A much different type of madness is hitting college basketball before the calendar turns to March. The FBI will cast a shadow over this NCAA Tournament, and Sean Miller might not get the chance to again come up short of the Final Four.
Four months after Rick Pitino’s fall from grace, Miller is hitching a ride.
According to an ESPN report, FBI wiretaps caught Miller discussing a $100,000 payment to ensure 7-foot-1 star Deandre Ayton would sign with Arizona. Pitino issued denials of wrongdoing before and after he was fired at Louisville in October, and Miller has pleaded innocent. But it is highly unlikely that Miller survives and advances in March.
Miller’s name made headlines Friday night, one day after Wildcats junior guard Allonzo Trier was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for testing positive for a banned substance.
Trier will be sidelined Saturday night, when No. 14 Arizona faces Oregon in a Pac-12 game/media circus televised by ESPN. It’s possible Ayton might also be forced to sit out, and who knows how much longer Miller will be coaching and sweating through his shirt?
The first move I made was to bet the Ducks as 2-point home favorites. The game was taken off the board late Friday at the Westgate, while the line drifted up to 2½ and 3 at some other Las Vegas sports books. Oregon figures to close as more than a 3-point favorite, especially if Ayton (19.6 points, 10.9 rebounds per game) is held out.
The Ducks are showing promising signs, which is no surprise for a Dana Altman-coached team. It’s tough to envision the Wildcats winning this game, and NCAA futures tickets on Arizona — currently at 15-1 odds — can be used as toilet paper.
Bet on Oregon if you’re not too late to the anti-Arizona party, and here are nine more plays for Saturday (rotation numbers listed):
520-ST. JOHN’S (-1) over Seton Hall; 531-Michigan (Pick) over MARYLAND; 539-Tennessee (-4) over MISSISSIPPI; 564-UTAH (-2) over Southern California; 593-Kansas (plus-2) over TEXAS TECH; 612-OKLAHOMA (-4) over Kansas State; 641-Wyoming (plus-9½) over FRESNO STATE; 660-BRIGHAM YOUNG (plus-5) over Gonzaga; 662-OREGON STATE (plus-2) over Arizona State.