Elite teams should claim 2011-12
Here are my top eight thoughts as the new season gets underway (we'll let you decide if they are as elite as some of the teams that will likely top the bracket this season):
• I like to play this mind game whenever a season starts. In looking way ahead to the national championship, should you bet the favorite(s) or the field? Last season, with Duke generating an overwhelming consensus to repeat its 2010 title, it would have been tempting to take the Blue Devils. But the odds are so against any one team going all the way that you almost had to take the field. Indeed, Duke won 32 games, grabbed its seemingly annual No. 1 seed but got hammered by Arizona in the Sweet 16.
This time around, if offered what I call 2011-12's three co-favorites -- North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio State -- my gut is to go all-in for that trifecta. The odds still favor the field, especially when the top of the Big East is included, but there are so many future pros on the three highest-ranked teams that I'd put my money right there. Of course, the best thing about college basketball is that almost anyone can win a neutral-site, neutral-officials game in March. That's why we watch!
To see the rest of Joe Lunardi's observations, including one blueblood program who he believes to be overrated and another surprise Final Four pick, you must be an ESPN Insider.