Always a fun sports week with college basketball’s National Championship Game on Monday night followed by the best week of the pro golf weekend, or at least the most prestigious, The Masters.
Starting off the week with the final game of a tumultuous NCAA Basketball season – the sport has been through the ringer since October when the FBI launched a raid into a handful of schools including Arizona. But at least we get to see a fun battle of the blue bloods – Michigan and Villanova in the final.
The Wolverines have been on a heck of a run, having lost only once since the calendar turned to February – and that loss was only five days into the month (at Northwestern). Basically what I’m saying is they’ve been undefeated for two months despite the fact Jordan Poole literally saved their season in a second round stunner against Houston.
But the truth is that Michigan hasn’t faced a seed HIGHER than #6 Houston this tournament – with victories over 14, 6, 7, 9, and 11 seeds in The Big Dance. Has any team ever had an easier road to the championship game? No way.
Villanova just looks the part…as they have all season. Led by star PG Jalen Brunson, the Wildcats are the perfect hybrid of solid offense and defense and I’d be shocked if they didn’t take home their second championship in three years on Monday night.
The Wildcats haven’t been tested all tournament and completely ran away from Kansas in the first few minutes on Saturday leaving the Jayhawks never having played within single-digits for the final 35 minutes of the game (or if they did, I must’ve been taking a bathroom break).
While I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wolverines keep it close at halftime, Villanova wins 74-66.
Off the top of my head, this year’s Masters looks to be the most anticipated golf tournament in recent memory. Tiger Woods is back and in good form…can he win his fifth green jacket? Or will Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, or Justin Rose win their first?
Last year I was fortunate enough to have Sergio Garcia at 40-1 to win in Augusta by virtue of a dramatic playoff with Justin Rose. This year I’ll present my five top bets to win golf’s most celebrated tournament:
5. Louis Oosthuizen (50/1) – Here’s one of my two long shots for this weekend. Oosty lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson in 2012 and also finished in the top-25 each year from 2014-16. He’s one of the most rock solid putters around and that’s what it takes to win at Augusta. Might be worth a bet for a top-10 as compared to straight winning it.
4. Matt Kuchar (40/1) – Four top-10 finishes in his last six trips to Augusta and played an excellent final 63 holes in the Houston Open last weekend. Combination of good form and good record in The Masters is appealing at these long odds.
3. Rickie Fowler (18/1) – Finished tied for 11th here last year and has faded on the weekend of late, including this past weekend in Houston. Can be electrifying if on his game, though, and is worth a long look at nearly 20-1 odds.
2. Justin Rose (14/1) – Has finished in the top-25 each year since 2009 at Augusta with two top-2s in the last three trips. I feel like Rose is a virtual lock for the top-10 at this point.
1. Jordan Spieth (10/1) – Three top-3 finishes in four trips to August = sign me up again this year. Faded to 11th last April with a final round 75. If he can keep it out of the water on the back 9 come Sunday, watch out. Was razor sharp in Houston securing a top-5 finish this past weekend. All systems go for his second green jacket.
As for good ‘ole Tiger Woods, a top-10 can’t be discounted as I feel like he’s a good bet to at least make the cut and play on the weekend. But I just don’t see him being the Tiger of old who dominated Augusta time after time. In the fairly unlikely event that he’s truly contending on Sunday though, watch out…
To read previous entries of my blog, click here. Also make sure to follow me on Twitter @eacohen83.