Gauging what the Weber State Wildcats are capable of in the 2014 NCAA tournament is an odd discussion to generate because the team isn’t that strong. At just 17-11 SU and 11-13-1 ATS this season, there’s been no real rhyme or reason to track them as a betting commodity in the men’s college basketball sportsbook and though they’re the best team in the Big Sky Conference, that’s also not saying so much? So why bother writing about them at all?
One word: Cinderella.
It happens almost every year. One team smashes through the bracketology and defies all logic. Last year that was Florida Gulf Coast (remember them?). This year, there’s no reason it can’t be the Weber State Wildcats. They’ll have long odds to win the title for sure. We’re talking that dreaded/awesome +100000 range where a five dollar chip shot pays your mortgage in a snap.
Of course, they’re called longshots for a reason. Cinderella’s are always a fun thought, but they also never win the title. No team lower than the eleventh seed has ever made the Final Four since 1985, the last one being those beloved VCU Rams. Seeds thirteen through fifteen have only gone as far as the Sweet Sixteen, and as we all know, the 16th seed has never escaped the first round.
This particular college season, however, has been absolutely bonkers. Nothing about it has made complete sense. Doug McDermott is the best player in the country and has Creighton on the verge of winning the conference. Wichita State won the Missouri Valley Conference and never lost a single game. In the paraphrased words of Allen Iverson, “We talkin’ ‘bout Creighton? We talkin’ ‘bout Wichita State?!”
What we’re actually talking about is consistency as a means of finding the best odds to win the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and that only comes when a coach has been in place for a while and has able to retain a reasonable amount of seniors. Experience is the common denominator with schools like Wichita State and Creighton which is fun to think about when you consider all the noise that this season began with. What’s become an overhyped freshman class includes big names like Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker has given way to teams built around sturdier, long term assets. These are the teams that you should be banking on to win the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Look at teams that revolve around freshmen this year – both Kentucky and Kansas were touted for their immensely talented group of first year players, but have struggled all season to really make a significant impact. The top ranked team in the country – the Florida Gators – is anchored by a senior in Patric Young, who is nowhere close to being a hotly sought after professional prospect. Veterans in college basketball are hard to come by, especially when the greener pastures of the NBA await some of these young men.
But they pay big dividends in the long run. The Wildcats are led by Davion Berry, a 6-foot-4 senior who is averaging 10.2 points and 4.0 assists while also picking up a steal per game. Kyle Tresnak is a big body in the paint that’s joined by sophomore Joel Bolomboy. Combined, the two frontcourt studs chip in 20.1 points and 15.7 rebounds per game.
The key with Weber State is that they’re a nice mix of young and old talents. Having veteran leaders on your team only gets you so far – you need that injection of youth, which is where Jeremy Senglin comes in. Though undersized at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds soaking wet, the Arlington product is an insanely fast and dazzling athlete who has averaged 11.3 points per game.
It’s been a long time since Weber State has made the big dance. The last time they punched their ticket to the post season gauntlet was in 2007, which was Randy Rahe’s first year as the head coach. Since then, they’ve been floating around in the Big Sky Conference trying to rebuild and are likely due to bust in to March Madness as a 15th or 16th seed. Some handicappers may have their eye on the simmering Wildcats, who were the runners up in the championship game of the CIT last year, losing to East Carolina 74-77 in the championship game.
They’re coming off a conference sealing victory against Eastern Washington, where they fought tooth and nail the entire way, and held off a late rally to win 82-78…as +1.5 underdogs. That’s important to remember because Weber State is so far off the radar of most handicappers and bookies that they’re not worth broaching as a 2014 NCAA Tournament investment. But that’s kind of the point isn’t it?
Sometimes the best team wins, like when Louisville won the title against Michigan. Other times, March is truly nothing but madness. Are you willing to gamble on Weber State’s long odds to win the 2014 NCAA Tournament championship in the midst of what’s become a whacky and unpredictable season?
It’s worth five bucks isn’t it?