Oddsmakers peg the Kentucky Wildcats as 2.5-point favorites over the Connecticut Huskies in tonight’s national championship game. But what do they know? The bookies, like the NCAA’s selection committee, have proven that they don’t know much. Or, perhaps more accurately, UConn and Kentucky have proven that.
Tonight’s game features the highest combined seeding of any national championship game. Villanova, a #8 like Kentucky, became the highest-seeded team to win a national championship in 1985. No #7 seed has ever won the tournament, so Connecticut, despite enjoying the lower seeding, plays to make history. Neither team even competed in the tournament last season.
That’s probably why oddsmakers didn’t like their chances much immediately prior to the tournament. Florida, at 4-1, appeared as the favorite on the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino’s board, followed by Michigan State (9-2), Arizona (6-1), and Kansas (8-1). Vegas put UConn’s chances at 100-1. They liked Kentucky a little better at 40-1.
One man bet big on the Wildcats. Tyler Austin Black, a machinist from Berea, Kentucky, tattooed “2014 Nati9nal Champions UK” on his calf prior to the tournament. The “9” refers to the number of national championships the storied school will have won should they win in the tournament. At the time of the tattoo, the Wildcats remained unranked.
“I’m not delusional,” Black told ESPN. “I know we’ve had a rough season. Big Blue Nation is down and the majority of people have no faith in us. But we have faith in ourselves.” He had more faith than the bookies did. And he had more faith than the selection committee did.
Black surely looked fairly delusional a month ago. It’s the “experts” who look delusional today.