Ron Balicki’s NCAA Championship odds


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Golfweek’s Ron Balicki charts the 30 teams in next week’s NCAA Championship and each team’s odds of winning:

Best Bets (5-1)

Oklahoma State. Cowboys have been No. 1 all season long and no reason to believe they can’t finish it off that way

Oregon. The Ducks are really strutting this season and have won five times in the spring including by 10 shots at Southwest Regional

Stanford. Some would argue that, top to bottom, this Cardinal team is stronger than the one that captured the NCAA title in 2007

Texas A&M. Aggies have not finished out of top 5 all season; if they get to match play, watch out, they could become first back-to-back NCAA title winners since Houston 25 years ago.

Washington. Huskies always seem to save best for the post-season and it’s no different this year. Won Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional (by 29 shots); two down and one to go.

• • •

Leading Challengers (8-1)

Augusta State. Don’t be surprised if Jaguars better their previous best NCAA finals finish of fifth place in 2002

Florida. Other than own tournament, Gators really haven’t put it all together at one event -- maybe now is the time.

Illinois. Even though they seem to play their best in events in the mid-west, the Big 10 champs have the fire power to make plenty of noise.

USC. Eight top 5s, but no wins for the Trojans so maybe they’re saving their best for the season’s last big dance.

UCLA. Bruins hit some bumps along the way, including 8th at Pac-10, but this young team has the potential to really light it up.

• • •

Don’t Count ‘Em Out (12-1)

Clemson. Tigers seem to go about their business without a lot of hype and hoopla, which could make them dangerous in the season finale.

Florida State. Seminoles were impressive in finishing second to Stanford at Central Regional, but can they keep it up?

Georgia Tech. No big-name super stars like some of the past Tech teams, but the ACC champion Yellow Jackets still carry plenty of clout.

Texas. If the young guns can handle the pressure -- and all indications show they will -- the Longhorns may have a lot to say before its all over in Chattanooga.

Texas Tech. South Central Regional champion Red Raiders enjoying one of their best seasons ever and don’t appear ready to end it on a sour note.

• • •

If They Have A Hot Week (25-1)

Arizona State. Sun Devils won their last NCAA title in ‘96 at Honors Course. They’ve been on a roller coaster ride all season so will they be battling uphill for cruising down the track.

California. Bears might be a year away from making a serious run at the title, but they’ve got enough talent this go around to draw close attention.

TCU. Horned Frogs have been all over the place this season so it will be a matter of which TCU team shows up in Chattanooga.

Virginia. Cavs seem to be a team that is living by that old adage -- walk softly and carry a big stick.

UNLV. It’s been a while, but this could be the year the Rebel Rally Red shirts come out of the closet for a serious title run.

• • •

If They Catch Lightning in a Bottle (50-1)

Duke. Blue Devils have been in contention a number of times, but just haven’t been able to finish off the deal.

LSU. Bayou Bengals held on for the final spot from the Central Regional, but will need a lot more fire power if they hope to make match play.

North Florida. Often overlooked in the big picture, the Ospreys just might be ready to soar high and strong in the big show.

Oregon State. Two wins in the fall, six top 5s this spring, but a pair of 12ths show the Beavers are capable of most anything.

Tennessee. The Vols are another one of those teams where you wonder who will show up – the squad that won twice in the fall or the one that was 10th at the Battle at the Beach and 8th at the SEC.

• • •

When You Wish Upon A Star (75-1)

Baylor. Bears, as 9th seed, surprised folks at South Central Regional by beating Georgia for the final spot to earn first trip to finals since 2002. Don’t expect any surprises this time around.

Georgia Southern. A gutsy performance the final round got the Eagles to the NCAA finals for the first time since 2005, but they’ll need that and more at Honors Course.

Kent State. Coach Herb Page says his Golden Flashes are among the longest of long shots. Then again they were just that when they finished T4 at the 2008 finals or even as the 9th seed at this year’s East Regional, where they tied for first.

Penn State. Go figure! Nittany Lions finish 10th at the Big 10 (okay, there are 11 teams), but come back with a solid fourth at the East Regional.

San Diego. Toreros surprised a lot of people at last year’s finals, finishing 13th in stroke play (T4 after the first round), but do they have any surprises left?

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