NCAA Tournament Odds and Coments - NFL Draft Notes

Gotta admit we're really looking forward to this year's various conference tournaments - a/k/a the mini-tournies - because our contention is there will be a handful of teams that are gonna make a run from the middle of the standings pack to nab an automatic bid to this month's NCAA Tournament.

In case you're wondering, here's the teams that are not in or near first place in their respective conferences / leagues right now that we think are real live wire clubs that can win their mini-tournies ... Temple (AAC), Southern Utah (Big Sky), Iowa State (Big 12), Hawaii (Big West) and Monmouth (MAAC).

In other words, there's a few regular-season champs that might have reason to fret when we finally get to Selection Sunday two weeks hence.

Still, we'll all have to sit tight for just a few more days - the mini-tournies tip off beginning Tuesday with the Horizon League in action first - but be sure we're gonna keep you fine Jim Sez readers up to snuff with all the conference tournaments and please be aware there's a batch of key regular-season games still on the sked ... this first weekend in March features the likes of Kentucky at Tennessee and Gonzaga at Saint Mary's on Saturday and don't forget Sunday's games between Michigan at Maryland and Arizona State at Oregon State.


TEAM                     ODDS BASED ON $100 

Duke                               + 210                                     
Simply put, a sub-100 percent Zion Williamson keeps 'em away from the Final Four

Gonzaga                        + 850                                     
Can't ignore the fact the 'Zags are not getting any better playing fellow WCC teams

Kentucky                        + 900                                     
If we had more faith in Coach Cal as a "game coach", then we might think 'Cats can do it

Virginia                          + 950                                     
Will last year's 1st-round loss to UMBC spur 'em to special title heights in 2019?

North Carolina              + 1100                                   
Best interior passing team in the country just needs steady point guard play

Tennessee                     + 1100                                   
Still wondering if F Grant Williams is gonna go MIA for minutes at a time (see LSU game last weekend)

Michigan                       + 1200                                   
Any John Beilein-coached teams with talent must be watched at all times in March / April

Michigan State             + 1400                                   
Just don't want to see star G Cassius Winston have to take on all the scoring heat himself

Nevada                          + 2200                                   
Why is this Wolf Pack team suddenly losing the respect game on a national front?

Kansas                           + 2800                                   
Tumultuous season in Lawrence but maybe there's a run in these Jayhawks, eh?

Iowa State                     + 4000                                   
We get the sense that the Cyclones will be feast-or-famine in this year's NCAA Tournament

Texas Tech                    + 4000                                   
Techsters were in Elite 8 last year but is this year's defense better or worse?

LSU                                 + 4500                                   
Playing in better-than-we-think SEC may be a reason way Bengals are "team to watch" here

Auburn                           + 5000                                   
Not quite sure we trust this Tigers' defense at crunch time but they could prove us wrong

Marquette                     + 5000                                   
The pair of regular-season losses to up-and-down St. John's truly scares us



There's all sorts of trade talk rumors going on in Indianapolis (and elsewhere) where the NFL Combine has been going on this past week but here's the ones we put the most faith in right now:

The New York Jets - slated to pick third overall in next month's NFL Draft - indeed are willing to trade down to the #6 spot with the "rival" New York Giants but the J-E-T-S must get at least three draft picks here including at least one other second-round choice this year or next. Again, the Giants are eyeballing Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins and the NFC East crew is not quite sure he'll still be standing there at #6 while the Jets are quite certain they'll be able to land one of the edge pass rushers on the big boards such as Clemson's Clelin Ferrell.

Then consider the trade talk involving the Oakland Raiders who - right now - own the #4, #24 and #27 selections and could swing a two picks-for-one move as long as the silver-and-black can get their hands on either the numero uno pick (Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray?) or deal the latter two picks to get into the top 15 and get their own edge rusher (maybe Florida's edge rusher Jachai Polite?). We say nay to the Raiders trading up to #1 overall but a 50/50 shot they deal the latter picks for a #13 or #14 selection.

Finally, we see plenty of trade talk that says the Denver Broncos will move up from #10 in order to land Mr. Murray or maybe Duke QB Daniel Jones somewhere in the top six picks ... how about the Broncos trading the tenth pick plus a second-rounder next year to Tampa Bay at #5. The Bucs wouldn't mind trading down and getting LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, say our gridiron insiders.