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Syracuse Basketball: Odds Are...Not On The Orange

Always bet on black. One of the coolest lines in Passenger 57 (it's a movie, I swear, look it up even). Although, if Wesley Snipes was talking about hoops, he probably would have recommended betting on red, or maize and blue, and certainly not orange...or black, I guess.


Syracuse's run to the Final Four has most Orange fans clamoring to read and hear everything and anything they can about their team. Which, when thinking back to 2003, or 1996, and certainly 1987 and 1975, there is plenty more to read about this trip thanks to vast Internet options and the power of social media. Just refresh your twitter account and you're likely to see something different, or more likely rehashed (OH MY GOD, THE ZONE!!! THE ZONE!!), on the Orange -- and that goes double for the other three teams, which seem to have a bigger spotlight on them nationally.

But the one constant with college hoops -- and sports in general for that matter -- is Las Vegas. There's always odds. And a lot like the media coverage slanting away from Syracuse, Vegas hasn't exactly been on the Orange.

To start the tournament Syracuse was a 22/1 shot to win it all.

  • Louisville #1 19/4
  • Indiana #1 5/1
  • Florida #3 7/1
  • Gonzaga #1 10/1
  • Kansas #1 10/1
  • Duke #2 12/1
  • Miami Florida #2 14/1
  • Ohio State #2 16/1
  • Georgetown #2 18/1
  • Michigan State #3 18/1
  • New Mexico #3 20/1
  • Michigan #4 22/1
  • Syracuse #4 22/1
  • St. Louis #4 25/1
  • Wisconsin #5 25/1
  • Pittsburgh #8 33/1
  • VCU #5 40/1
  • And so on...

Not bad for a four seed, one that had lost four of its final five regular season games. Syracuse fans probably saw a team that had beaten Pittsburgh and Georgetown, while the rest of the college basketball world saw a team struggling, one heading west before possibly playing mighty Indiana. 22/1 odds were really probably spot on. The same odds for Michigan, for that matter.

But here we are with only two games left in the NCAA season (save for the CBI, NIT, and CBZ -- only one of those isn't real), Syracuse sitting 80 minutes from a national championship. Just four teams left playing college basketball games that count. So obviously, Syracuse's odds to win it all have increased:

  • Louisville - 1/2 -- The favorite, obvi.
  • Michigan - 3/1 -- Hmm, well the Wolverines are 2 to 2.5 point favorites over the Orange.
  • Syracuse - 4/1 -- There are only four teams left, how is it...I mean, I don't get...
  • Wichita State - 12/1 - Ohhhh! I get it, no love for the Shockers.

I wrote it Sunday:

-- and that's not even factoring in the emotional story of Kevin Ware. With a nice close to the regular season, a Big East tourney title, and four blowout victories thus far, the Cards are the clear-cut favorite -- no questions asked.

As far as the next team down? The Wolverines have Trey Burke and a host of talented, albeit inexperienced, sharp shooters. A top-ten team all season, one that competed in the supposed best conference in the land. Of course, Michigan did hit the skids, similar to Syracuse, and its a team with a coach who's never beaten Jim Boeheim (0-9 all time, 0-1 at Michigan).

We're picking nits here, but you could make an argument that Syracuse should be the favorite to play the Cardinals...and just the same, you could make the case for the Wolverines.

  • Louisville v. Michigan - 10/11
  • Louisville v. Syracuse - 7/5
  • Wichita v. State Michigan - 15/2
  • Wichita State v. Syracuse - 101

Of course, what the Sharps think hasn't mattered so far. The Orange weren't favored by 47 against Montana. Just the same, Indiana was the overwhelming favorite against Syracuse. And like we all know, almost no one gave SU a real shot at getting to Atlanta. So, all these numbers are in the end...just numbers.

That's what makes the tournament so great. It's not just Vegas, it's all of us. We all think we know what's going to happen, or at least have a good idea of what to expect. But how many of you had this Final Four on your bracket? If you said yes, you're a liar. No one gave a chance to Wichita State -- a team most figured would be beaten in the first round by Pittsburgh.

Didn't happen though. It's not the Hoosiers, or the Jayhawks, or the Buckeyes, or even the Lobos (a team I totally fell for by the way...what an idiot I am) setting up for a fun-in-the-sun trip to Atlanta like Vegas thought. It looks like Louisville, the team with the best odds of winning it all from the start, was forecast correctly. But, as the other three teams still playing have proven, odds are odds don't always mean everything.