Even though the university part of the season is over, soccer still dominates the betting market at this time of winter. The big shadow cast by football in terms of betting interest and media coverage, well, that’s good news for those who bet on college basketball.
The CBB futures board has yet to be picked up by the public as many are thinking about the Super Bowl, not March Madness. With more room to move, let’s examine the CBB futures board to see what value plays are left.
All numbers, unless otherwise noted, come from DraftKings as it consistently offers Final Four odds.
look back before moving forward
The first step bettors should take before adding futures is to reassess their portfolios, which were likely created in October. With the conference outrights still to be decided for a while and the tournament is months away, take a look in the broader sense. What is the ratio of teams in the portfolio that have exceeded preseason expectations versus those that seem disappointed?
Unfortunately, North Carolina, Kentucky Y crighton they are likely to give gamblers some level of doom over their wallet. That’s certainly how I feel about my UNC and Bluejays preseason plays. The Tar Heels are stuck in the middle of the ACC package, while Creighton went through a terrible six-game losing streak. Yes, there is an opportunity for opposing bettors to step in now and take these once prized teams to a big drop for a national championship (North Carolina +3500; Creighton +4000; Kentucky +4500); however, that doesn’t have to happen anytime soon. For those who already have tickets, just expect a change at the end of the season. Time and money would be better spent identifying teams that look like they can make a surprise run to a national title, or in the conference regular season, since the field is smaller and the payout goes out earlier.
As for the teams that provide optimism to punters who took an early chance on them, that honor goes to purdue, Connecticut, Y Tennessee. The Boilermakers were 66-1 in early November to win the national championship, as they no longer had Jaden Ivey and needed to rely primarily on big man Zach Edey. So far, it has worked out well as they are the current Big Ten favorites. (-130 BetRivers) and also Edey for the Wooden Award (-110 DraftKings).
The Huskies began the season in the 80-1 range to win the national championship, but now they look like one of the most complete teams in the country. They have the height of Adama Sanogo and Donovan Clingan who pair well with the perimeter of Jordan Hawkins, Andre Jackson Jr. and Tristen Newton.
Rick Barnes once again has his Volunteers playing some of the best defense in the country, by default, making them a contender for the national championship.
Too late to get on board?
My feelings about Purdue mimic the market. Good story, good team, very good big man in the middle with the inside track to win the conference, but there’s no compelling reason to bet on them now. Bettors get no value for less than even money for a conference. There are still five other Big Ten contenders who can win it. Looking ahead to March, no matter what they’re doing now, Matt Painter has a terrible track record of turning regular season wins into deep tournament runs.
Even after spending so long at the top of the rankings (which bettors need only pay cursory attention to) Purdue (+1800) still has higher probabilities than houston (+650), Kansas (+1200)tennessee (+1200), Alabama (+1400)University of Connecticut (+1400), Arizona (+1600) Y University of California at Los Angeles (+1600).
However, now is a good time to consider the plays at UConn and Tennessee, as they can get a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and will be popular recommendations when public bettors begin to focus on college basketball. The Huskies have the best combination of a top-10 KenPom rating in both offensive and defensive efficiency (a must for contenders) compared to these aforementioned favorites. Using time as a component here, it’s positive that UConn has lost three of its last four games. There is value in a futures ticket to a national championship and one to the Final Four (+350).
Remember, betting on a team to win the national championship is different than how conference play is handled, as the travel, rivalries, and hostile gaming environments are much different in January than they are in March. Kansas went on a two-game losing streak in the conference last year, leading many to write off their national championship hopes.
As for Tennessee, the defense is the best in the country according to KenPom, but the offense is 30th in the country. Since the Vols are playing like a team that can get a No. 1 seed, a ticket to the Final Four (+330) it seems much more realistic to obtain and then store. The reason is that any bet below 3-1 for the Final Four is less than attractive for what is basically a 3 game parlay (with the removal of the lopsided first round contest). If the Vols do indeed land a No.1 seed, the Final Four odds will be much closer to +100.
There is absolutely no value in Houston’s overall favorite for both the national championship and the Final Four. (+160) possibilities. Even if a bettor thinks Houston can win the national championship, that doesn’t mean they should be bet on. A futures game should be a combination of a realistic chance of winning AND value. There should also be enough space quotas, to at least allow for the idea of coverage once the tournament seedings are announced on Selection Sunday. Save the bullets for Houston in tournament play.
Outstanding Conference Acts
At this point, there are about 12-15 conference games left. Much of the betting on the future of the conference now is about timing: getting a good number before a game or stretch of the season that could upset the league’s standings.
That is why bettors should contemplate Javier (+150 BetRivers) to win the Big East. Although UConn (+300 BetRivers) looks like a strong national championship contender, he has three losses in the Big East, while the Musketeers are undefeated and atop the conference standings along with Providence (+650 BetRivers).
Sean Miller immediately turned the tables on Xavier (back) and is set for one of the biggest conference games to date on Saturday when marquette (+250 BetRivers) arrives at the Cintas Center. The Golden Eagles are also exceeding expectations; however, this game is slightly in Xavier’s favor according to KenPom.
After Saturday, Xavier will be heavily favored against DePaul and Georgetown. That current number of +150 will probably go away. Endorsing Xavier for a conference is also based on Providence facing some upcoming losses against Creighton, Marquette and Butler.
Similar odds and times are in play for Virginia (+180 BetRivers) to win the ACC. I’m not normally one to hang on to favorites, but an ACC outright futures ticket in Virginia revolves around their defense which, once again, is spectacular and how the end of their conference schedule pans out.
Relying on the defensive mindset of Tony Bennett, who has a piece of five regular-season titles since 2014, is even more important this year, where upsets happen every night in the ACC.
Now, Clemson (+450 BetRivers) it’s at the top of the conference standings, but that’s mostly because it started the season with the weakest side on the schedule before the tougher games roll around. Then comes the surprising joker miami (+350 BetRivers). The teams with the big names and expectations, UNC Y Duke, they are in the 6/7-1 range right next to pittsburgh.
The Cavaliers already have two losses, but the timing is in their favor for a gamble now, as Clemson’s final stretch of the season has yet to take place and Miami’s turn to do the same is early February. . Obviously, the bookmakers know this too. However, since these two teams are ahead of the Cavs in the standings but below them on the odds board, any Virginia win before those stretches will lower their odds even further.
KenPom has Virginia winning all of their remaining games except for the contest in Chapel Hill at the end of February. Of course, that might not happen, but it sounds like the bookies will continue to back Virginia moving forward.
Placing a bet now is a value move as the positive number is still available.