Last Updated: 2017-10-27
It’s hard to believe, but the college basketball season starts two weeks from today as we take an updated look at the college basketball futures market. The odds to win the National Championship have been up for a long time, but the focus doesn’t really get to college basketball until right before the season because so many handicappers are focused on football and the NBA.
There are a few really important things to keep in mind about the National Championship odds. Unlike other sports, there are no playoff series in college basketball. The format of March Madness makes hedging easier. Keep in mind that some of these prices could be a lot better for money line rollovers come tournament time. Also, depending on the regional draws, you can probably get numbers close to what we’re seeing on the favorites.
The best approach to betting college basketball futures is generally to start with a few longer shot positions and hope to get some line value on those bets as the season goes along. If those teams get off to good starts, you’ll be holding prices that are no longer available. It is a long time to lock up a portion of your bankroll, so be smart with how you invest.
With that, let’s take a look at the college basketball futures market at BetOnline as of October 27 (sorted by rotation order):
North Carolina +1200
Wichita State +1600
West Virginia +2500
Michigan State +650
Saint Mary’s +4000
Notre Dame +6600
Miami Florida +5000
Florida State +8000
Seton Hall +8000
South Carolina +10000
As mentioned above, you certainly don’t want to take the favorites because you may get better prices if they lose some of their marquee non-conference games or some of their conference games.
For now, let’s look at a few investments worth making:
Minnesota (+8000) – The Golden Gophers enter the season with a Minnesota-sized chip on their shoulders. After winning 24 games last year, Minnesota drew the dreaded 5 vs. 12 matchup in the NCAA Tournament and got bounced right away by Middle Tennessee State, who was under-seeded. The Golden Gophers bring back virtually everybody of consequence and had a top-25 defense per most metrics, including the ones incorporated by Ken Pomeroy. Several teams in the Big Ten experienced big losses, specifically Purdue and Indiana, so Minnesota has the chance to be a top finisher in the conference and get a more favorable draw. Michigan State is a top team, but Michigan is the next highest Big Ten team on the board at +4000, so Minnesota has some upside. If the Golden Gophers knock off Miami FL on November 29 after what could be a decent win at Alabama on November 25, this price will be long gone.
Getting Minnesota into the field with a good draw as a top-16 seed with an 80/1 ticket would be really nice.
Xavier (+8000) – The Musketeers overcame a lot last season to make a really deep March Madness run. Head coach Chris Mack is doing work in Cincinnati and his team comes back ready for another trip to the Elite Eight. With Xavier’s impressive postseason performance, it may have been enough to get Trevon Bluiett to stay. With Bluiett back and a good transfer in Karem Kanter, the Musketeers have a pretty underrated roster in the Big East. Ken Pomeroy’s 2018 ratings have Xavier slightly outside the top 25, but it’s fair to see why people would be skeptical of this team. They started well, got cold, and then finished very strong.
The Big East looks really strong this year and the enormous Crosstown Shootout against Cincinnati on December 2 could be a big non-conference win on the resume. Xavier also goes to Wisconsin in mid-November and to Baylor in late November, so those are three huge non-conference games that could change this price. On the other hand, with two of them on the road, waiting isn’t a bad idea either.
Virginia (+5000) – Ken Pomeroy’s initial 2018 rankings have Virginia in the top 10. The others are Villanova (+2000), Kentucky (+1000), Arizona (+800), Wichita State (+1600), Kansas (+1400), Duke (+500), West Virginia (+2500), Florida (+2500), and Michigan State (+650). Clearly, the Cavaliers have some big-time value given those prices. The Cavaliers will have a chance to make an early statement in Morgantown against West Virginia, in a game where they will likely be a dog. The ACC will obviously be strong again.
If Tony Bennett’s team can get just a little bit more offensive efficiency this season, we know that the defense can play. An early second-round exit in last year’s tournament has led to a little bit of distrust in Bennett’s team. London Perrantes is a big loss, but this is a team with good leadership and a very talented freshmen class. Virginia plays Wisconsin on November 27 at home, in what should be a good resume builder against a down Badgers team, and has the chance to beat a pretty good Vanderbilt team on a neutral on November 23.
We’ll try to update these odds monthly as the season goes along.