The Favorite: West Virginia Mountaineers (+250) – We know that the Big East is absolutely wide open this year, but the Mountaineers probably have the most talented team in the bunch. NCAA football betting fans are going to look forward to what Geno Smith can do in this, his second season at the helm for the ‘Neers under center.
The question is what the fallout will look like from a tumultuous offseason in which Bill Stewart was replaced by new Head Coach Dana Holgorsen. Still, the toughest tasks along the way this year in conference are at Cincinnati and at South Florida, but getting the Backyard Brawl at home against Pittsburgh is absolutely key.
Team To Avoid: Pittsburgh Panthers (+350) – The Panthers just had too many changes in the offseason to try to back at this type of a price. Todd Graham really thought that he was staying with Tulsa after the coaching carousel had appeared to stop turning, but alas, after the dismissal of Michael Haywood from the coaching position just days after he acquired it, Graham has taken his crazy offense to the Big East. However, will it all work? We tend to doubt it, at least right now. The talent just isn’t there beyond the running back position, where U-Pitt is tremendously stacked.
The good news is that there are only three road games on the conference slate at Rutgers, Louisville, and West Virginia, but we just don’t get the feeling that this is a team that is holding serve at Heinz Field this year.
Dark Horse to Watch: Syracuse Orange (+1300) – Give the Orange and Head Coach Doug Marrone a whole heck of a lot of credit for making it to a bowl game last year after the program suffered through a number of dismal seasons. Don’t confuse Syracuse for a team that is the best in the conference, but as the Big East has proven over the years, it’s not always the best team, but the one that just finds a way to win some tight, gritty conference clashes that gets the job done.
The road slate only features three games, and if the ‘Cuse can take care of a team like West Virginia at home, you never know whether these last few games of the year are going to make or break their season.
Improving Team: Louisville Cardinals (+800) – This probably isn’t quite the year for Head Coach Charlie Strong and company yet, but there is no doubt that the Cardinals are on the rise again in the Big East and should end up bowling this year thanks to a weak non-conference schedule. The Redbirds had the best recruiting class in the Big East, and many think that they had it by a country mile. Though those kids won’t all be able to get the job done quite yet, 2012 will be Louisville’s year with just three road games in conference. Still, this will be a fun team to watch grow throughout 2011-12.
Odds to win Big East Conference:
– West Virginia +200
– South Florida +250
– Pittsburgh +350
– Louisville +500
– Cincinnati +550
– Syracuse +800
– Rutgers +1000
– Connecticut +2000