Thehave returned to prominence on the national basketball scene, looming as the top seed in the East Regional heading into this NCAA championship tournament.
But the East has the potential to be contentious, with a tough Miami team, Marquette and Syracuse out of the Big East and perennial pain in the butt Butler, among others, looking to make trouble.
East Regional action starts Thursday at Rupp Arena in Lexington as sixth-seeded Butler, trying to recapture a little of that magic from a couple seasons ago, meets the dual champion of the Patriot League,11th-seeded Bucknell. For those inclined to bet on March Madness, the odds are intriguing and some computer predictions point to underdogs ruling the day.
Then third-seeded Marquette, which shared the Big East's regular-season title, goes against the champion of the Southern Conference, 14th-seeded Davidson.
Then later Thursday out in San Jose 12th-seeded Cal, playing about 50 miles from home, takes on fifth-seeded UNLV, after which fourth-seeded Syracuse, playing about 23 hundred and 50 miles from home, matches up against 13th-seeded Montana.
In the early betting, the Bulldogs were favored by four points over the Bison in a match where the East Region computer predictions point to an upset; the Warriors -- oops, "Golden Eagles" -- were favored by four points over the Wildcats; the Rebels were favored by three points over the Bears; and the Orange were favored by 13 points over the Grizzlies.
Friday's East Region play begins in Dayton as eighth-seeded NC State battles ninth-seeded Temple, and top-seeded Indiana takes on the winner of Wednesday's LIU-Brooklyn/James Madison game.
Finally, down in Austin, second-seeded Miami, dual champion of the ACC, rolls with the champion of the Big West, 15th-seeded Pacific, after which seventh-seeded Illinois matches up with 10th-seeded Colorado.
Early this week the Wolfpack was favored by four points over the Owls; the Hurricanes were favored by a dozen points over the Tigers; and the Illini were favored by two points over the Buffaloes.
In NCAA tournament futures betting, Bovada was listing Indiana as a 6/5 favorite to win the East Region. Miami was the second choice at 7/2, followed by Syracuse at 11/2, Marquette at 12/1, UNLV at 16/1, NC State at 18/1, Butler at 20/1, Illinois at 25/1, Cal and Davidson at 40/1, Bucknell and Colorado at 50/1, Temple at 66/1, Montana and Pacific at 100/1 and James Madison and Brooklyn at 250/1.