Kruger And Wright Downplay Oklahoma’s Early Season Romp Of Villanova

“[Oklahoma] was close to a Final Four team at that time of the year,” he said. Oklahoma dominated Villanova, winning the neutral court contest in Hawaii, 78-55.. Meanwhile, the Wildcats shot 32% from the field, including a putrid 4-32 from beyond the three-point stripe.

“I see very little carryover,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said during a Final Four conference call on Monday. It’s almost like we played them last year.”

That result doesn’t seem to bode well for Villanova. However, both coaches downplayed its significance.

We’ll see which team is playing at a championship level on Saturday.

Villanova and Oklahoma played each other during the non conference portions of their schedules in early December and the result was far from kind to the Wildcats. “They’re doing things differently, we’re doing things differently. I think we just got to that point, Saturday night, of playing like a Final Four team.”

They did, actually.

“We were both ranked in the Top 10 going into that game,” he said during the conference call. We really used that [game] as a bar.”

Villanova coach Jay Wright elaborated a bit more.

It’s clear Wright believes his team is much better equipped this time around.

Of course, it makes sense that ACC foes North Carolina and Syracuse are familiar with each other, but the other National Semifinal match-up will also be a rematch.

The Final Four is set and familiarity abounds.

The Sooners were paced by five players in double figures, led by Isaiah Cousins’ 19 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds, along with Buddy Hield’s 18 points. “We weren’t even close at that time. “But, when that game unfolded, it was very clear that Oklahoma was playing like a top ten/top five team and we were not

NBA bets on winning back fans | Reuters

After spending much of summer demanding a trade, Bryant is expected to be on the floor for the Lakers despite a wrist injury that kept him out of the team’s final exhibition contest.

NEW YORK After a summer spent expanding its global brand with exhibition games from Shanghai to Rome, the NBA opens a new season on Tuesday looking to win back home fans following a gambling scandal which rocked the sport to its core.

Garnett, who came to Boston in a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, joins Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in Beantown, instantly transforming the crumbling Celtics into championship contenders.

San Antonio will be part of the opening night action against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Utah Jazz take on the Golden State Warriors.

Over the last decade, none have been better at collecting championships than the San Antonio Spurs, who enter the new campaign seeking their fifth title in 10 years.

Stung by the failure, James dedicated himself to an off-season of intense training in his bid to guide the Cavaliers to the championship and secure his place among the game’s greats.

LeBron James is no stranger to the spotlight and is certain to be the focus of attention again after leading the Cavaliers to the NBA finals for the first time last year only to be swept in four games by the Spurs.

Since the Rockets made Yao the top selection in the 2002 NBA draft, the towering 7ft 6ins center has blossomed into one of the NBA’s most dominant players and one of world’s most recognizable athletes.

In Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal the Miami Heat still pack the NBA’s best one-two punch and if the two all-stars can stay healthy another championship could be headed to South Florida.

By Steve Keating

| NEW YORK

There appears, however, to be a new powerhouse taking shape in the Eastern Conference with 10-times all-star Kevin Garnett’s arrival in Boston.

The Phoenix Suns and their high-octane offence led by twice MVP Steve Nash, once again look the best in the West alongside the Spurs and Dallas Mavericks.

The aging Spurs will have a familiar look with 12 players back from last year’s squad, former league and playoff MVP Tim Duncan leading an all-star international cast that includes Frenchman Tony Parker and Argentine Manu Ginobili.

Referee Tim Donaghy’ admission he bet on games he officiated and passed on inside information to bookies has inflicted severe damage to the NBA’s credibility with the toll likely to mount as investigations continue.

While restoring integrity will be the NBA’s newest priority, the goal for the league’s 30 teams remains the same — winning a title.

The Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons also look ready to figure into the Eastern Conference battle.

NBA commissioner David Stern dismissed the incident as nothing more than a rogue employee but the league must now concentrate on regaining the confidence of American and Canadian fans instead of wooing interest abroad.

Yao, however, could be in for some stiff competition off the court following the arrival of compatriot Yi Jianlian, who has hogged the international spotlight since the Milwaukee Bucks took the seven-footer with the sixth overall selection in this year’s draft.

The night’s other matchup will see two of the league’s marketing dynamos clash when Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers host Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets.

Trade rumors have once again started to circulate, the Chicago Bulls reportedly making another bid for Bryant.

Betting on basketball akin to investing.

You can’t actually make bets – – they’re only for “entertainment purposes” – – but many of us were left scratching our heads about the favorites for the major awards.

When it comes to sports, the numbers for the most part don’t lie.


Like investing, gambling has a lingo that you need to learn in order to be successful. Kansas (boy did Holy Cross give the Jayhawks a scare!) isn’t going to announce that the NCAA is investigating it for improperly recognizing hundreds of points scored in Big 12 games from 1999.

That’s what sleep deprivation does to you folks.

 Top of page

All in all, I made six bets on Thursday and won none, for a total loss of $100. But another part of me is slightly worried. Betting the money line means you think a team will win the game outright, regardless of the spread.

My friend, being a prudent lawyer, decided to bet $22 dollars on Pepperdine’s opponent, Wake Forest. “Best bet on the board?” observed my friend Jamey Tesler, “Ian McKellen for Best Supporting Actor at 6-1. (Go Quakers!) Part of me wants to bet big on Penn (they were four and a half point underdogs as I wrote this) so I can reap the financial rewards when they win. Some of the odds did seem pretty good. Hey, I actually thought the Waves would win the game outright (similar to how many investors were convinced back in early 2000 that tech stocks could only go higher and higher) and even have a chance of upsetting Oregon in the second round. OK, there certainly has been some point shaving in the past – – the City College of New York scandal of the 1950s comes to mind – – but that doesn’t even come close to the scam that was Enron.

Betting on basketball isn’t even as risky as you might think. Kind of like the way VCs invest in many risky companies with the hopes of having one big initial public offering make up for all the flops, I made several “money line” bets on huge underdogs. When the color commentator pointed out that Tulsa is a small team, I probably did not need to act as if he was insulting my mother.

In addition to the NCAA action, you can also get odds for the Oscars. What if I bet on Penn with the spread and they don’t win but lose by only three? Would it make me happy to profit from a Penn defeat? This is too disturbing a thought to consider any further.

Odds for the Oscars

I, however, was not so wise. Grrr)

With that in mind, I have no idea what to do when my beloved alma mater Penn plays California on Friday. But after spending most of Thursday watching college basketball at the Paris Casino’s sports book in Las Vegas, I can safely say that betting on the NCAA Tournament has a lot in common with investing in stocks.

Betting on sports is legal in Nevada and most of the casinos in Vegas have a section called the sports book where people place their bets and watch the games. Kent State and Missouri both covered. Gandalf, baby!”

Moulin Rouge was listed at 3-1 to win Best Picture: the second favorite behind A Beautiful Mind. Penn didn’t cover, losing by 7 after this story was published. Huh? Ewan McGregor singing Elton John (quite badly I might add) is more worthy of the cinema’s highest honor than The Lord of the Rings, Gosford Park or In the Bedroom? Whatever.

(Disgruntled writer’s note: As it turned out, my fears were for naught. If Pepperdine covered, we’d both win $120.

LAS VEGAS (CNN/Money) – This will be blasphemy to hardcore followers of Wall Street, those who think of the market as a rational way to try and accumulate wealth. Fortunately, a $100 windfall at a blackjack table that day kept me even for the day. Sounds exactly like the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

There’s also the emotion factor. Pepperdine, a 4-point underdog, played after these two games were finished. It was totally irrational. I was convinced that Pepperdine would cover. All three teams had to cover in order to win the bet, which paid off at odds of 6 to 1. I maintain that getting too emotional about a stock is not a good thing. But I, hate to admit, am a bit of a hypocrite in this regard.

I reacted quite angrily any time one of the CBS announcers said a bad thing about a team I bet on. I occasionally get angry emails from readers who disapprove of negative comments I make about stocks they own. There are even ways to hedge and minimize your losses if you really know what you’re doing. A friend of mine and I placed the same $20 bet on a 3-team parlay: Kent State, Missouri and Pepperdine. It’s kind of like making a covered call on an option, selling the right to buy shares at a certain price while also having a long position on the stock.

Hoops junkies pore through the stats published in the USA Today college basketball special pullout section (an essential purchase for any NCAA fan) with the same amount of rigor that accountants use to audit financial statements.

Why betting is better than investing

Speaking of auditing, the fact that stats in college basketball cannot be manipulated is actually a reason why betting on a college basketball game might be a wiser move than buying a stock. So it would essentially be a wash. Example. (The spread is the number of points that the favored team is expected to win by while parlays are wagers that allow you to bet on several games in order to increase your payout.) And just as a market neophyte would be confused by a streaming quote feed, the rows of neon numbers on a sports book’s massive board is certainly overwhelming for the uninitiated.

Most of my friends and fellow gamblers that I talked to would stick to betting on games with the spread but I foolishly followed the venture capital style of investing in college basketball. A sports book during the height of March Madness is a wild, profane, testosterone-charged pit fueled by greed and fear. Pepperdine was competitive for the entire game but missed some crucial shots in the last few minutes (the bitter loser in me would say that they choked) and lost by eight.

. Just goes to show that you can’t discount the importance of luck any time you put your money to work.

Savvy strategies

It would have been nice to be able to make real bets on the Oscars though. Instead of P/E ratios and mutual funds, you have “point spreads” and “parlays”. So I did not hedge. You don’t have to worry about whether or not Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski set up special purpose entities in order to keep some of star player Jason Williams’ turnovers off the stat sheet. If Wake Forest won by more than 4 points he would lose his parlay bet but win $20 on the Wake bet