Last Updated: 2017-12-04
The college basketball season is just under a month old, but we have already seen a lot of interesting developments. There are some teams that are way better than expected and others that are nowhere near the levels that we anticipated. The non-conference portion of the season is always interesting because of the roster turnover in college hoops. Teams have to learn how to play together and coaches have to learn their personnel in order to set up substitution rotations and offensive sets. Teams that have experience are far better off in these big non-conference games. Some teams without a lot of experience will gain it throughout the season and become a force in conference play and the tournament.
When we previewed the college basketball futures betting market back on October 27, we isolated three teams – Minnesota, Xavier, and Virginia. Over the course of the season, you want to be on the lookout for teams that make sense from a futures standpoint. You basically have to treat these teams like stocks. Wait for the market to hit a good point and then buy. You’ll simply hold your investment through the end of the season. In an ideal world, you’ll accumulate enough futures to have a good chunk of the NCAA Tournament field and be able to go to work on hedging from there.
When we first touched on this topic for the 2017-18 season, we tipped Minnesota at +8000, Xavier at +8000, and Virginia at +5000 per the odds at BetOnline. Minnesota is down to +5000. Xavier is +3300. Virginia is still +5000. Getting positive line value on these is very important. So far, we’re sitting pretty with those tickets.
We’re going to try to update the futures market each month, staying consistent with the odds from BetOnline. Keep in mind, however, that it is always in your best interest to shop around for the best prices. See which sportsbook will work best for you by checking out our sportsbook reviews and the exclusive promo codes offered by those affiliates.
Once again sorted by rotation number, here are the college basketball futures odds to win the NCAA Tournament per BOL:
North Carolina +2000
Wichita State +1600
West Virginia +5000
Michigan State +600
Saint Mary’s +6600
Notre Dame +2800
Miami Florida +5000
Florida State +12500
Seton Hall +8000
South Carolina +25000
Texas A&M +1800
Rhode Island +25000
Virginia Tech +12500
Middle Tennessee +50000
Ball State +50000
Georgia Tech +25000
NC State +25000
This is certainly an interesting list of numbers and we have added a few more teams to the mix. Before we add a few more to our personal list of futures, I just want to remind readers that we’re not necessarily looking to pick the winner. If we can, that is awesome. But, the entire goal of the futures market is to guarantee profit. You want to take a high-value position, like an 80/1 on Xavier and hope that they get to the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight, thus allowing you to play into your 80/1.
To keep the math simple, let’s say you’ve got $10 on Xavier to win $800. If Xavier gets into the Sweet Sixteen and is a small -120 money line favorite, you can play $100 on +110 to win $110 on the other side. Your long-term investment could net a $100 profit or you could still have $700 of potential profit on Xavier going into the Elite Eight. At that point, if Xavier is a slight underdog and the other side is, say, -130 on the money line, you can bet $260 to win $200. If the favorite wins, you scored $90 worth of profit for your investment ($200 winnings, $110 losses from the $10 future and the $100 Sweet Sixteen bet). If Xavier wins again, you still have $440 in possible profit out there on your Xavier future. This is rough math to prove a point. It isn’t the optimal way to hedge. That’s something that you would have to consider down the line. It’s all up to your risk profile to see how much you would want to hedge into your futures ticket. But, as you can see, you have options and that is the most important thing.
Here are a few teams to consider adding to your futures list as of December 4:
Seton Hall (+8000) – This is the same price that we saw on Seton Hall back in late October before the season. Since then, the Pirates have opened 7-1 with wins over Texas Tech and Louisville, with that win over the Cardinals on the road. Seton Hall’s only loss came to a pretty good Rhode Island team when the Rams shot 53 percent from deep in a neutral site at the Barclays Center. The Pirates have another decent test this weekend against VCU and then play Creighton on December 28. If they can win those two games going into conference play, we won’t see this +8000 price tag.
Baylor (+6600) – This is a tough one. Baylor is coming off of back-to-back losses to Xavier and Wichita State, who are both tournament teams. The Xavier game was the first true roadie for the Bears and the Musketeers are playing terrific basketball. Baylor lost to Wichita State by seven at home, but Wichita shot 62.5 percent from deep and Baylor shot just 23.8 percent. The Bears tied it with 3:10 left and couldn’t score again.
They’ll be a tournament team, but the reason why it’s tough to determine whether to buy now or wait is because the conference play schedule starts with a road game at Texas Tech, TCU at home, Texas at home, West Virginia in Morgantown, and then Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum. Between now and then, Baylor won’t do anything to move its futures price because the soft part of the schedule is here. Perhaps we can wait, but if Baylor starts well in conference play, this number will be gone. If Baylor does not, we could possibly get +8000 or higher.
SMU (+12500) – Somehow, SMU’s number went from +10000 prior to the season to +12500 now. The Mustangs own wins over Arizona and USC, two bona fide top-15 teams. Why has the price gone down? Who knows? SMU lost to Western Kentucky, which was not a good look, but that was the game after knocking off Arizona. The AAC once again appears to be going through either SMU or Cincinnati, so the Mustangs could very well be a top-20 seed come Tournament Time. SMU has a big one on the road against TCU tomorrow. You might want to grab this number in case they win that one. It probably won’t go up with a loss, but it would definitely go down with a win.
Gonzaga (+3300) – Similar to SMU, Gonzaga has a high-profile game that could increase the team’s stock. Even a close loss against Villanova on Tuesday night would bump the Zags up a bit in the minds of bettors and bookmakers. Gonzaga routed Creighton, owns a blowout win over an Ohio State team that just dominated Wisconsin, and has a close loss to Florida in a crazy double-overtime thriller. Gonzaga was +2500 coming into the season and really hasn’t done anything to hurt its stock. Six players are already averaging double figures for Mark Few’s team and we know that this team will roll through conference play. This may not be the same Gonzaga team we’ve seen in recent years, but there’s still a lot to work with here. It’s hard to see a better price being available at some point and Few’s team should only get better.
-END OF DECEMBER 4 UPDATE-
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.