Archive for February, 2009

2009 NCAA Basketball Bubble Teams

February 26th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   Comments Off on 2009 NCAA Basketball Bubble Teams

The NCAA Basketball season is winding down to the last week or so in terms of the regular season which will be followed by the conference tournaments. As selection Sunday approaches, many teams are running out of time to impress the selection committee in efforts to make the big dance. There are of course many teams locked in and some locked out, but then there is what we like to call the bubble teams who still have a chance to get in. We take a look at some of the teams that are on the verge of making the NCAA Tournament in March and who could be left out. Some of these names may come shocking as teams like Kentucky, Georgetown and more are in danger of missing this year’s March Madness.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16-11)

Once upon a time, the Fighting Irish were ranked no. 7 in the country and off to a great start to their season. However, Notre Dame went missing during the middle of the season losing 7 straight games that really hurt their chances of an NCAA Tournament type postseason. The Fighting Irish have one of the best players in America in Luke Harangody who is averaging 24 points and 12.3 rebounds and have won 4 of their last 5 games since the 7 game losing streak. Still the Fighting Irish lack a lot of big time wins outside of their slashing over Louisville when they routed the Cardinals 90-57. Notre Dame could make really make it hard for the selection committee if they could come up with an upset on Saturday when they battle number 2 Connecticut on the road. Unfortunately, without that win and possibly at least one more victory Notre Dame’s chances look slim.

Virginia Tech Hokies (17-10)

Things are not looking good for the Hokies. A little over a week ago things looked bright for Virginia Tech as they stood at a 16-7 record with a key win over Wake Forest to go on the resume. However, lately Virginia Tech has dropped 3 of their last 4 and the forecast is not pretty. The Hokies get Duke, North Carolina, and Florida State in their last 3 games making it a very possible chance they could lose all 3 games. The Hokies will have to come up big some how against the top ACC teams in the conference and they will likely need to win 2 out of 3.

Boston College Eagles (20-9)

Eagles fans should breathe a sigh of relief because they are most likely a lock to make the dance. It would be extremely hard for the selection committee to reject one of the only team in the ACC outside of Wake Forest to beat both North Carolina and Duke. Boston College sits fairly nice right now with a record of 20-9 with games with NC State and Georgia Tech left on the schedule. Boston College should have no problem at least getting a victory in a least one of those games, but they could make it even if they lost the last two.

Kentucky Wildcats (19-9)

Staring at the Wildcats record you might favor them to be selected. However, the SEC has really been down this year and they are not likely to put many teams into the big dance. Kentucky was crushed by the surprise team of the conference in South Carolina on Wednesday 77-59. Add to the fact their best wins are likely Tennessee and Florida it does not impress as much as one might think. Kentucky has 3 games left to play that include both Florida and No. 18 LSU meaning the Wildcats could lose at least two of those games. If that were to happen they would stand at 20-11 with a rather weak schedule losing 4 of the last 6 which would not exactly scream for attention.

UAB Blazers (19-8)

The Blazers are 2nd in Conference USA behind the Memphis Tigers who are ranked number 5 in the nation and could sneak in as a number 1 seed if the top 4 continue to have problems. However, UAB sports a pretty poor schedule and do not have any big out of conference wins. The Blazers stand at the 19-8 mark with 3 games to go and believe they really need to win all 3 to make a legitimate case for the postseason.

Cincinnati Bearcats (18-10)

The question that the selection committee will have is not that if the Bearcats can play and contend with the NCAA Tournament teams, but how many Big East teams will contend in the big dance. The elite conference could put anywhere from 7-10 teams in the NCAA Tournament. Cincinnati still has a legitimate chance to get to a 20 win season with 3 games remaining with the weaker side of the conference. If they get to 20, they will most definitely be included into this year’s tournament.

USC Trojans (16-10)

Southern Cal’s resume looked like a lock a few weeks ago when they were standing at 15-6 in the Pac-10. However, the Trojans have now lost 4 of their last 5 and simply must turn things around before the season concludes. Luckily USC still has 4 games left meaning they have extra time to right the ship. In those final 4 games, the Trojans are 3-1 against those teams that are in the conference and they have already played once this season. Southern Cal could definitely use another 3-1 run to make up for the recent struggles.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (18-9)

The Cowboys were on the outside looking in just two weeks ago. Oklahoma State had come off a stretch where they had lost 4 out of 5 games and stood at 14-9. However, the Cowboys have knocked off 4 straight wins improving their resume quite a bit. Oklahoma State gets Kansas State, Baylor, and Oklahoma left to round out the season. The Cowboys are already 0-2 against Oklahoma and Baylor this season and they will need to find a way to avoid losing the last 3 games. Each win concretes their chances a little more considering the Big 12 has been pretty solid this season.

Michigan Wolverines (17-11)

Michigan’s chances have took a plummet during the latter part of the season. The Wolverines have lost 8 of their last 12 games dropping down the Big Ten rankings like a falling rock. However, Michigan still can get into the March spectacle with 4 final games left on the schedule. Michigan plays Purdue tonight and many think that is a must win for the Wolverines to continue to have NCAA postseason hopes. Going out on a limb and saying the Wolverines get the win over Purdue tonight, then they still get Minnesota twice and Wisconsin to bring in a few more wins to help the cause.

Which two (2) of these bubble teams DO NOT belong in the NCAA tournament? (Choose Two)

  • Notre Dame (16-11) (53%, 141 Votes)
  • USC (16-10) (45%, 118 Votes)
  • Michigan (17-11) (24%, 63 Votes)
  • Virginia Tech (17-10) (22%, 58 Votes)
  • UAB (19-8) (19%, 50 Votes)
  • Kentucky (19-9) (16%, 43 Votes)
  • Cincinnati (18-10) (12%, 32 Votes)
  • Oklahoma St. (18-9) (3%, 8 Votes)
  • Boston College (20-9) (2%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 264

2009 NFL Draft Predictions (Mock Draft)

February 22nd, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NFL Football   Comments Off on 2009 NFL Draft Predictions (Mock Draft)

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Looking for a good way to bet on NFL football during the off-season? One great way is to take advantage of the prop bet action Bodog (10% Cash Bonus – Click Here) and BetUS (100% Match-Play Bonus – Click Here) have regarding the picks in the 2009 NFL draft. There will be many different bets available at these books in trying to predict where some of the top superstars will land at the next level. Always one of the most popular bets headlining the NFL draft is picking who will be drafted number 1? Last week the NFL football experts got their first looks at some of the top college players through the NFL workout sessions and the NFL combines will take place over the next few weeks. Today I bring you the most up to date version of my top 10 mock draft picks which may provide assistance to those who look take advantage of the exciting prop bets from our sponsor sportsbooks.

1. Detroit Lions – QB Matthew Stafford (Georgia)

Detroit Lions new coach Jim Schwartz has hinted the idea of going after one of the top offensive lineman in the draft. However, Matthew Stafford will likely be one of the biggest winners of the NFL combines as the NFL scouts continue to be impressed by his poise and decision making ability. Stafford fits the mold of an NFL quarterback perfectly and his stock will rise over the next few weeks even more. The Lions might like to take a lineman, but they will take Stafford in hopes of him turning to a franchise quarterback.

2. St. Louis Rams – OT Eugene Monroe (Virginia)

Here is where the big debate begins. The Rams will definitely take the top lineman on the board to try and give running back Stephen Jackson some support in the running game. However Andre Smith, Eugene Monroe, Jason Smith, and Michael Oher are all outstanding talent that could go in the top 15. In what order is a tough question to answer. Smith might have been the leading candidate until some agent issues in the NFL workouts, and Monroe may have the most experience out of them all.

3. Kansas City Chiefs – LB Aaron Curry (Wake Forest)

This pick will be an interesting position. The Chiefs have a number of needs that they could address. If Stafford is somehow not selected by this point, the Chiefs may very well take him at number 3. However, expecting he is off the board filling the need on defense seems like the logical area to focus. Aaron Curry will be the biggest name on the defensive side in the draft and will also fill the need at line backer for the Chiefs.

4. Seattle Seahawks – WR Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech)

Crabtree drew a lot of attention last season after some big catches especially in the dramatic win over Texas. Crabtree will be the top WR in the 2009 class and seems to be destined for Seattle due to a major need for a star wide out on offense. The Seahawks ranked among the bottom 5 passing offenses in the NFL last season with not one receiver catching over 700 yards through the air.

5. Cleveland Browns – CB Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State)

The majority of draft experts predict the Browns to go after a big time defensive end with the number 5 selection. However, that would mean that either Everette Brown or Aaron Maybin would have to be picked at number 5. While that may be the outcome, I believe that is a little too much of a jump for both those DE’s. The Browns may resort to Malcom Jenkins as he is a great CB that could give them big play ability on defense which is what they are looking for in the first place.

6. Cincinnati Bengals – OT Andre Smith (Alabama)

Smith sat out of the Sugar Bowl due to breaking team rules. Since then, Smith has had some trouble as he walked out of the NFL first workout session. Due to those problems his stock will drop from the possible 1 or 2 pick he could have been. Cincinnati will address the lackluster offense. The Bengals likely pick Smith up at the number 6 spot to feel the urgent need on the horrible offensive front that allowed over 50 sacks last season.

7. Oakland Raiders – WR Jeremy Maclin (Missouri)

Oakland likely has the worse receiving core from top to bottom in the NFL and that will be a focal pointing heading into to this year’s draft. Zach Miller lead the Raiders receiving with 778 yards and the next Raider only brought in an embarrassing 366 yards. Maclin is a speedy receiver that could give Oakland a threat down the field which would improve the underachieving offense.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Jason Smith (Baylor)

The Jaguars very well could be the 3rd team inside the top 10 to select a premier offensive lineman. Jason Smith has impressed many NFL scouts through the early workouts and that should be enough to allow him to be picked up inside the top 10. Jacksonville feels their primary need up front with this selection.

9. Green Bay Packers – DE/OLB Aaron Maybin (Penn State)

Green Bay has turned over a new leaf with a new look on defense turning to a 3-4 scheme. The Packers will attempt to add some talent to that side of the ball. Maybin fits the mold of the defense the Packers will try to establish. Maybin can be a run stopper who could drop back into zone coverage that could be used well in a 3-4 type scenario.

10. San Francisco 49ers – QB Mark Sanchez (USC)

San Francisco would likely try to avoid drafting another quarterback in this year’s draft, but they may not be able to pass up Sanchez if he is still available. If they can not come to terms with accepting that decision, then the trading down option could be the best scenario for San Francisco to consider.

2009 American League East Preview

February 22nd, 2009 by Rodney James (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in MLB Baseball   Comments Off on 2009 American League East Preview

In 2008, the American League East took a turn for a complete surprise as the upstart Tampa Bay Devil Rays took the division, and then later the American League title in October. The beasts of the East; Boston and New York finished in second and third place respectively, with Boston garnering the wildcard, and the Yankees snapping their 13 season playoff streak and finishing 16 games above .500 and 8 games back. The Toronto Blue Jays finished 86-76 and 11 games back, and the Baltimore Orioles won 68 games, finishing 28.5 games out of first place.

A year after winning the American League Championship Series, before falling to Philadelphia in the World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays come into the season as the underdog in the American League East once again. Tampa Bay kept relatively quiet in the off-season, while their rivals, the Yankees and the Red Sox were active picking up additional talent.

Despite all the drama surrounding Manny Ramirez last season, Boston was still able to snag the wildcard, only to fall in the ALCS to the Rays. A full season with Jason Bay patrolling the outfield, along with the additions of Rocco Baldelli, Brad Penny, Takaski Saito and John Smoltz the Red Sox appear to be in a prime position to play October Baseball once again. Youngsters Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Justin Masterson will be turned heavily to with oft-injured Josh Beckett and Brad Penny in the middle of the rotation. Offensively, Boston will look to get a repeat season from AL MVP Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia hit .326 with 17 homeruns and 83 rbi’s for Boston. Jacoby Ellsbury brings lightning quick speed to the outfield, but will need to find more ways to get on base to please the Boston organization in 2009. As Boston continues to prime for the 2009 season in Key West Florida, the pundits are still debating if the decision to avoid surgery on David Ortiz’s wrist was a good decision. Ortiz had some of the lowest numbers in his career, a cause for concern for the Red Sox nation. It should be an excellent spring training battle at shortstop between Julio Lugo and Jed Lowrie

The Yankees had the huge off-season, picking up free agents pitchers C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. On the offensive side, Mark Teixeria was signed to a massive contract to shore up the first base position for the Yankees. The Yankees on paper, appear to have the firepower to win this division, but with the off season issue regarding Alex Rodriguez and steroids, the team will need to find a way to rally and concentrate on baseball. Catcher Jorge Posada looks to be regaining health after missing the ladder part of the 2008 season after having right shoulder surgery. Hideki Matsui is also coming off a season ending injury after having left knee surgery at the end of the 2008 season. The question around the Yankees spring training facility in Tampa Florida is whether Joba Chamberlain is best served as a starter or an 8th inning man? Mariano Rivera will once again take the duties as the closer for the Yankees.  Starting pitching will once again be the question mark for Joe Giradi’s squad, as Phil Hughes, Humberto Sanchez and Jason Johnson all look to be fighting for the fifth position in the rotation. 

The defending champion Tampa Bay Rays added Pat Burrell from Philadelphia to help bring some power to the lineup from the outfield position. The outfield is awfully crowded for the Rays who have B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford and Gabe Kapler already. Look for youngster Matt Joyce to get some at bats in the outfield for Tampa Bay as well. Evan Longoria will look to repeat his .272, 27, 85 2008 season as his stock in major league baseball continues to grow. Carl Crawford appears to be as close to 100% as he can be, after playing just over 100 games last season. The pitching staff last season turned into one of the more dynamic staffs in all of baseball, and will now add youngster David Price, the 6’6 lefthander out of Vanderbilt University. Most recently, Tampa Bay added reliever Jason Isringhausen to a minor league contract. Isringhausen may be a big help later in the season if he can regain his old pitching ways. 

The Baltimore Orioles come into Fort Lauderdale Florida with a few new faces. Baltimore picked up Ryan Freel, Ty Wiggington, Cesar Izturis and Gregg Zaun, all veterans, along with youngsters such as Rich Hill and Felix Pie. They also resigned All-Star second basemen, Brian Roberts. Baltimore had the American League’s worst ERA last year with a 5.51 era. This season Mark Hendrickson will be turned to, to eat up innings after finishing with a 5.45 era last season in Florida. Koji Uehara, a two time All Star in Japan will slide into the rotation along with Jeremy Guthrie. Youngsters Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones will seemingly get plenty of at bats for a team that is expected to finish at the bottom of the division again in 2009. Felix Pie amd Ryan Freel will have a spring training battle to see who can fill the other outfield position for Baltimore, while Luke Scott appears to be the team’s designated hitter.

The Toronto Blue Jays did not put forth much of an effort in the off season to show the fans they are going to attempt to compete at the top of the American League East. Additions of Michael Barrett, Kevin Millar, Mike Maroth and Matt Clement are hardly a sign of dominance. The Blue Jays do not appear to have a great deal of starting pitching depth beyond Roy Halladay and Jesse Litsch, so guys like Scott Richmond, David Purcey and Brian Burress will be forced to step right into the show. Vernon Wells and Alex Rios are nice plays and with Halladay, the Jays will have a staff ace.  However, this team has a lot of question marks and seems to be relying on too many young bats.

Who will win the AL East in 2009?

  • Boston Red Sox (34%, 23 Votes)
  • New York Yankees (31%, 21 Votes)
  • Tampa Bay Rays (18%, 12 Votes)
  • Baltimore Orioles (10%, 7 Votes)
  • Toronto Blue Jays (6%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 67

Tiger to Return at the WGC Accenture Match Play

February 21st, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in Golf / PGA Tour   Comments Off on Tiger to Return at the WGC Accenture Match Play

Tiger WoodsThe golfing world will finally witness the return of the living legend Tiger Woods after a long nearly nine month wait. Woods the sports biggest name and possibly best player to ever step on a course missed the majority of the second half of the season following his miraculous win at the U.S Open to have surgery on his left knee. Tiger had just pulled off one of the most clutch performances of his career in where he drained birdies two days in a row on the 18th hole once at the end of regulation and once on the final hole of an 18 hole playoff to force the match into a double overtime type scenario. Woods finally edged out Rocco Mediate on the 19th hole to win his 14th Major of his career in one of the most exciting golfing showdowns in Major history. Soon as people could realize the significance of the win and the heroism from playing on nearly one leg, Woods announced his year was over with season ending surgery. Well winter has come and nearly gone and the Tiger has yet to be seen. Until now that is, Woods has made it official that he will return next Wednesday at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. Not only will the PGA be revamped with the return of its biggest star, but all eyes will be on Woods to see how he performs on the knee that has plagued him for years. Major sportsbooks will be wide open on betting scenarios and prop bets in attempt to predict how one of the most popular athletes in the world will perform in his returning debut.

Tiger will make his return to in an event he has player very well in the past. Woods has won the WGC Accenture Match Play Tournament 3 different times in his career. This event is different than most as it breaks down the top 64 golfers in the world into a March Madness type tournament over 4 days. Lose one match and you are eliminated and players may be involved in two 18 hole matches in one day meaning that Tiger’s leg will have to be very healthy to hold up over the weekend. The Tournament will move to untamed ground as it moves to the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Marana, Arizona for the very first time. However, Tiger is usually the favorite no matter what course the PGA Tour attends. Woods return comes at a great time for the sport of Golf considering they have been hit hard by economic times and ratings plummeted during Woods’ absence from the sport. Tiger will return will be one of the most anticipated and widely viewed events of the season and it will be interesting to see how everything shakes out.

Woods numbers in the match play event speak volumes for his dominance over the sport. Tiger has played in 37 events in the WGC Match Play event throughout his career with a sporty 31-6 all-time record. Out of the 64 competitors to take the course next Thursday Davis Love III is has the 2nd most matches trailing Woods by 11 matches. Not to mention Tiger holds the most dominating Match Play Championship defeat in the event’s history when he beat Stewart Cink last season 8 and 7. Tiger also has won 15 of the 26 WGC events in his professional career. That means that Woods has won 57% of the WGC events he has entered, simply incredible. However, leading into next week’s event many have distorted views on how the superstar will perform. Many experts believe that it will take Woods some time to regain dominance after nearly missing the entire winter without swinging a club. Then again there are many like myself who believe if the man could win the U.S Open on one leg, then shouldn’t he be fine on two?

The betting props and odds have yet to be released at most sportsbooks for next week’s event, but rest assure there will be plenty of opportunities to place wagers in the midst of Tiger’s return. Bodog Sportsbook will have odds available for predicting how far Tiger will go and odds for each round he could get knocked out. Bodog already list Woods as already the leading favorite to win the Masters which is the first major of the year every April at an amazing 2/1 odds. In Golf, normally your favorites range in the 10/1 range, but 2/1 is simply amazing for peoples expectation of the best golfer on the planet. Tiger is also listed as a huge favorite to win the British Open that takes place in July standing at 9/4 odds. However, next week’s betting figures will offer a lot more opportunities for people looking to gamble on Tiger’s return. There will be odds at most sportsbooks for each match play and tons of prop bets. Tiger has almost been expected to come back in this Tournament and win hands down. That is a lot of expectation for a man who has not swung a club very much through the off-season fresh off serious surgery. However, many believe that Tiger will once again electrify the sports world in a way in which only he can. Then again are we building him up to a level above reality?

A-Rod will not be the last…

February 19th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in MLB Baseball   Comments Off on A-Rod will not be the last…

ARodI know it has been an on-going week of steroids and substance abuse talk revolving around one of the biggest names in baseball in New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez. I apologize to all those who are reading and are like not another story on A-Rod. I was going to stay away from the topic all together, but figured they are few sides to these steroids stories that many people are unaware of.  Sadly performance enhancers topic seems to headline Major League Baseball every week. While there are many new drug test proposed by the MLB people need to realize the real problems with baseball substance abuse in today’s society. Basically breaking this thing down plain and simple the problem that Major League Baseball is having starts many years before these star athletes ever reach this elite league of superstars. Simply put, if you want to keep the performance enhancing substances out of the big leagues they must start to keep them out of the colleges and high schools.

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This topic may have been hit on briefly by a few people, but nobody really refers to this problem when making the connection to the MLB. Speaking as a high school standout in baseball that later went on to play college baseball I feel it is important to bring the truth to doorstep to all those that do not understand why players would take these substances. High schools are now facing the exact same problems with steroids and substance abuses with sports athletes, especially baseball players. The majority of high school athletes can pass a physical and be cleared to play on most varsity levels. While you may not hear about steroids use in your local home town schools, that does not mean they are not there. As a high school player, I was asked on multiple occasions if I ever wanted to take steroids by teammates that were currently using them. Considering I only weighed 135lbs my entire career in high school I figured they would not help myself enough. However, that did not stop many teammates from using them on a consistent basis. There was an unspoken rule that you accepted to those players that took performance enhancers. The simple rule was that it was not to be talked about, but between teammates. While many may jump to say that this was just one high school and not a large majority. There were plenty of opportunities and summer leagues where players met up with other players from different schools and again there were countless players who were open to admit using steroids and performance enhancers.  While many of these players did this type of behavior in the off-season, some continued all year long.

The reason I am preaching this reality is for people to understand the need for enforcing strong regulations for drug testing in early ages of sports. College athletes are at an all-time high with steroid use and performance enhancing abuse. When I signed on the dotted line on the NCAA transcript back some 5 years ago to confirm that I was subject to any drug test at any time, I understood that agreement. I also understood as I signed that line that the chances of me really ever being tested were slim to none. I believe that is the problem with teams today. There are not enough mandatory drug screenings, and many players can fall through the cracks. While some do make mandatory screenings so many times a year, players are often aware of these drug test long before they happen giving them plenty of time to stay off the substances or at least long enough to past the test. Until, the rules and regulations take a big change you are going to continue to have these issues in the years to come. It is not surprising one bit that Alex Rodriguez one of the biggest names in the sport has used a type of performance enhancing product, because if the truth was to actually come out (which it never will) you would be absolutely shocked at the number of players that have used these types of drugs at some time or another in their career. For MLB athletes, I would expect no less than the 70% range.

I have seen arguments were people have tried to claim that using these steroids make no big impact on baseball or performance on the field. Those people could never be so wrong. I have seen players go to take these drugs and start hitting balls they never could dream of. For people to try and say that it does not affect the game of baseball, are simply in a delusional world. The sad thing steroids really do is they take away from the level of play from some of the greats of the old-age of baseball. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Hank Aaron were some of the names that could change the game with a swing of the bat. Today there are many guys that can change the game with a swing of the bat, or the injection of a needle. The stats from the legends of the past mean nothing to the new players juiced on some inhuman type advantage. The all-time greats that revolutionized the game may lose their value to history because their stats will fall to the new rise and new age of this type of play edged by an unfair advantage. Also, even more disappointing is to those players that are not using or have never used these products. Imagine a player breaking out with 60+ homeruns, and breaking RBI records that is doing it the right way. The majority of America will never believe they have not used performance enhancers in today’s game. Unfortunately, the game of baseball has been tarnished even if it is the greatest game in the world. What is even more unfortunate, is that there is no doubt that Alex Rodriguez will not be the last hero to fall victim to performance enhancements.

March Madness Outlook

February 16th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in NCAA Basketball   3 Comments »

The College Basketball season enters the final 4 weeks of basketball before we head into the always exciting conference championships and March Madness. We have some numerous events take place already on the college hoops stage with upsets, last second buzzer beaters, to instant classics, and much more. The rest of the season promises to be just as exciting and we will take a look what to possibly expect when the NCAA Tournament rolls around with a prediction of number 1 seeds, along with teams to watch out for, and who could possibly win it all.

The 2009 season has seen many different number 1 teams fall, and a few other teams completely fall apart. However, there are a few that have been rather stellar throughout the year and have a great chance at locking up a number 1 seed in March. The most probable team to lock up a number 1 is the Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma stands right now at a 23-1 record for the season along with 13 straight wins since their lone loss to Arkansas in late December. Oklahoma has narrowly escaped quite a few games this season but has managed to get the wins none the less. However, Oklahoma will really get tested in their final 5 games of the season with road trips to Missouri and Texas while also hosting Kansas. Oklahoma benefits from teams like Duke, Wake Forest, Louisville, all having at least 4 losses which are also the teams ranked 4-7 nationally. Even if the Sooners lose 1 or possibly 2 of the last 5 they still have a good chance to receive a number 1 seed because they only have 1 loss at this point in the year. While many have criticized the Sooners schedule, Blake Griffin (22ppg, 13rpg) has proven to be one of the best players in the nation and will likely give Oklahoma a chance to win any game they play in for the rest of the season no matter who they play. Given the Sooners do not completely fall apart they should be a safe bet to holding down the number 1 spot in March.

Another number one seed will likely come out of the best conference in basketball throughout 2009 which is the Big East. The Connecticut Huskies has held the number 1 ranking in America over the last two weeks and they will have a great shot to finish the year strong. Pittsburgh is another strong team that will have a chance as well. The Panthers were the top ranked team in America for a good while during the early part of the year, but suffered two losses rather close together to top 15 teams Louisville and Villanova. However, both of these two teams are first and second in the conference and will battle two more times this year including a showdown tonight at Gampel Pavilion. It is safe to say if one of those teams could win both games they could likely win the Big East will continuing to be one of the top ranked teams in the country. Pittsburgh and Connecticut have only 5 games left to play and you would have to give the Huskies the advantage with their outstanding defense and excellent rebounding. If these two teams split, Connecticut will still have the edge with one less loss at this point in the season and many would have to consider them the biggest favorite to capture a number one seed. However, it is too early to count out Pittsburgh heading into tonight’s big game.

The North Carolina Tarheels came out of the gates this season as strong as any team in recent history. North Carolina won 13 straight games in dominating fashion and had some fans believing in an undefeated campaign. However, the Tarheels would lose 2 out of the next 3 to unranked Boston College and also Wake Forest. Since those slips, North Carolina has returned to early season form with 9 straight wins including double digit victories over Clemson and Duke. The Tarheels have a rather light schedule ahead of them with the season finale at home against Duke once again. North Carolina can lose 1 game and still become a number one seed, but considering how well they have been playing they may not lose any. Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, and Wayne Ellington make up an all-star type college hoops lineup and there is no doubt they possess the most talent in America.

The final number one seed could be up for grabs. Pittsburgh will have the best opportunity even with their two match-ups with Connecticut that could go either way. The Panthers only have two losses and if they could avoid dropping both to the Huskies they have the best shot at locking up the final number one seed. However, teams like Memphis and Louisville still have legitimate chances. Louisville suffered their 5th loss of the season and will take a slide towards the bottom of the top 10. However if they could get some help from Connecticut taking down Pittsburgh once or twice, the Cardinals will also get Pittsburgh and they have already beat them once this year. Memphis on the other hand is a team that lacks the strength of schedule or RPI as the top teams, but they have racked up 16 straight wins with the optimistic outlook of an easy schedule. The Tigers could very well have the best chance with the other team’s difficult schedules to rally and earn the final number one position in the NCAA Tournament.

Now we move on to one of the more difficult task in predicting a team that many would not expect to turn the NCAA Tournament into their Cinderella story in 2009. Davidson was one similar scenario last year when they seemingly came out of nowhere to make the Elite 8 before losing to Kansas who went on to win the National Championship. There are some teams that would love to impact the tournament this season and make similar noise. One team that could likely breakout in 2009 Tournament time is the Marquette Golden Eagles. Marquette has played against the best teams in America all season as has hung right with the best of them and is currently only one game behind Connecticut in the Big East. The Golden Eagles are a fast pace team that could give the usual power teams a lot of problems with players like Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews. Another team that could make an impact in the tournament is an unlikely wonder out of the SEC and the only unranked team we have mentioned in the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gamecocks have really played well behind new coach Darrin Horn. After two straight seasons of 15 or more losses, the Gamecocks now stand at 18-5 and in the lead of the SEC East division. South Carolina was definitely not considered to even make the Tournament this year much less make an impact in the spectacle. However, South Carolina is a scrappy bunch lead by Devan Downey who is one of the better guards in America. South Carolina has won with some exciting close games this year in the SEC and if they can hang in some ball games they will be tough to beat late in games. All of these teams appear to have the ability to surprise some teams, but we never know what will truly shake out. One thing is for certain and that is the uncertain in March.

Daytona 500 Preview & Odds

February 13th, 2009 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor) | Posted in Nascar / Auto Racing   Comments Off on Daytona 500 Preview & Odds

The 51st running of the Daytona 500 will occur this Sunday afternoon live from the famed Daytona International Speedway. The ultimate racing spectacle will be seen by millions around the world as it is the biggest racing event of our time. Daytona is a famed 2.5 mile track with restrictor plate racing that keeps the cars in close tight packs at speeds nearing 200mph giving fans that most exciting racing imaginable. Last week, the Budweiser Shootout kicked off the week and 2007 Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick made a last lap pass to win his first Bud Shootout. Harvick has always performed rather well at Daytona even though he is not known as a restrictor plate racer. Harvick will lead a cast of veteran drivers fighting for the biggest trophy in motorsports this Sunday.

There are so many factors that determine crowning a winner at the high banks of Daytona. You need a car that of course has a lot of horsepower, it needs to handle well, and stay out of trouble in the race. However, even the best of cars can go from the lead to the tail of the pack in a split second if they lose the draft. Drivers can not lose focus at anytime as they try and position themselves for a chance to be there at the end. If they are there at the end then they still need the right drafting help and a little bit of luck to score a victory. It truly is one of the most exciting events in sports. Last year’s Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman left the #12 Alltel Penkse Dodge last season, and will driver for Stewart-Haas racing this year in the #39 US Army Chevrolet. Although, Newman victory last year was a big surprise he has had a strong car this week in speedweeks. However, Newman was wrecked in the Gatorade 125 qualifying races on Thursday and will start in a backup car come Sunday afternoon.

Tony Stewart left Joe Gibbs Racing last season to take control of what is now Stewart-Haas racing driving the #14 Office Depot/Old Spice machine. Stewart has always run well at the restrictor plate tracks Daytona and Talladega. The driver of the #14 machine has been strong all week in his own ride including a 2nd place finish in the duel races on Thursday. Stewart will be one of the leading favorites to win this Sunday and score his first ever Daytona 500 victory. Kyle Busch had a dominating season last year winning 8 races and started off 2009 strong with a victory in the Gatorade 125 on Thursday. Busch won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July last season and he has won nearly ever track on the tour. Winning the Daytona 500 would be fitting for the young talent considering his success over the last year or so of racing. Busch is the overall favorite heading into this Sunday.

One thing is certain heading into the Daytona 500 and that is that all of the Hendrick Racing cars should be very strong. Mark Martin at 50 years of age and his first year with Hendrick qualified on the outside pole while appearing to have the fastest car on Thursday. Martin lost the 2007 Daytona 500 by near inches to Kevin Harvick and would love nothing more than to win the race that has eluded him through his career. Martin has an amazing 4 runner-up finishes in the event and he should have a good chance to finally get the win this weekend. Teammates Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr all having considerable chances to win as well this Sunday. Jeff Gordon won the other Gatorade 125 on Thursday and will go after his 4th Daytona 500 victory to add to his remarkable career. Jimmie Johnson is the defending back to back to back Champion in the Spring Cup Series only the 2nd driver to ever accomplish the feat. Johnson has also run well all week and the 2006 Daytona 500 could be a force on Sunday. Finally, the #88 car driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr will be certainly watched by many. Earnhardt is always a favorite at the restrictor plate tracks considering his overwhelming talent and understanding of the draft. Earnhardt won the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade 125 last season, but has had trouble through the week including a wreck in the Shootout and tire problems in the duel race that has not allowed him to get a quality finish. However, Earnhardt is without much doubt probably the best driver at the big super speedways and will attempt to make some noise in attempt to capture his 2nd Daytona 500 victory.

Other drivers to watch out for in the field include the young 18 year old Joey Logano. Logano may have flown under the radar through speedweeks after a disappointing performance in the Bud Shootout. However, the young talent opened some eyes in the 1st duel race on Thursday with a 3rd place finish behind Tony Stewart. Logano is already the youngest driver to start a race at Daytona and he definitely has the talent to pull off what would be one of the most surprising of victories due to his age and inexperience to win the Great American Race. Carl Edwards led the Sprint Cup Series last season with 9 wins, but has failed to consistently run up front this week. Edwards drew a lot of scrutiny after taking out nearly an entire field last year at Talladega and I believe it is safe to say that restrictor plate racing is not his best quality, but do not misunderstand Edwards has all the ability in the world to get up front and challenge for the win. However, considering the way he has looked thus far in the week I would not have him in the fantasy lineups this week.

There are a few more young guys to take a look at heading into the big event this weekend. While some of these drivers may not be individuals with great shots of winning, they are still some that could surprise a lot of people on Sunday. Among these dark horses is A.J Allmendinger, who had to race his way into the event on Thursday. Allmendinger was not even sure he would have a chance at making the Daytona 500, but the driver of the #44 car has looked rather impressive this week. Despite not having much success on the Cup side, Allmendinger has a load of talent that is in dire need to be unraveled. Jamie McMurrary topped the speed charts in final practice #26 Crown Royal Ford is another car that could emerge as a front runner this weekend. Drivers like Brian Vickers, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Kasey Kahne are also other drivers that deserve to keep an eye on this Sunday as well.

Picking racing drivers may be a difficult task to come by, but if you looking at placing a bet or picking a fantasy lineup then let me give a few choices for Sunday. I really like Mark Martin in the event to run strong. The savvy veteran has a knack for staying out of trouble and you can get him for good odds in fantasy lineups and well as good odds to win the event in the sports books. Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Kyle Busch would also equally be thrown in there as the biggest favorites to win the Daytona 500 this weekend. Many believe Stewart does not have the equipment to stay up front, but I really beg to differ considering his amazing talent at these size tracks. One final name to throw into the list as a dark horse include the #83 Toyota Red Bull Racing car driven by Brian Vickers.

Also a large cast of Spring Cup drivers will also participate in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday at Daytona that should be interesting as well. Among some of the notable names that will participate include Dale Earnhardt Jr, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, and more.

Daytona 500 Betting Odds From BetUS Sportsbook:
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Dale Earnhardt Jr: 6/1
Mark Martin: 10/1
Jimmie Johnson: 6/1
Kevin Harvick: 15/1
Denny Hamlin: 12/1
Kyle Busch: 5/1
Joey Logano: 40/1
Tony Stewart: 7/1
Jeff Gordon: 5/1
Carl Edwards: 10/1
Kasey Kahne: 35/1
Brian Vickers: 40/1