I Can See The Future... Again...Hopefully

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2022 was a forgettable year for a variety of reasons. I'm personally looking to move past 2022. In addition to a bunch of things, the gambling picks in the year of the Tiger (2022) were not overall great. Some ups, some big wins, but a lot of downs overall. Even with those downs, the one positive was the ability to pick futures. 

I blogged last November three NCAA Basketball picks to cut down the nets in April. One of those three picks cashed in…The Kansas Jayhawks. I again then gave out Kansas at +1300 before the tournament. 

Baseball rolled around and I once again nailed the World Series winner before the playoffs. 

Astros +350…Cash the tickets. 

Football was ugly at times, but a very long shot to win the Big 12 got to the window at +1800 with the boys from the Little Apple. 

And depending on if you actually bet it, Caleb Williams Heisman +1000 was a gift for the people as well. I'll never live down not clicking submit that day in the 20 minutes I was in New Jersey that day. 

Not a bad haul for an otherwise shitty year. 

Onto 2023, where we hope to replicate some of those big paydays. 

Let's start with College Hoops. Now that we've got a good sample size of games, and have seen the level and tiers of teams begin to take form. Here's three picks based on the current numbers at The Barstool Sportsbook  to take a look at. As always, gamble responsibly. 

First up…

Kansas +1500 

I mean how could I not? I have picked Kansas to win the National Championship more than any team in America, in any sport ever. Always seemed to pick Kansas in the bracket year after year. Had my heart broken in 2016 when Perry Ellis in explicably took 5 shots. I finally got my pot of gold in 2022 when Kansas cut down the nets in one of the biggest comebacks in sports history, and the biggest in NCAA Championship history. 

It is absolutely BRUTALLY difficult to repeat in any sport let alone college basketball, but it's hard not to think Kansas can buck the trend. I know people get bored with Kenpom numbers but it is a straight up fact that you need to be efficient on both ends of the floor. Kansas ranks 14th in Offensive Efficiency and 10th in Defensive Efficiency. Which again is all stats and only backs up that when you watch this team they pass the eye test and are very good on both ends. 

Jalen Wilson is a star and has come into the role of superstar. His 21 ppg and 8.6 rebounds per game are a super impressive stat line. Add in he was a major player on last year's title team and an upperclassman and you know he wont wilt in big moments. 

They have Bill Self who knows how to win and navigate the tournament. They have star freshman Gradey Dick who's a sharpshooter and not afraid to take big shots. His 48.1% from 3pt is unreal. Kevin Mcculler is a senior having his best statistical season (11.5 ppg 7.7 rpg) and a ton of good solid role players contributing to a team who's 12-1 with wins over Duke and Indiana. 

The real reason I love this team? The Point Guard Dajuan Harris.

Look at this sequence:

Kid makes plays like this every night. He's terrific and if he's running the offense, Kansas has a shot to go all the way. 

The one glaring potential knock on Kansas is their size. KJ Adams starts essentially at center…he's 6'7.  Ernest Udeh Jr and Zuby Ejiofor are 6'11 and 6'9 but are both Freshman but combine for only 13 minutes a game. If the Jayhawks face a big time post presence, or a team with multiple post options they could be in for trouble. Until then, I'll back Kansas going back to back. 

Alabama +2500 

Bet. you didn't see this one coming ! 

Now before you call me a homer, I urge you to watch Alabama play ball. They aren't last year's team. They are way better, and most importantly way better defensively. 

The Tide are 16th in Defensive Efficiency and their missing their best defender for another 3-5 weeks. Nimari Burnett will not be back until February at best. 

I know what you are asking and yes The Tide still take a ton of threes, but they are shooting at a much higher percentage (34.3% this year compared to 30.9% last year). Additionally, they are defending the 3pt line much better. Teams shoot just 29.8% from deep vs the Tide (47th in country) compared to 33.8% (194th in the country). 

They're athletic, they're deep, they can shoot, they defend they play in a very difficult conference which will prepare them well for The NCAA Tournament, and most importantly they have an absolute STAR as their best player. 

He's a freshman but he's a star and in March you need a star to take over games, get you a big shot, get you a bucket to stop the other team's run, or get you a bucket to win the game. He can do all of that. He's fantastic. 

Alabama is 100% worth a look at this price at 25-1 and almost seems disrespected considering their looking at a 2 seed in current bracketology. 

Xavier +6000 

Here's a deep one worth a shot. 

Let's tackle the facts. I do think the Big East is down this year. It's worth noting Xavier and UCONN are the only ranked Big East teams right now. The bottom of the conference is bad. Georgetown, Depaul, St.John's (fraudulent 11-4), Butler, and Seton Hall will take a miracle to make the NCAA Tournament. Villanova isn't what they usually are, Creighton is struggling, and Marquette and Providence are over achieving. The league isn't deep, but as Villanova has proven year after year, stacking up wins in the Big East and getting a really good record can get you a high seed in the tournament. Xavier has that potential. 

The offensive attack (7th in efficiency) is extremely balanced with 4 players in double figures (S.Boum 16.9 ppg, J.Nunge 15.2 ppg, Z.Freemantle 14.4 ppg, C.Jones 14.3 ppg). 

They have wins over West Virginia and UCONN, and close losses to Duke and Gonzaga so I like that they have been tested thus far, especially since The Big East isn't the toughest league in the country and there's a bunch of bad teams. 

The defense needs work (78th in efficiency) but when you watch this team they pass the eye test. I see them improving as the year goes on which will only help their case to be taken seriously as a title dark-horse. Another reason to believe the defense will get better is the guy on the sidelines track record. 

Sean Miller is back for a 2nd stint with the Musketeers and if you follow his career, and watch his teams play they never ever seemed to be an easy matchup on defense. In years his team made the NCAA Tournament (11 times),  he's only had 3 teams be ranked outside of 75th in defensive efficiency,  all 3 of those teams went out in the 1st weekend. The other 8 teams defensive efficiency ranks? (29th, 29th, 3rd, 1st, 32nd, 67th, 12th, and 39th ). 

Even if you don't like the guy, he can sure as hell coach. That's maybe the biggest reason I will buy this team at this price. 

In 11 tournament appearances, been knocked out in the 1st weekend 4 times. In those losses, he was the higher seed just twice. He also reached the Elite 8 four times. He also has two Sweet 16 appearances. His teams do well. I talk all the time about coaches "breaking through" as in the guy has never made a Final Four but he sure knocks on the doorstep a lot…that seems to be Sean Miller. I think if you keep getting to the party you eventually get to be a star of the party and Miller sure seems to be the next guy up to do that. 

He maximizes talent, and this Xavier team has talent, along with size and toughness. Another thing to love is they shoot the shit out of the ball from deep 40.1% from 3pt (3rd in the country). 

Xavier is a real dark horse. And with games against Villanova, Creighton and Marquette this week, the world may find out about the Musketeers as a real threat very fast.