It's only January and the conference season is just starting to begin, so I know I shouldn't take too much stock into title odds.

But why is Michigan State still getting love from oddsmakers?

Vegas Insider still lists the Spartans as having the second-best odds to win the championship, just behind Duke. I get the Blue Devils. Duke is able to either run up the score on offense or make timely stops on defense.

Michigan State, though, just doesn't look right, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Spartans have been one of the most efficient teams in the nation for the most part this season on offense. However, in the last three games, the Spartans are sandwiched between Colorado and IPFW, the 190th and 181st ranked offenses in the nation for offensive efficiency. I know it's just three games, but that's worrisome, especially in a conference that is one of the worst power conferences in the nation this season.

The Spartans are 13/2 to win the title. I'll have to see more consistency out of this offense to trust the Spartans to make a move in March.

What team offers high upside in title odds?

I know March Madness is built on any team can win. But we all know that's not true when it comes to actually taking home the championship.

Only a select few schools have a legitimate shot, so I'll go with a team that's not a stranger to the spotlight. Louisville has had plenty of turmoil in the offseason, but the Cardinals still have plenty of talent, and they're not that bad.

Louisville is 50/1, so it's not completely an out-of-left-field pick. The Cardinals are experienced in tournament time and I trust them in making stops and scoring enough points to have a chance in March.

What team will sink?

This is easy to me -- Texas Tech.

Be on the lookout for an upset this week anyway against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders must travel this week against Texas and Iowa State, two teams that are more than capable of beating Texas Tech at home.

That's not the only troublesome news for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have 14 games left in the season. Eight of those games are on the road in the rugged Big 12, with five games remaining against ranked opponents.

The Red Raiders are listed at 25/1 at the moment to win the title. If you believe in the Red Raiders...and maybe they'll do well in March...I would wait on making that futures bet, since I'm anticipating that number will create more value as the season progresses.

Weekend upsets

Texas Tech at Iowa State -- Unfortunately I don't have the number for this game, but Iowa State is young and getting better. Don't sleep on the Cyclones at home, and while Iowa State's record isn't great, they've competed at a high level against the best teams in the Big 12. This has all the makings of an upset, so with the Cyclones likely being an underdog, book the Cyclones and the points.

Tennessee at South Carolina -- Tennessee's defense is just bad enough that even the Gamecocks should be able to score the basketball in this contest. The Gamecocks haven't looked good this season, but this is an opportunity for them to put up a fight. The number should be more than just a few points, so I wouldn't back away from the Gamecocks.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. Check out more at Against The Chalk. 

Scott Levine can be reached at or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH

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