Thursday, November 06, 2014

Morning News: Tom Crean Troubles, Alex Rosenberg, Shaqquan Aaron, And Title Odds

"Coach Crean, your thoughts on how the last week has gone?"

Off-Court Troubles For Indiana It hasn't been the best week for Indiana basketball. First, Emmitt Holt hit teammate Devin Davis with his car. Then, Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson were suspended for failing drug tests. Holt, Williams and Robinson were all given fake "four game suspensions" (fake because they'll include two exhibitions and two SWAC cupcakes, getting the kids back for Game #3 against SMU), but Davis will be in the hospital for a while and can't even think about playing basketball again anytime soon.

The vultures are out for Tom Crean over this, but we've seen this before. In reality, nobody really cares that much about these off-court problems. If Tom Crean was winning Big Ten titles, nobody would care at all. But I argued back in April that I thought Tom Crean might end up on the hot seat this season. The Hoosiers are unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament this season, and that would mark five times in seven seasons that Crean has missed the tourney. He has finished higher than fifth place in the Big Ten only once, and never made it past a Sweet 16. That is what the real problem is. But these off court issues will give the fans and boosters a good excuse for getting rid of Crean if this season really goes as poorly as it seems to be heading.

Alex Rosenberg To Miss The Season The Ivy League has some bizarre rules, namely due to the fact that Ivy League schools like to feel better than other sports leagues. One of these rules is that they effectively don't have the concept of a "redshirt". You are expected to show up on campus and use your four years of eligibility in four years. So that brings us to Columbia's best basketball player, Alex Rosenberg, who was due to miss around two months with an injury. Rather than only play half of his senior season he will take the year off. But because of Ivy League rules, he will actually have to withdraw from the school entirely, and so he will spend the year off campus and not taking any classes. The presumption is that he'll apply to come back to the school in 2015-16 and that the Ivy League will approve a waiver for him to play another year of basketball. But that process will have to play out next summer.

Columbia was a dark horse to challenge Harvard in the Ivy League, but this loss probably ends those hopes. On the plus side for Columbia, this should make them significantly better in 2015-16.

Shaqquan Aaron Not Yet Cleared Aaron is arguably Louisville's top recruit this season. He was #30 in the Rivals Top 150. Certainly Louisville has a very deep 2014 recruiting class, but they also lost three of five starters and need the infusion of talent. Rick Pitino is still saying publicly that he expects Aaron to be cleared, so there's no reason for Louisville fans to panic, but this is a story to keep an eye on with the regular season starting next week.

Preseason Title Odds For those curious, these are the preseason national title odds for college basketball. In the least surprising news, the Kentucky odds are ridiculously poor value. As a good rule of thumb, you should never bet on the favorites preseason for the national title, because there's just too much randomness in a one-and-done tournament. But with the Kentucky hype, the odds have come down to 2-to-1. The thing to remember is that, in general, the best team in the nation enters the NCAA Tournament with something around a 25% chance of winning it all. So even if Kentucky ends up the #1 team in the nation, they still should only be at around 3-to-1 or 7-to-2 odds in March. Before they've played a game and we know if injuries/suspension/weirdness happens? Anything less than 6-to-1 is a sucker bet.

If you want to look for value in preseason title odds, you need to get really good odds. You're buying a lottery ticket, so make sure it's worthwhile if it pays off. Utah at 100-to-1 or Syracuse at 50-to-1 are examples of possible lottery tickets potentially worth throwing a few bucks on.

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