Kentucky Is Your NCAA Favorite; A Peyton Manning Signing Is Close

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Today in sports: Oddsmakers list the Wildcats as the team most likely to win the NCAA tournament, the crop of March Madness contenders again fails to impress, and Penn State trustees have finally explained the Joe Paterno firing.

The NCAA men's basketball tournament begins Thursday, and with it comes the requisite number of hugely divergent opinions about who has the inside track on a national championship. All this information can be frustrating, especially if all you're trying to do is fill out an office pool in less than three hours. For those of you drawn to simplicity -- and being aligned with the proverbial smart money -- here are the eight teams Las Vegas oddsmakers believe are most like to win a title:

  • Kentucky: 8-5
  • North Carolina: 5-1
  • Syracuse: 7-1
  • Ohio State: 7-1
  • Michigan State: 8-1
  • Kansas: 10-1
  • Missouri: 10-1
  • Duke: 12-1
  • Baylor: 25-1

[AP and Vegas Insider]

Grousing about the quality of a tournament field is a March tradition almost as revered as Fearless, Out-On-A-Limb Predictions, and this year is no exception. If the criticism seems to resonate more than ever, it's because the field expanded from 65 to 68 teams last year, so by definition the competition is being watered down ever so slightly. Also, if you believe the eyewitness testimony of college basketball junkies across the country, the quality of play across the board this year has been off. Which, again, it feels like we hear people say every year.  [The New York Times]

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Peyton Manning is reportedly all done making free agent visits and could decide on a new club as early as Wednesday, with the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals looking like the two favorites. See, this is why football media types are so fond of Manning: After six months of having to write variations on the "Peyton Manning's time in Indianapolis could be growing short" story, he has the decency to visit with all his suitors in a single weekend and make a semi-prompt decision about where he wants to play next year. [ESPN]

The Manning-to-Denver talk is not sitting well with current Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who sources say was "rattled" enough by Manning's visit to cancel plans to speak with reporters at a charity fundraiser over the weekend. He could be even more rattled to hear that if the team does sign Manning, they'd apparently rather trade Tebow than let him be tutored by the future Hall of Fame signalcaller. [PFT]

Penn State's trustees have issued a statement belatedly explaining that their decision to fire Joe Paterno in November was the result of Paterno's " failure of leadership" in the wake of assault allegations against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Which makes you wonder why it took four months of pressure from "the Penn State community" before they were willing to offer up an explanation. [AP]

The legitimacy of international cricket was already very much in doubt after three former members of Pakistan's national team were sentenced to jail time for alleged match-fixing back in 2010, but the International Cricket Council is pushing back against a report in yesterday's Sunday Times that there is an ongoing investigation into whether the semi-finals matchup between India and Pakistan last summer was rigged. The story also has an off-hand mention of how players on the New Zealand squad have conspired to fix matches, which prompted another angry denial from New Zealand Cricket.  [BBC Sport]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.