By Kenneth Miller, Publisher
Had a chat with a former colleague about the transformation of college athletics the other day.
He shared with me a story of a former high school star who reclassified to leave early for college, but has since transferred to three different schools in as many years and may be back in the portal for a fourth this year.
In years past there were vast restrictions on collegiate players mobility. Colleges held the cards, essentially controlling the player and then NCAA guidelines mandated the player sit out for a year.
However, in todays’\ world of collegiate athletics with players allowed to profit off their name, likeness and image, coupled with rules that allows transfers as frequently as traffic stops, in addition to the extra year because of the COVID pandemic, this is the norm in college sports.
This weekend’s NCAA Final Four is a perfect reflection of the new landscape in college athletics, which instead of players leaving too early for the greener pastures of the NBA, they are staying too long because they can get paid to play in school.
The NCAA created this nightmare themselves when they were so damn greedy by using these so called student athletes like cotton picking slaves, enriching their institutions while poverty stricken poor Black athletes suffered.
Now the rabbit has the gun, and these collegiate athletes are pushing it to the max, cashing in after high school and again when they go into the transfer portal.
The Miami Hurricanes star transfer Nijel Pack received an NIL deal for an estimated $800,000 after he transferred from Kansas State and it worked out in his and the Canes favor’s as he averaged 18.5 points per game and was voted Most Outstanding Player of the Midwest Region.
Pack is a third year sophomore which allows for him to have two more years of college eligibility if he wants it.
In the meanwhile, high school student athletes throughout the country who have did everything right, starred on the grass roots circuit, dominated during their high school seasons and most importantly aced the academic aspects of the journey are left in limbo because colleges are recruiting the transfer portal more than preps.
This Final Four will unfold in Houston with four schools from the smallest markets in America without any transcendent talent on their roster that will inspire an audience to stop what they are doing to watch.
There isn’t a story line that CBS/Turner can come up with that would change this narrative, but while Miami, UCONN, San Diego State and Florida Atlantic University are all deserving of playing for the National Championship, it will likely be a rating disaster.
Those days of Magic Johnson playing against Larry Bird or Michael Jordan playing for a college basketball team are gone.
Players participating in college basketball are older and less talented than they’ve ever been.
Many of these players have already completed college and are merely there to play basketball.
Welcome the world where juniors are not really three year players and seniors or not four year players.
As a result, because of maturity, age and experience and in the case of San Diego State all three are applicable, but the high school graduate is forged to either go to prep school or the Juco route to have the opportunity to earn a scholarship.
While the COVID extra will go away after this year, the transfer portal is here to stay, but requires some serious tweaking.
The most appealing aspect to the Final Four is the betting propositions available on credible and uncredible sports apps and gambling services.
Anyone who would have wagered on one of the Final Four teams will strike it rich if they bet their team to win the championship at the outset of the tournament.
Before the tournament began UConn was +800, Miami +4000, San Diego State: +4000
and Florida Atlantic +5000.
Here’s a look at how the public is betting Saturday’s Final Four matchups, with all numbers coming from DraftKings Sportsbook.
#9 FAU vs. #5 SDSU
Spread: SDSU -2 — 47% of handle on SDSU, 51% of total bets on SDSU
Total: 131.5 — 66% of handle on under, 42% of bets on under
Moneyline: SDSU -130, FAU +110 — 55% of handle, 39% of bets on SDSU
SDSU’s defense is a large reason for the public favoring the under here despite the low total. The Aztecs have allowed opponents an average of 57.3 points across their four tournament games. The handle on the SDSU moneyline is much more significant than the percentage of total bets, which means that the big spenders are placing their faith in the Aztecs over FAU.
#4 UConn vs. #5 Miami
Spread: UConn -5.5 — 53% of handle on UConn, 60% of total bets on UConn
Total: 149.5 — 80% of handle and 76% of bets on over
Moneyline: UConn -240, Miami +200 — 52% of handle and 48% of bets on UConn
The UConn Huskies are the favorite to win it all as we head into the Final Four. Two strong offensive teams meet on the court here, which explains the heavy lean to the “over” side on total betting. UConn has won every game by double digits thus far in the tournament, finishing with a margin of no less than 15 points across their first four games.
However if you have been paying attention to this tournament the only sure bet is NO BET!