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

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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.

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
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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.