Do the Bearcats have another tournament run in them? Time to go over their chances for the new season. It was a successful 2011/12 season for Mick Cronin and team. They finished 26-11 overall and 12-6 in the notoriously difficult Big East.

We all remember that brawl with crosstown rivals Xavier, but let’s not forget about what really matters: their performances on the basketball court. 

During conference play, the Bearcats beat a few solid teams, including Georgetown, Connecticut and Villanova, but they saved their best basketball for tournament time. After beating the Hoyas in the quarters and then Syracuse in the semi-finals of the Big East tournament, Cincinnati was faced with the task of beating Louisville in the finals. 

In a scrappy, defensive game the Cardinals ended up with the win, but the Bearcats kept their heads and kept up their confident play in the NCAA tournament, beating Texas and then upsetting #3 seed Florida State to reach the Sweet 16. Then they ran into Ohio State, who promptly outclassed Cincinnati in a 81-66 win

Nonetheless, it was an admirable couple weeks of basketball for Cronin’s crew. 

Adjust and move on 

Next on Cronin’s agenda is preparing his team after losing two of his top scorers, Yancy Gates and Dion Dixon. The pair combined for over 25 points per game last season while Gates carried the load on the boards with a 8.9 RPG average. 

What are the team’s chances looking like for this coming season? 

Well, sportsbooks have the Bearcats listed at +5000 odds to win the championship, putting them alongside a large contingent that includes other programs such as Notre Dame, West Virginia, Stanford, Colorado, and San Diego State. 

Sean KilpatrickIn terms of a roster outlook, the Bearcats return one of the better backcourts in the nation, consisting of Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright. 

Kilpatrick, who averaged 14.3 PPG as a sophomore, led the team in scoring last season and now gets to shift over to his natural position with Dixon no longer around. 

After improving considerably across the board from his freshman to sophomore seasons, Kilpatrick has the ability to be one of the best players not only the Big East but in the entire country in 2012/13. 

He’ll share the backcourt with Cashmere Wright, who really found some consistency in his game in the latter stages of last season and will provide some veteran leadership at the point for the Bearcats. 

Heavy reliance on guard play 

Jaquon Parker will continue to play a lot in Cronin’s guard-heavy system. He averaged 9.4 PPG and 5.6 RPG last season, his finest showing a 28-point outburst against Marquette in a 72-61 victory. 

Cincinnati also has some young guys, all with good size, that will get their chance to step up. 

Forward Justin Jackson should see more court time now that Gates has left. He was effective in limited minutes last season and provided the Bearcats with solid rebounding and shot-blocking ability. 

Then there’s Cheikh Mbodj and Kelvin Gaines, both of whom are 6’10”. Let’s hope they’re ready for the spotlight as they’re going to get a lot more minutes now. 

Octavius Ellis, however, was kicked off the team during the offseason because of an incident at a downtown club. Luckily for Cincinnati, they won’t be lacking that much depth as they have JUCO transfer Titus Rubles coming to town as well. 

Overall, the Bearcats will be an interesting team to track this coming season. As experienced as they are out on the perimeter, they’re the complete opposite inside. Kilpatrick, Wright and Parker will be the main sources of offense and leadership and should have the team competing as tough as ever in the Big East. 

If a couple of those bigs can step up, there’s a chance we could see another legitimate run for the Bearcats. Only time will tell.

With the calendar turning a page to June, we are now just three months away from the start of another college football season. This is the time of year to start putting your own game plan together for another profitable run by scouting your favorite teams.

To help you along, the following is a look at this week’s most interesting news and notes from the world of college football.

SEC chimes in on potential playoff scenario

Ever since the NCAA decided to take a serious look at formulating some kind of playoff system to determine each season’s national champion, the major conferences have been adding their two cents as to what the final set-up should look like.

The general consensus has been to keep the playoffs to just the top four teams in the nation instead of expanding the field. This is where the fun begins as everyone has their own opinion as to what system should be used to determine these four teams and where the games will take place. The Big Ten believes that a team that does not win its conference should be in the final four and the PAC-12 is pushing for the first two games to be played at the home stadium of the higher seed.

In an effort to protect its own interest, the SEC went on record this week, stating that it is in favor of a system that rewards the top four teams in the nation regardless if two or more happen to be from the same conference. Considering that the SEC has produced the past six national champions and that two of its teams played last season’s BCS title game, this position makes all the sense in the world.

One thing is for sure: this whole matter is a long way from being resolved. Despite the obvious need for a better system than the one already in place, in-fighting between the major conferences still presents a major stumbling block to a playoff becoming a reality by the 2014 season.

Miami stands by the ACC

Miami HurricanesThere is a ton of speculation that the whole push for a four-team playoff will only fuel the movement towards four power conferences at the expense of the Big East and the ACC. The Big East was already on a downward spiral when it came to football and the departure of West Virginia and eventually Pittsburgh has only increased the speed of the fall.

The ACC has recently been thrust into the spotlight with news that Florida State is considering a possible move to the Big 12, to enhance its football status. This move could cause even more dominos to fall with possibly Clemson jumping ship as well. The embattled conference received some positive news this week when the Miami Hurricanes went on record to state that they are committed to staying in the ACC.

While Miami has not seriously competed for a national title since its days in the Big East and has been opened by Bovada at 75/1 to win one this season, its high-profile remains crucially important to the continued viability of the ACC.

Potential breakout players in 2012

College football remains the consummate team sport. However, sometimes the performance of an individual player can sometimes mean the difference between a couple of wins or losses during the season that will have a major impact on a team’s final record.

This week the Sporting News released its top five potential stars for this upcoming season. At the top of the list was Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.  At 6-foot-5, 245 pounds with 4.4 40 speed, he is already being compared to Randy Moss even though he has yet to play a down as a red-shirt freshman.

The other four players that have been singled-out are:

Alabama running back Dee Hart, who still hopes to back up starter Eddie Lacey but has the potential to flourish if he gets the chance.

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who brings a big arm to an offensive attack that primarily focused on its ground game.

Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, who will combine with Jared Salubi and Glasco Martin to give the Bears a potent rushing attack this season.

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, who could very well end up being Jim Mora’s starter on opening day as a redshirt freshman, if seniors’ Kevin Prince or Richard Brehaut cannot fill the role.

Spring is often considered a fallow period in men’s college basketball, but there are always a few stories that could impact teams’ chances to win their conference next season or even affect their current odds to make a run at a national title.

The following is a look at this week’s most interesting news and notes from the world of college basketball.

Butler moves up its plans to join the Atlantic 10

Butler BulldogThe Butler Bulldogs had already made up their minds to jump ship in the Horizon League for a place in the Atlantic 10 to upgrade the profile of their men’s basketball program, but they will now make the move for this upcoming season as opposed to waiting a year. The primary reason for pushing up the move up was brought on by the Horizon League’s decision to ban the Bulldogs from competing for the regular season conference title and its conference championship in early March.

The problem revolves around the fact that the conference does not have any existing by-laws to prevent departing schools from competing for a title such as the ones that exist in the Colonial Athletic Association, which is faced with the loss of VCU and Old Dominion. VCU has already worked out a deal to also join the A-10 early, while ODU is appealing to the CAA to overturn its current laws for the 2012/2013 season before it departs for Conference USA the following year.

Hoiberg parlays a successful season into a long-term deal

Fred Hoiberg took the head coaching job at Iowa State in 2010 and proceeded to guide his team to a very pedestrian 16-16 record overall and a dismal 3-13 showing in the Big 12. Building a team out of a number of transfers, he was able to turn things around last season with a 23-11 record and a trip to the third round of the NCAA Tournament after beating Connecticut 77-64 in its first tournament game since 2005 as the No.8-seed in the South Region.

He was rewarded for his efforts this week with an eight-year deal worth an estimated $1.5 million a season. Bovada has opened the Cyclones at 100/1 to win next season’s national title, but after last season’s third-place finish in the Big 12 when it was picked to finish near the bottom of the conference, Iowa State should definitely be on your watch list as a potential sleeper heading into the regular season.

Key transfer cleared to play for Pittsburgh this upcoming season

The Pittsburgh Panthers started the 2011/2012 season with high expectations, but crashed and burned in a mid-season eight game losing streak from which they were never able to recover. The result was a 22-17 record overall and an embarrassing 5-13 record in the Big East. The Panthers’ rebuilding process received a huge boost this week when the NCAA declared Central Michigan transfer Trey Zeigler eligible to play this upcoming season.

The 6-foot-5 guard is expected to replace the departed Ashton Gibbs, who was the Panthers leading scorer last season with 15.5 points a game. Zeigler brings some impressive credentials in his own right after averaging 15.6 points and 6.7 rebounds last season which earned him third-team All Mid-American Conference honors. He will have two years of eligibility left. Pittsburgh has been opened at 40/1 to win the national title with only Louisville, Syracuse, and St. John’s having lower odds in the Big East.
It may be the offseason for men’s college basketball, but there are always a few interesting behind-the-scenes news stories that could actually end-up having an impact on a particular team’s chances to win their conference next season or affect their current odds to make a run at a national title.

The following is a look at this week’s most interesting news and notes from the world of college basketball.

The future of the Big East conference tournament

LouisvilleAll the recent movement of schools in both the major and mid-major conferences has sparked a debate as to what the Big East should do with its season-ending tournament once it balloons to 18 schools in 2014. The current configuration consists of 16 schools, which is already a handful when it comes to trying to conduct a tournament in the span of less than a week. The departure of West Virginia and the one-year postseason ban of Connecticut solves the problem for next season, but the big question is what to do from that point moving forward.

The majority of the coaches in the Big East have already stated that they would like to see all 18 teams have a chance to compete, with the four teams at the bottom of the standings competing in a play-in game on Monday night before the traditional start of the actual 16-team tournament on Tuesday. The problem is, the Big East is already becoming watered down talent-wise when it comes to major conferences and you have to question how competitive even Tuesday’s first round will be.

A simple solution that would make the regular season even more competitive would be to stage a tournament of the top eight teams. However, if that were the case now, UConn would have never had a chance to go on that magical run that led all the way to a national title in 2011.

The here and now in the Big East

The ever-changing Big East may continue to experience some additional departures as the Big 12 looks to actually get back to 12 teams or possibly the ACC and/or the SEC decide to expand, but the burning question on the table right now, is which of the remaining 14 eligible teams will win the conference in the 2012/2013 season?

Louisville is the obvious first choice considering that Bovada has the Cardinals as second-favorites to win the 2013 national title at 8/1. The lowest odds for the next team in the conference would be Syracuse at 20/1 followed by St. Johns and 30/1 and Georgetown at 40/1. Everyone knows that Rick Pitino has a wealth of returning talent from last season’s Final Four squad as well as some strong recruits, but is the disparity between his team and the rest of the top teams in the conference really that wide? The top choice to give Louisville a serious run for its money is Syracuse, but it has to be able to put the whole Bernie Fine situation behind. St. John’s is loaded with some young talent and in a position to make some serious noise. Georgetown has two very productive bigs in Otto Porter and Nate Lubrick and Marquette is quietly reloading after losing most of its starting five from a year ago. Look for Trent Lockett to have a breakout season for the Musketeers.

Another basketball power exits the Colonial Athletic Association

A little over a week after VCU informed the CAA it was leaving the conference for greener pastures in the Atlantic 10, another solid basketball program in Old Dominion decided to jump ship to join Conference-USA. The motive for ODU’s move was primarily for the opportunity to move its football program up to the Division I-A level.

Ever since George Mason made its historic run to the Final Four in 2006, the CAA has gained more and more clout with the NCAA Tournament selection committee’s eyes as evidence of VCU’s at-large big in 2011 that led to the Rams’ own Final Four appearance. The loss of both VCU and ODU is surely a major step backwards for this once up-and-coming Mid-Major conference.
Who are sportsbooks favoring for next season in college hoops? Last year we saw the emergence of Indiana and Louisville as serious contenders for the title and they top out the list for 2012/13. Take a look at the list below and see if you can you spot any value in the future odds.

Take a look at the list below and see if you can spot any value in the futures odds. 

  1. Indiana (+700) – Tons of returning talent, led by Cody Zeller, and an awesome freshman class

  2. Louisville (+800) – Look for another deep run for this experienced bunch

  3. Kentucky (+1000) – Wildcats lost entire starting five but have one of best recruiting classes yet again

  4. Michigan State (+1500) – Tom Izzo always has a contending team and this year is no different

  5. Ohio State (+1500) – No Jared Sullinger, but Aaron Craft, DeShaun Thomas and other return

  6. Syracuse (+1500) – A large chunk of last year’s team is gone but the Orange will still be right there

  7. Kansas (+1500) – The Jayhawks lose Thomas Robinson but get back a few core pieces

  8. Missouri (+2000) – Four seniors depart but the Tigers have a few great transfers who’ll be eligible

  9. Duke (+2000) – Mason Plumlee has decided to return and that makes the Blue Devils dangerous

  10. North Carolina (+2000) – Like Syracuse, UNC lost a lot, but they have players ready to step in

  11. Florida (+2500) – No Bradley Beal but Erving Walker, Patric Young and Kenny Boynton remain

  12. UCLA (+2500) – Shabazz Muhammaded’s commitment skyrockets the Bruins’ stock

  13. Michigan (+3000) – With Trey Burke sticking around the Wolverines will compete for the Big Ten crown

  14. Baylor (+4000) – A lot of missing pieces, but returning your starting backcourt always helps

  15. Memphis (+5000) – The Tigers get talented guards Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford back

  16. Arizona (+5000) – Arizona brings a top-three recruiting class this year alongside some already established pieces

  17. North Carolina State (+5000) – The Wildcats should be higher up, especially now that C.J. Leslie’s  opted to return

  18. Pittsburgh (+5000) – Jamie Dixon is a terrific coach and will have his boys ready in the ACC

  19. Cincinnati (+5000) – Losing Yancy Gates and Dion Dixon hurts but at least Sean Kilpatrick is still around

  20. UNLV (+6000) – Led by Mike Moser, the Runnin’ Rebels will be a force again out West

  21. Georgetown (+6000) – The Hoyas are always a legitimate player in the loaded Big East

  22. Texas (+6000) – The Longhorns lose their scorer in J’Covan Brown but the rest are staying

  23. Gonzaga (+7500) – Look out for Sam Dower, who’s expected to break out in a big way in 2012/13

  24. Vanderbilt (+7500) – Almost all of the scoring is gone but the Commodores have a solid freshman class

  25. Wisconsin (+7500) – Never count out a team coached by Bo Ryan. Defense, defense, defense. 

Check out our NCAA basketball handicapping forums for analysis, opinions and more!
May appears to be quiet a month heading into the summer months. On the recruiting front, however, there are always interesting developments that could impact on next season’s individual conference championships and the national title run at the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

The following is a look at this week’s most interesting news and notes from the world of college basketball.

NCAA investigates Nerlen Noel

WildcatsKentucky coach John Calipari has developed a knack for recruiting the top high school players in the country. This year is no different with top prep recruit Nerlen Noel’s decision to be part of the next wave of youthful talent that will try and lead the Wildcats to another national title.

In what appears to be a matter of ‘much ado about nothing,’ the NCAA has announced that it is looking into Noel’s past relationship with both Chris Driscoll, who was a former assistant at Providence and Errol Randolph, who was a substitute teacher at Everett High School in Massachusetts. Noel attended Everett for two years before transferring to the Tilton School in New Hampshire. Driscoll was reportedly banned from Tilton’s campus after school officials determined that he was not acting in Noel’s best interest. Randolph has reportedly been linked to sports agent Andy Miller. The NCAA is also looking into Noel’s finances in relation to trips he took to both Kentucky and Louisville for recruiting purposes.

Calhoun expected back at Connecticut

It has been one heck of a rollercoaster ride for Connecticut Huskies coach Jim Calhoun over the past year or so. He led his team to a national title in 2011 with a sensational run in both the Big East and NCAA Tournament, only to be implicated in an academic scandal after his team failed to meet certain standards that ended-up costing the Huskies a one-year ban from tournament play starting next season. All the while, Calhoun has battled some health issues while his team struggled to even make this season’s tournament.

He will turn 70 later this month and, despite the recent problems both on and off the court, has full intentions of continuing on as the head coach of Connecticut’s men’s basketball program. The school is also confident he will be back, although Calhoun himself has yet to make a formal announcement that he will definitely return.

The Big Ten reloads for 2012/2013 season

The 2011/2012 basketball season would have to be classified as one of the best in recent years for the Big Ten as a whole, as the conference continued to establish itself as the ‘best of the best’ in men’s college basketball. Michigan State earned a No.1 seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament with Ohio State seeded second in the East. All together, six of the 11 schools earned a place in the tournament, with the Buckeyes making it all the way to the Final Four.

The expectations are even higher for next season with the Indiana Hoosiers the current odds-on-favorite to win the national title at +700. Ohio State and Michigan State have the next best odds in the conference at +1500, followed by Michigan at +3000 and Wisconsin at +7500. Iowa and Minnesota are both +10000 to round-out the projected top seven teams in the Big Ten.
It’s liable to be a strange college basketball season in Storrs, Connecticut, this winter. The Huskies are ineligible for the postseason due to a poor past academic performance penalty issued by the NCAA; the decison is having a terrible snowball effect, as players leave early for the NBA draft or transfer away. On top of that there’s Coach Calhoun’s ongoing health situation. So uncertainty surrounds the Huskies at the moment.

Champs just two years ago 

UConn BasketballUConn, if we remember right, won the national championship just two years ago. There are now three players left from that team, although only one is a major contributor. Last year the Huskies struggled to an 8-10 record in the Big East, barely making the NCAA tournament as the defending champs. And their stay was short; they got bounced out in the first round by Iowa State to finish at 20-14 overall. 

Since then, several things have happened. Foremost, the NCAA put UConn on probation for this season. In the wake of that mess, Jeremy Lamb, who led the Huskies in scoring last year as a sophomore at almost 18 points per game, declared for the NBA draft as did redshirt freshman Andre Drummond, who led the team in rebounding and blocked shots. Junior Alex Oriakhi transferred to Missouri; 6-10 freshman Michael Bradly transferred to Western Kentucky; and sophomore Roscoe Smith declared his intention to transfer. 

Add it up and Connecticut has holes to fill up front this season. 

What they do have

The Huskies should be set in the backcourt with the return of guards Ryan Boatwright and Shabazz Napier and the additions of transfer RJ Evans from Holy Cross and freshman Omar Calhoun. Boatwright and Shabazz combined to average 23 points and 10 assists per game last year, and Evans, who’s choosing to play his senior season for a team that can’t play in the postseason, his home-state Huskies, averaged 11.5 points and five dishes last year playing for the Crusaders of the Patriot League. 

Calhoun is a scorer who may get time just because he can throw it in the hole from almost anywhere. 

But other than that, UConn will be depending on some unknown quantities to play down low. 

Husky recruiting 

The two main additions through the recruiting process for the Huskies are Calhoun and 6-10 F Phil Nolan, both of whom could play right away. But, understandably, UConn has not been able to attract the talent, both in quantity and quality, they have in the past. 

How to bet UConn in 2012-13 

This is a tough one. With all that’s going on with this program this season, especially Coach Calhoun’s health situation, it’s almost impossible to predict what might happen with the Huskies. Coach Calhoun could come back full-speed and coach-up what he’s got for a frontcourt and make a dent in the Big East. The probation from the postseason could also create an us-against-the-world atmosphere around this team, and help them make the absolute most out of the regular season. 

Coach Calhoun could also decide to step aside, and who would blame him? He’s already won three national titles, and he’s had some serious health issues. But it would probably leave the program in a lurch, at least for a while. How a team might respond to something like that is difficult to discern. 

UConn basketball seems like a prime prospect for change. All programs go through it, and this one hasn’t had to in a long time.

Then again, there could be opportunity here for college basketball bettors. The Huskies may not be very highly regarded among the college basketball odds makers and the betting public, which can be a good thing, especially if UConn then plays above expectations. The Huskies might not be a bad team to back this season.
The NCAA basketball odds makers have opened the Indiana Hoosiers as this year’s favorites, but what are the other top programs in the nation doing to improve their chances of winning a NCAA Tournament title this year?

NCAA Basketball News & Notes- May 2

It has been almost a month since the Kentucky Wildcats cut down the nets in New Orleans as this season’s NCAA national basketball champions. While things on the surface appear to be quiet heading into the summer months, behind the scenes there are always some interesting developments that could have an impact on a program’s chances to win its regular season conference title or even make a long run in next year’s NCAA Tournament.

The following is a look at this week’s more prominent news and notes that could end-up having a major impact on a team’s NCAA basketball odds to win their conference and national title next season.

Early ‘Futures’ for next season’s championship

Cody ZellerNext season’s Final Four will be staged in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome and we already have an early peak at which teams have the best chance to get there according to the ‘futures’ NCAA basketball lines that have been released for several of the major programs in the country.

The Indiana Hoosiers have been opened as the ‘odds-on-favorite’ at +700 to bring home a national title in 2013. They are coming off one of their best seasons in recent memory with an overall record of 27-9 and a trip to the Sweet 16, where they ran into eventual champion Kentucky; a team they had actually beaten earlier in the season. With the return of Cody Zeller and Christian Watford, the Hoosiers will now have their top-five scorers from the 2011/2012 season on their roster for next season.

The second-favorite at +800 is the Louisville Cardinals, who made it all the way to this year’s Final Four before bowing-out to in-state rival Kentucky. Coach Rick Pitino remains confident that with the returning talent from last season’s 30-10 squad along with the possibility of landing a few more high-profile recruits, the Cardinals will be in prime position to make an even deeper run to a title in 2013.

Even though their entire starting five left early for the NBA, you can never count Kentucky out of the mix at +1000. Coach John Calipari has done it before and with a national title hanging around his neck, has been able to recruit an another strong group of players looking to make a one-year stop-over in Lexington on their way to the NBA, including the nation’s No.1-ranked player Nerlens Noel.

Abromaitis denied a sixth year

When Notre Dame forward Tim Abromaitis went down with a torn ACL in the third game of the season, so did a good portion of Notre Dame’s chances to win the Big East as well as the national title. The team went on to post a very respectable 22-12 record, but it bowed-out of the NCAA Tournament in its first game with a loss to Xavier.

Given the amount of time that Abromaitis missed, he took his case to the NCAA in hopes of being granted a sixth-year of eligibility, but that request was denied. He has already stated that he would not appeal the decision. The 6-foot-8, 236-pound power forward will finish his career at South Bend having averaged 13.7 points and 4.8 rebounds over the course of five seasons.

Butler headed to the Atlantic 10

The Butler Bulldogs, who gained national attention for going to back-to-back NCAA Tournament Finals in 2010 and 2011, have announced that they will be leaving the Horizon League after this season to join the Atlantic 10 for all sports starting July 1, 2013. Butler will be filling the void left by the departure of the Temple Owls, who decided to join the Big East Conference starting in 2013 as well.

Every year in college football, the topic of abandoning the bowl system in favor of a playoff tournament begins. This year is no different, but we say keep the tradition alive.

Unique

Crimson Tide Only in Division I college football is the national championshipdecided by a bowl system and not a postseason tournament. Having weathered storms of controvesy, it’s a unique approach that still gets millions of viewers and millions of dollars into the coffers of the schools that receive invitations to play in the big games. 

Nowhere else in sports will you find teams with identical records getting vastly different opportunities. Is it fair? If you consider strength of schedule and margin of victory, it’s more than fair. In fact, one could make the argument that it precludes a paper tiger from getting exposed on national television and turning a primetime event into a laughable mismatch. Teams like Ohio State, Florida, Miami, Oklahoma,
LSU, and Alabama, to name but a few, go to battle with similarly talented teams in their respective conferences throughout the season only to prove who is indeed worthy of playing a big time bowl game and for a national title. 

Unfair you say?

Yes, it would most certainly be unfair to let a team like Boise State, who play on a royal blue carpet, to contend for a national championship simply because they have dominated the lesser lights in the Mountain West Conference. While the Boise State Broncos are lighting up the scoreboard against players who will one day soon be occupying office cubicles, the Michigan Wolverines are taking the field against Big Ten opposition, many of whom will be patrolling the gridiron at the next level and not scanning balance sheets.

Teams from the SEC, Big Ten, PAC 12, Big 12, and even the ACC should all have first dibs on the BCS bowl games. The national champion should be determined not only by how they played but by whom they played as well. If you want to be big time, then step up to the plate and play in a big time conference, much like Boston College did when they made the move from the Big East to the ACC. 

Tradition

Rivalries are born from the womb of tradition. Familiarity breeds contempt, and you can see that manifest every time the Ohio State Buckeyes line up against their nemesis, the Michigan Wolverines. Generations of Cornhusker fans mark their calendars every year when their beloved Cornhuskers meet the Sooners of Oklahoma. Alabama bleeds crimson when the Tigers of Auburn make their appearance on the schedule. Regardless of records, these games are events the likes of which are not seen in any other sport, professional or college. 

And what makes these blood feuds even more intense is when they meet in a bowl game. The neutral site only magnifies the polarity in the stadium. There may be more hits in the parking lot than on the field for these games, but nobody is complaining. The BCS bowls make for compelling theater and very rarely is there a dispute, when all is said and done, regarding who reigns supreme in college football. It’s an imprecise recipe of computer generated ratings and a selection committee who debate the delicate balance of power. At the end of the day, the two best teams during the regular season are chosen to compete for a national title. 

Though the smaller conferences are putting together better teams and recruiting more talented players than ever, they are still walking in the shadow of the game’s traditional football powerhouses. Bowl games reward schools for the caliber of competition vanquished on the field of play. It is vindication for traversing a road beset with monumental challenges, yet completing the journey with few scars, if any, to show for the peril. A playoff style tournament would confuse a great record for a great team. Give the Bosie State’s and TCU’s their reward for a stellar season, but just make sure their bowl is not for the national championship.
The following is a look at this week’s most interesting news and notes from the world of college football. What is the latest news from the gridiron, and how can college football betting enthusiast use this to help with their picks?

NCAA Football News & Notes- May 2

The month of May marks the start of the summer offseason for college football with spring practices wrapping-up in April. While thing may appear quiet on the field, each week there are always some behind-the-scene stories that could end up having a major impact on the college football betting odds for a team to win its conference and perhaps even a national title.

Oklahoma State names starting quarterback for 2012 season

Wes LuntThe Oklahoma State Cowboys are coming off a 12-1 season and a third-place ranking in the final USA Today Coaches Poll, which by many standards was one of the best seasons in school history. With the departure of quarterback Brandon Weeden to the NFL along with a wealth of other talent from last year’s team, the college football odds makers have opened the Cowboys as +10000 longshots to win the 2012-2013 BCS National Championship, but do not tell that to gang in Stillwater.

Optimism is running high that Oklahoma State can still seriously compete for the Big 12 title as well as work its way into the BCS title picture despite having numerous holes on both sides of the ball to fill. Head coach Mike Gundy is hoping that true freshman Wes Lunt can fill one of the biggest holes as the Cowboys’ new starting quarterback. Lunt was locked into a heated competition with junior Clint Chelf and red-shirt freshman J.W. Walsh throughout this spring’s practice, but earned the nod as being the team’s “best chance to win football games” according to Gundy.

The last true freshman to start at quarterback for Oklahoma State was Tone Jones in 1993, but the last one to start on opening day was back in 1950.

SEC running backs return to the lineup

There were a couple of high-profile running backs in the SEC that had their 2011 season cut short due to injury and are looking to make an impact for both their team and possibly the NFL scouts with a return to action in 2012.

The player at the top of this list is South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore. Heading into the 2011 season he was widely regarded as the top back in the SEC even ahead of Alabama’s Trent Richardson after a spectacular freshman campaign in 2010. Lattimore rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns while catching 29 passes for 412 yards. He was off to another strong start last season with 818 yards rushing and 10 TD’s in his first seven games, but was lost for the year with a torn ACL against Mississippi State. The 6-foot, 220-pound back is reportedly ahead of schedule on his rehabilitation and expected to be ready to return to the starting lineup in the fall.

Another SEC running back who is looking forward to the 2012 season is Arkansas’ Knile Davis. The 6-foot, 230-pound Davis was expected to be the center piece of the Arkansas Razorbacks’offensive attack last season after rushing for 1,322 yards and 13 TD’s in 2010. He never got the chance after going down with a left ankle injury in late August that cost him the entire 2011 campaign.

Davis’s ankle is reportedly 100 percent healed and he should once again be able to carry the load for Arkansas’s running game. He is a runner with the unique ability to be both a power back on short yardage situations while have still possessing break-away speed to pull-off a few long gainers down the field.

BC back sent packing

Boston College has struggled to compete with the top teams in the ACC over the past few seasons and now it will have to forge on without running back Montel Harris. Head coach Frank Spaziani announced earlier this week that Harris had been dismissed from the team due to repeated violations of team rules.

Harris missed most of last season due to a lingering knee injury, but he led the ACC in rushing in 2010 and established himself as Boston College’s all-time leading rusher with 3,735 yards.