Although this post is a little late, I wanted to give one final Group Stage update on the African Cup of Nations. Cape Verde came through with a stoppage time goal and they have advanced to the quarterfinals. Not a whole lot has changed in the 2nd round, but there are sure to be some fireworks before this thing is done. Here are the current projections for the group stage with only 6 games remaining.
|90||Cape Verde Islands||93.97||A||5||5||2|
While we expected things to be very tight in Group A, the top 2 in the other 3 groups remains exactly as projected. Here is what we have:
As stated previous, Ivory Coast is still the favorite to win it all. Unfortunately they are now down to +125 to win the whole tournament. Unfortunately for Mali, at this point it looks like they will be unable to avoid Ivory Coast’s side of the bracket. It is a daunting task, and at +1400 their odds are worse than before the tournament despite probably a tougher road. I wouldn’t grab them anymore.
At this point I am looking to the other side of the bracket. Ghana should defeat Niger and draw Cape Verde, which is a great matchup. Ghana is currently 2nd favorite to win the tournament at +550. Before the tournament they were +650, but they are a virtual certainty to make the semis now. Another team to look at might be Tunisia at +2400, but I can’t trust that squad. It’s looking more and more like an Ivory Coast-Ghana final. At this point, I’d probably grab some Ghana to pair with my +180 Ivory Coast. You should be able to do very well with that combination.
After an exciting Saturday, I wanted to take a look at some teams that either helped or hurt their bubble chances. Despite all of the action, only 2 teams moved up enough on the Cro-Curve to get into the at-large picture. La Salle and Arizona St. are now in. Alabama and Wyoming are now out.
Teams That Moved Up the Most
Villanova: The Wildcats moved all the way from 67 to 57 after their second win this week over a top 5 team. Villanova came back to defeat Syracuse in OT in stunning fashion, and after they’ve proven that they can beat the best, they are sure to be in the at-large conversation.
Virginia: Although beating BC is no significant accomplishment, Virginia just needs wins at this point. Some may believe the ‘Hoos are safely in the dance, but I beg to differ. UVA is 0-3 against the CAA, including a loss against 2-17 Old Dominion. Wins over UNC, Wisconsin and Tennessee are nice, but they might not be enough. The win yesterday brought Virginia closer to the bubble.
Saint Mary’s: At 17-4, the Gaels have to be looked at as another WCC at-large team. Similar to UVA, their win over Pepperdine was not all that significant, but each win gets the Gaels closer and closer to the big dance. The win at BYU should help, but the Gaels at this point probably still need more.
La Salle: As mentioned above, the Explorers win at VCU on Saturday was massive. Not only did that win catapult La Salle back into my bracket, I have them as the final team on the 11 line. The only real blemish on the resume is a home loss to Central Connecticut St. in the 2nd game of the season, but since then, the Explorers have gone 13-4 with all 4 losses coming on the road against either tournament teams or bubble teams. La Salle has done everything right. They just need to keep it up.
Teams That Hurt Their Chances
Texas A&M: The Aggies were once 12-3 and coming off a huge win at Rupp. Now, Texas A&M has some serious work to do to get back into the at-large picture. The latest struggle was an embarrassing home loss to an under .500 Georgia team.
Arkansas: This is the perfect example of what happens when you lose to an average team. Arkansas had beat the teams they were supposed to beat and lost to the teams they were supposed to lose to. Other than a narrow home victory over Oklahoma, the Razorbacks had not done much to enhance their case. A drubbing at the hands of South Carolina has severely hurt their chances, and they will need to rip off a number of wins to get back into it.
Boise St.: Boise St. was in the same boat as Arkansas. They started off 13-2 and even got a win at Creighton. They were in the at-large discussion all across the basketball world. Things have taken a turn for the worse over the past two weeks. Being blown out by Nevada has slid the Broncos much further down in the pecking order. Boise St’s next 5 games are @ Colorado State, home v. UNLV, @San Diego St., home v. Wyoming, and @ New Mexico. We’ll know soon whether this team is a serious contender.
I’m sure at this point everyone knows about what Miami is capable of. In addition to now having a Final Four coach in Jim Larranaga, the Canes believe they can make some real noise. Throttling Duke by 27 is how you gain some national attention. But even before this game, there were signs that the Canes were for real.
When you lose to Florida Gulf Coast in the second game of the season, people tend to write you off. Miami was missing leading scorer Durand Scott in that game. Additionally, Miami lost two games after flying almost 5,000 miles to Hawaii. One was to top 5 Arizona, and the other was in overtime to Indiana St. Leading rebounder Reggie Johnson was injured and did not make that trip. Miami has won the other 14 games they’ve played.
When Johnson and Scott have both played, the Canes are 6-0. In those 6 games they’ve defeated Duke, Michigan St., 16-3 Charlotte, won at UCF and UMASS, and defeated Detroit by an average of almost 20 points. Despite Miami being ranked 25 by the AP and Unranked by the coaches, they currently are 14-3 with the #2 SOS in the country. After last night’s dominant performance, Miami currently sits at #8 on the Cro-Curve, which is good for a #2 seed. Fans and Barry Larkin should be excited for what’s to come.
We are through 1 round of the Group Stage of the African Cup of Nations 2013. While the tournament has already seen its fair share of draws, it certainly hasn’t been lacking in excitement. Whether it be a last minute goal from Tunisia or Burkina Faso, or a kung fu kick by the Ethiopian keeper, this tournament is off to a great start. Even better is that all the games are streamed in HD on WatchESPN.com.
I projected the tournament last week, and I want to revisit the projections to include results that have already occurred.
|102||Cape Verde Islands||93.60||A||1||1||4|
Given these projected standings, here is what the knockout stage would look like:
The three teams I liked at the start are still projected to be on the same side of the bracket, but that could easily change. The odds are decreasing, but I still think there is value in Mali and Angola. If Mali can draw with Ghana on Thursday, they should be able to avoid Ivory Coast until the finals.
The highest competition in African Football is upon us. 16 African nations will battle it out to see who are not only champions of Africa, but also will attend the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil this June. With more at stake this go around, things are more likely to be hotly contested.
One place to find value is in the future champion of the Cup of Nations. Here is currently where the 16 participants stand in the current Crotistics rankings with South Africa being the host nation factored in:
|102||Cape Verde Islands||93.56||+6700||A|
What can we gather from these numbers?
1. Ivory Coast should win the entire tournament. At +180, this is a fantastic bet. If the Ivory Coast makes the finals, they will certainly be a massive favorite to win it, and holding this futures ticket, you can bet the other team +0.5 or higher to possibly cash in on two wagers and not just one. Ivory Coast plays all 3 of their group games in Rustenburg, and if they win the group, their quarterfinal game will also be in Rustenburg. This is a big advantage. Don’t be scared of the strength in Group D.
2. South Africa, despite hosting the tournament, seems unlikely to win. Their group is very close, and things could easily not go their way. At only +910, this is not a wise decision.
3. If you’re looking for a longshot, look at either Mali or Angola. At 16 to 1, I like Mali because they shouldn’t have a problem advancing to the quarterfinals. Additionally, since Group A is rather weak, they also have a good shot at advancing to the semifinals. At +1600 this is pretty good value. I also like Angola at 46 to 1. Given these rankings, if everything goes as planned, Angola would actually meet Mali in the quarterfinals. If this happens, and you bet Mali and Angola, you would be guaranteed to have a semifinal squad with great odds.
Out of these futures, I would take Ivory Coast, Mali and Angola. There is a very realistic possibility that Ivory Coast could meet one of the other two teams in the finals. Regardless, your best bet is to go with the deserved favorite of the tournament.