John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats lead the way in this department, hoping to go from an NIT dismissal back to winning the “Big Dance.” Which of these teams looks set to storm the season, according to the college basketball odds? It could be a very interesting season for NCAA basketball betting!
Kentucky may not get four years out of this year’s recruiting class, but the additions of Andrew Harrison and Julius Randle headline an “Elite Eight” of freshmen arrivals. Calipari has also has pursued a promising 2014 lineup, including offers to guards James Blackmon and Devin Booker. Keep an eye on them for your future sports picks.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State was bounced in its “Big Dance” opener against the Oregon Ducks, while giving up 73 PPG through its last five contests. Travis Ford looks to improve defense and add some three-point power with new guard Stevie Clark, while center Gary Gaskins share the middle with Marek Soucek.
Memphis won its third straight Conference USA tournament title, but fared poorly in “March Madness” with a 54-52 squeaker over Saint Mary’s and a 70-48 loss to Michigan State. The Tigers should return to glory this year with new standout forwards Austin Nichols and Nick King.
Colorado was bounced in last year’s Pacific-12 quarterfinals, while exiting the NCAA Tournament in its first matchup against the Illinois Fighting Illini. Tad Boyle’s troops could be a group to watch this year as Jaron Hopkins, who chose the Buffaloes over an in-state stay with the Arizona Wildcats.
Wisconsin finds itself in a loaded Big Ten Conference, but looks to recover after losing to Ohio State in last year’s title matchup, 50-43. The Badgers hope to rise back to contention with the likes of forward Nigel Hayes and guard Bronson Koenig headed to Madison.
Saint Louis Billikens
Saint Louis has reached the “Big Dance” for two straight years, while also winning 2013’s Atlantic 10 Conference title. Jim Crews stays on as head coach after replacing the deceased Rick Majerus, with the program still on the rise.
Connecticut was ineligible for last year’s postseason but should be a top challenger in the newly-formed American Athletic Conference. The Huskies have drawn four-star recruit Kentan Facey from New York at center, while retaining Shabazz Napier (17.1 PPG, 4.6 APG) and DeAndre Daniels (5.5 RPG, 1.5 BPG).
Creighton finished its stay with the Missouri Valley Conference, winning a second straight tourney title and now moving to the Big East. The Bluejays should be able to come out swinging against its new rivals, with seniors Doug McDermott (23.3 PPG) and Grant Gibbs (5.8 APG) staying aboard.
Virginia Commonwealth held its own during the team’s first year of Atlantic 10 Conference play, reaching the tourney’s championship game. Shaka Smart has recruited a slew of three-star recruits from all over the east coast, while junior Trevon Graham returns after leading in scoring (15.1 PPG).
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