win national title

1 Comment

The selection committee wasn’t the only group to be impressed with Louisville’s run to the Big East tournament title.

Sportsbook.com released its odds for the NCAA Tournament and the Cardinals are the clear favorite to cut down the nets in Atlanta. The top overall seed in the bracket, Louisville (9/2 odds) is looking to return to the Final Four for the second consecutive season.

The program has won two national titles, with Darrell Griffith leading the way in 1980 and freshman Pervis Ellison doing so six years later.

Following Louisville on the list of 20 schools are Indiana (7/1), Duke (8/1) and Kansas (8/1). The fourth top seed, Gonzaga, would pay the same odds as Florida and Miami (10/1). The most surprising aspect of that is the presence of the Gators, who are 0-6 this season in games decided by nine points or less.

However the Cardinals aren’t the consensus favorite among sports books, which may be fitting given how the college basketball season has gone. VegasInsider.com lists Indiana as the early favorite to win the national title, with the Hoosiers (9/2 odds) looking to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2002.

That Final Four was played in Atlanta, with the Hoosiers falling to Maryland in the title game.

This coming weekend is one of the busiest of the year in Las Vegas, with thousands descending on the city to take in the NCAA Tournament and place wagers on the action. And according to the Las Vegas Sun, sports books stand to benefit from this season’s unpredictability.

Jimmy Vaccaro, William Hill sports books spokesman and longtime oddsmaker, doesn’t even know where to start with what teams are the most popular wagers to win the title.

“They’re taking everybody,” Vaccaro said. “When you get a season like this where it’s a total roller coaster, it’s good for the books. There are so many teams you can make a case for, and that’s what makes booking futures great.

The NCAA may not be thrilled with the prospect of sports betting, but there’s no doubt that it’s something many fans look forward to this time of year.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Iowa State lands three-star SG Jakolby Long

Steve Prohm
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Iowa State received its fourth verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 Friday morning, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Jakolby Long made his pledge to Steve Prohm’s program. A native of Mustang, Oklahoma, Long attends Mustang HS and played for the Athletes First grassroots program this summer.

In Nike EYBL play for Athletes First, Long averaged 16.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

According to Cyclone Fanatic, Long was also considering Georgia, Texas and Utah before deciding that he’ll play his college basketball at Iowa State. Long will join junior Matt Thomas, sophomore Hallice Cooke and transfer Nick Babb in the competition for minutes off the ball when he arrives on campus next year. According to Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune, Long could be a in a position where he sees solid playing time immediately.

Long joins junior college products Donovan Jackson and Emmanuel Malou, and 2016 forward Solomon Young in Iowa State’s 2016 class to date. And the Cyclones, who won’t use all 13 scholarships this season, still have room for a couple more additions for next season.

Iowa State has four seniors (Naz Long, Abdel Nader, Georges Niang and Jameel McKay), and junior point guard Monte’ Morris is considered by some to be a candidate to enter the 2016 NBA Draft.

UofL foundation hires firm to review escort allegations

Leave a comment

An independent Louisville affiliate has hired a law firm to review an escort’s allegations that former men’s basketball staffer Andre McGee hired dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

The University of Louisville Foundation announced the hiring Thursday of the Stites & Harbison law firm. The foundation does fundraising for the university.

Louisville President James Ramsey also said Thursday he “fully” supports athletic director Tom Jurich “as we work to identify the facts in this situation.” Ramsey reiterated the school has hired former NCAA enforcement official Chuck Smrt to lead the athletic department’s investigation.

Men’s basketball spokesman Kenny Klein had no comment on a CBS Sports report that former Cardinals recruit JaQuan Lyle, now an Ohio State freshman, confirmed the “gist of allegations” detailed in Katina Powell’s book during a meeting Tuesday with the NCAA.

Lyle originally signed with Louisville before de-committing and eventually landing with the Buckeyes. OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg confirmed the NCAA meeting via email on Wednesday but said there were no issues with Ohio State. He did not mention Louisville.

Powell’s book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen” was released online last weekend by a publishing affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal. A hardcover version of the 104-page book is scheduled for release on Monday.

The book states that McGee hired Powell and other dancers, including three of her daughters, for 22 shows allegedly performed from 2010 to 2014 at the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dormitory.

McGee left Louisville in 2014 for Missouri-Kansas City, which placed him on paid leave Friday. A message left Thursday with his Louisville attorney, Scott C. Cox, was not immediately returned. A spokeswoman for IBJ’s publishing arm could not be reached either.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino has said McGee denied Powell’s allegations. In a radio interview Tuesday he denied knowledge of what took place and said last week that others he talked to didn’t know about the activities described in the book.

“I’m going through 15 people who worked here, and not one person even had a premonition of something wrong,” Pitino said Friday. “Not one person living in the dorm had even the slightest premonition. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

The Hall of Fame coach wasn’t mentioned in Ramsey’s statement in which the chancellor praised Jurich’s athletic program as “exemplary” at the school.

“It is important that the university – all of us – stay focused on our day-to-day work of providing our outstanding students with a world-class education,” Ramsey said. “The investigation of the allegations may take time and we must, as one university, continue doing the work we do to move our university and our community forward.”