Doc Naismith’s best bets, and some OK Tourney News

If the Louisville Cardinals had to skip an NCAA basketball tournament, this was probably the one to miss. 2006 looks like a very big Blue Year. All four No. 1 seeds — Duke, Villanova, Connecticut and Memphis — wear blue. And Kentucky, too.

How likely is the champ to be blue?

Odds-on, according to LEO sports analyst Dr. William “Doc” Naismith, who also makes the betting line at the Caliente Sports Book in Mexico.

“The NCAA has gotten very good at selecting its No. 1 seeds, then greasing them along the easiest paths to the Final Four,” Naismith explained. “If it was a legitimate tournament, rather than a made-for-TV survivor epic, the results might vary. But nowadays it’s almost an upset when any team other than a No. 1 seed wins it.”
Locally, Indiana made the tournament, but Louisville did not. The Cards did earn a No. 1 seed in the National Invitation Tournament and open at home, hoping to sail into the NIT finals in New York.

Here’s a look ahead:

TIJUANA — Doc Naismith installs Duke and Connecticut as 4-1 NCAA co-favorites in the Caliente futures book. Memphis is 7-1, with Villanova at 8-1.
After the No. 1 seeds, Ohio State, North Carolina, UCLA and Gonzaga are 10-1.
Then Iowa, Syracuse, Kansas and Florida are at 12-1.
Past champions Michigan State, Indiana and California are 15-1, as are Boston College and Washington.
Naismith confided that he lumped all of his “sucker bets” together at 20-1, “so they’ll be easy to find.” That’s Illinois, Tennessee, Texas, Kentucky, Arizona, George Washington and Pittsburgh.
At 25-1 are West Virginia, Marquette, Oklahoma, LSU, Arkansas and Pacific.

The rest?

“Call me up to bet on Kent State or Winthrop, and you can name your own odds,” said the Doc. “I’ll take your money.”
Naismith said longshots do win early-round games and play a key role in office pools. “That’s when you get your Valparaisos and Green Bay Cheeseheads.”
The Cheeseheads of 2006?
“I’d tab Southern Illinois, Pacific, Northern Iowa and Wichita.”

Meanwhile …
At SALT LAKE CITY — Indiana breezes past San Diego State, then conquers Gonzaga in overtime to reach the Sweet 16. Rumors circulate that Marquette’s Tom Crean or Washington’s Lorenzo Romar will be the new IU coach, succeeding Mike Davis.

PHILADELPHIA — Kentucky waltzes past UAB, then takes listless Connecticut to the wire before losing 72-65.

MANCHESTER, Ky. — Clay County Sheriff Danny “Crusher” Boles announces that Kentucky guard Patrick Sparks will join his force as a deputy.

DAYTON — Northern Iowa upsets Georgetown. Minutes later, Southern Illinois knocks off West Virginia.

FRANKFORT — By a 95-5 vote, the Kentucky House of Representatives budgets $75 million for a new 22,000-seat basketball arena in Louisville. The bill specifies the arena be called Ten Commandments Hall.

LOUISVILLE — Following an NIT victory over Stanford, Louisville coach Rick Pitino announces the Cards will meet Notre Dame in a 2006-07 season opening game in Rome, Italy. Pope Gregory XVI is set to toss up the first ball.

ATLANTA — Duke controls the NCAA Atlanta regional with easy victories over Syracuse and California.

WASHINGTON — North Carolina defeats the Southern Illinois Salukis and Connecticut Huskies.

MINNEAPOLIS — Ohio State stops Oklahoma, then slips past Pacific.

OAKLAND — Indiana nips UCLA then defeats Kansas to reach the Final Four.

MANCHESTER, KY. — Sheriff Boles announces that new deputy Patrick Sparks will be allowed to carry 100 bullets, in case he has to shoot a suspect from beyond the 3-point line.

NEW YORK — Louisville faces Oklahoma State in the NIT finals in New York. In an interesting turn of events, ex-Cowboys coach Eddie Sutton, who had stepped aside in favor of son Sean after a driving problem, retakes the Oklahoma State reins for one game when Sean is unable to coach the team. (Sean is taking the ACT.) Louisville nips Oklahoma State 46-45 on Brian Johnson’s tip-in at the buzzer for its second NIT title.

ALPINE, Texas — Vice President Dick Cheney “wings” Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight in a hunting accident.

INDIANAPOLIS — Duke bursts Indiana’s bubble in one semi-final, while North Carolina shakes Oklahoma awake.

INDIANAPOLIS — North Carolina (another blue team) stops Duke 88-80 to capture its fourth NCAA crown.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Louisville coach Rick Pitino, accompanied by Catherine Zeta-Jones and her husband Michael Douglas at a party fund-raiser in Portsmouth, N.H., says he has given no thought to seeking the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

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