Balicki gives odds for NCAA Championships

Balicki gives odds for NCAA Championships

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Balicki gives odds for NCAA Championships

Charting this year’s teams and their odds to win the NCAA Men’s Division I Championship, to be held May 26-30 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio:

BEST BETS (3-1)

Oklahoma State: Cowboys have what it takes to join Clemson (2003) as the only team to win conference, regional and NCAA titles in the same season

Georgia: SEC champion Bulldogs are experienced, talented and can go low at any time

USC: Struggled a little late this spring, but if Lovemark is healthy and can get untracked, the Trojans have a solid chance

Washington: Huskies won four times this spring, including the Pac-10 Championship, and for some reason always seem to elevate their game in the postseason

Florida: Gators would like nothing better than to have Billy Horschel’s stellar career end with a championship ring.

• • •

SOLID PICKS (5-1)

Stanford: Cardinal have won only once and had a bit of a scare at the Southwest Regional, but have the talent to bring home the gold.

Alabama: Young Tide finally put it together in winning the Northeast Regional, but still may be a year away from being a top contender

Georgia Tech: ACC champion Yellow Jackets have been up and down all season and will need to hit on all cylinders in Toledo

Arkansas: Razorbacks have finished second in their last five outings; they might just be ready to kick it up one more notch

Illinois: Big Ten champions won four in a row before finishing third at Northeast Regional, and Inverness should be right up their alley.

• • •

DON’T COUNT ’EM OUT (10-1)

Texas A&M: Another young team with plenty of potential, but much will hinge on how well senior Bronson Burgoon, who had a final-round 64 at regionals, plays.

UCLA: Defending NCAA champs almost fell under the .500 mark, but definitely showed championship form in winning the Central Regional.

Central Florida: Knights defeated No. 1 Georgia by 11 shots at the Southeast Regional and also are looking to join the exclusive club of being conference, regional and NCAA champions in same season

South Carolina: Gamecocks have run hot and cold, but they come in on the verge of boiling, so watch out.

Arizona State: Nine-shot victory at the West Regional should give Sun Devils plenty of confidence and momentum.

• • •

OUTSIDE CHANCE (20-1)

Texas Tech: A second place at the Southwest Regional might just be the wake-up call the Red Raiders needed.

Oregon: Second-place finishes at Pac-10 and West Regional have Ducks waddling in the right direction.

Tennessee: Vols still looking for their first victory of season but have four seconds, including Northeast Regional and the Fall Preview at Inverness.

TCU: Horned Frogs come in under the radar, but have three wins and only one finish outside the top 5.

Chattanooga: Mocs appear to have regained the form that gained them two victories to start the fall.

• • •

STRETCHING IT A BIT (30-1)

Texas: Longhorns’ best showings this spring have come on their home course and Inverness doesn’t fall into this category.

Wake Forest: Demon Deacons probably have been the most unpredictable team in the country, so who knows?

Arizona: Wildcats, who finished ninth at the Pac-10 Championship, finally showed some teeth with a T2 at Southeast Regional.

Duke: After struggling much of the spring after the unexpected departure of coach O.D. Vincent, Blue Devils seem to be back in the groove.

Ohio State: What a story it would be if the unheralded Buckeyes gave retiring Hall of Fame coach Jim Brown his second national title.

• • •

LONGEST OF LONG SHOTS (50-1)

Northwestern: Other than the Wildcats themselves, not many believed they would even make regionals, let alone the NCAA finals.

Michigan: After a gallant effort just to make it here, Wolverines will need a monumental performance to make match play.

Virginia: Cavaliers haven’t won this season and there’s little reason to believe that will change at Inverness.

Iowa: Hey, if the Hawkeyes somehow make it to the Elite 8, it would be the Cinderella story of the season.

San Diego: As the lowest-seeded regional team (12th in West) and lowest-ranked program (No. 63 in Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings) at Inverness, the Toreros are just happy to be here.

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