After a horrendous March Madness, it’s time to go bananas

To answer your first question: Yes, monkeys can type. We can do a lot of things with our hands that humans can do. Hello, ever been to a zoo?

To answer your second question: I have no clue where regular betting columnist Matt Jacob fled. My guess is either Pahrump or Mesquite, since you can’t go very far with $13.58 in your pocket.

To answer your third question: I can’t possibly do any worse, can I? Seriously, it’s not that difficult to jump over a bar that’s lying on the ground. To recap your resident handicapper’s NCAA tournament results: 16-14 record … and $2,138 lost. How do you win more games than you lose and drop that much dough? By making nine wagers of $110 or more and winning exactly one! In the Final Four, Mr. Jacob actually nailed five of six selections … and wound up $660 in the hole, thanks to a $1,100 loser on Ohio State over Kansas in the national semifinals.

Not exactly a tough act to follow here.

Thankfully, despite that pitiful NCAA tournament effort, there are still a few pennies left in the bankroll. And it’s left to me to rebuild it, which I’ll do with some futures plays in baseball, with its regular season ramping up, and the NBA, where the regular season is winding down. (Odds are courtesy of Station Casinos.)

$100 on the Memphis Grizzlies to win the NBA title (30-to-1): If you believe the experts, it’s a four-horse race to the NBA championship: Miami, Chicago, Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Mind you, these are the same prognosticators who had the Mavericks losing to the Trail Blazers, Lakers, Thunder and Heat in last year’s playoffs (in case you forgot, the “experts” went a Jacob-esque 0-for-4).

Speaking of last year’s postseason, the young Grizzlies snuck in as the No. 8 seed, promptly knocked off top-seeded San Antonio and then took Oklahoma City to seven games. With that vital experience in its back pocket and a deep roster that features six players with double-digit scoring averages, Memphis won’t be an easy out this spring.

The Grizzlies are on a 17-9 run that dates to early February, putting them fifth in the Western Conference as of April 3. They’ve also taken down such likely playoff participants as the Thunder, Lakers, Bulls, Mavericks, Nuggets (three times), Hawks, Knicks, Pacers and 76ers.

$100 on the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the NL pennant (10-to-1): In this primate’s opinion, the Dodgers have the best pitcher (Clayton Kershaw) and best hitter (Matt Kemp) in the National League. Sure, beyond that, L.A.’s roster pretty much resembles the bottom of my cage. But for the 23rd straight year, the NL West is a crapshoot, with only the Padres considered a long shot. So it’s not like the Dodgers’ path to the playoffs is blocked.

But here’s what really makes L.A. intriguing: Now that the franchise has rid itself of the Frank McCourt stench, there will be a renewed enthusiasm at Chavez Ravine. Also, despite agreeing to a purchase price that exceeds the net worth of the entire state of California, the new ownership group won’t be afraid to mix it up at the trade deadline if the Dodgers are in contention. Remember: Magic Johnson is a part-owner, and the only thing that rivals Magic’s thirst for cash is his desire to win.

$100 on the Los Angeles Angels to win the World Series (5-to-1): The Dodgers may be heading in the right direction, but Southern California’s best baseball team resides 40 miles to the south. How good are the Angels? They won the Albert Pujols sweepstakes in the offseason, then gave a $77.5 million contract to a pitcher (C.J. Wilson) who’s listed as their No. 4 starter. Additionally, they’re struggling to find room in their lineup for one guy who’s making $9 million this season (Bobby Abreu) and another guy who last season had a team-best 29 home runs and 87 RBIs (Mark Trumbo).

Barring injuries, the Angels are making the playoffs. And with a potent lineup backed by a rotation of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Wilson, it’s tough to see anyone beating Mike Scioscia’s club in a five- or seven-game series.

$120 on Prince Fielder to hit more than 31½ home runs (-120): Fielder has crushed 50, 34, 46, 32 and 38 home runs the last five seasons. Now he moves to Detroit, which plays 18 games each against four American League Central rivals (Royals, White Sox, Indians and Twins) who are expected to trot out the following starting pitchers: Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar, Felipe Paulino, Danny Duffy, Philip Humber, Chris Sale, Derek Lowe, Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez, Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn and Jason Marquis. Somebody get this monkey a bat!

Last week: 5-1 (-$660); Bankroll: $4,720.



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