Last Updated: 2018-01-03
It has been exactly a month since we took a look at the college basketball futures betting market. We’ll have some additional updates from Locky Lockerson as the season goes along, but as far as the nuts and bolts of the market, it’s time to take another overview and see where the value lies as conference play heats up.
Our first update came back on October 27 and the tips at that point were longer shot prices, with Minnesota at +8000, Xavier at +8000, and Virginia at +5000. When we re-visited things in early December, Minnesota was down to +5000, Xavier was down to +3300, and Virginia stayed the same at +5000. As we look here on January 3, Minnesota is back up to +6600 with a slow start. Xavier is down to +2500, though, so we’re holding some nice line value there. Virginia is down to +3300, so we’ve got some positive expectation on that one as well.
Conference play is such an interesting animal. You’re going to see a lot of futures movement based on individual games or weeks. Most of the movement will be on the middle tier of teams in a respective power conference. For example, Kansas has lost back-to-back games, but the futures price is still at +1400, which is exactly where it was a month ago. There isn’t a whole lot of incentive for oddsmakers to push that price back just because Kansas has lost a couple of games. Kansas is still a public team and will still take on money heading into the tournament. You want to try to isolate teams in the middle of the conferences that have the opportunity to score some big wins and improve their chances of getting a better seed.
Finding buy points for college basketball futures is not particularly easy. Sometimes you have to speculate on whether or not a team can pull off a signature upset in order to get out in front of the adjustment. If that team gets embarrassed, your number may not look as good. Also, keep in mind that the goal of every futures investment is to guarantee profit. Picking Xavier at +8000 and getting Xavier to win the tournament at +8000 is incredible. Having a live +8000 ticket into the Elite Eight or Final Four assures the chance to make money. It is the same with a +2500 ticket or even a +1000 ticket. The NCAA Tournament lends itself better to hedging than any other postseason out there, so use it to your advantage.
In our December update, the teams that were tipped were Seton Hall at +8000, Baylor at +6600, SMU at +12500, and Gonzaga at +3300. Seton Hall is now at +5000. Baylor moved up to +8000. SMU dropped to +8000. Gonzaga dropped to +2500. We’ve got some value on three of those four teams over the last month, so that is good. Having a diversified futures portfolio with different buy points and difference prices is a great strategy for college basketball because you wind up with a ton of options to lock up profit.
We’ll stay consistent with these updates and use the futures odds from BetOnline Sportsbook. Be aware that better prices could very well be out there at other sportsbooks and we advise that you check out our sportsbook reviews to take advantage of exclusive promo codes and shop around for the best futures prices.
Here are the futures odds as of January 3 (sorted by rotation order):
North Carolina +1400
Wichita State +2000
West Virginia +3300
Michigan State +500
Saint Mary’s +6600
Notre Dame +5000
Miami Florida +4000
Florida State +8000
Seton Hall +5000
South Carolina +25000
Texas A&M +2000
Rhode Island +20000
Virginia Tech +12500
Middle Tennessee +50000
Ball State +50000
Georgia Tech +50000
NC State +50000
Arizona State +3300
Texas Tech +12500
Mississippi State +25000
Northern Iowa +50000
Boise State +25000
Stephen F. Austin +50000
Oklahoma State +25000
There are now 72 teams listed, which is only a handful more than we saw this time last month. You’ll notice long shots like Loyola-Chicago, Towson, and Stephen F. Austin. Even at 500/1, there obviously isn’t a whole lot of value in teams like that.
Let’s see which teams are worthy of adding to our list in this update:
Middle Tennessee State (+50000) – The Blue Raiders would certainly be a long shot to make it to the Elite Eight, but at 500/1, depending on how the brackets shake out, you’ll have the opportunity to make sizable money line bets early in the tournament as a hedge. The Blue Raiders have played the 10th-hardest adjusted strength of schedule per Ken Pomeroy and they are 9-4 with that grueling gauntlet so far. Now that they are settled into Conference USA play, Kermit Davis’s team should rule the roost as the class of the conference. Money was coming in against MTSU for the conference opener against UAB and the Blue Raiders gutted out a win. This price is kind of crazy for a team that has a good chance at an at-large with close losses to USC and Miami and last season’s tournament performance.
Texas Tech (+12500) – We don’t have a price from December to compare the current price with, but Chris Beard’s team is doing some serious work. The Red Raiders’ upset of Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse said a lot about the state of the Jayhawks program right now, but don’t let that completely obscure the fact that Texas Tech is for real. The Red Raiders trucked Baylor and rolled Kansas on the road. They have a nice win over Nevada. This price is only going to go down. Remember what Chris Beard did with then Arkansas Little Rock to turn them around and make them a worthy foe in the NCAA Tournament? He’s got more talent here and a team that has played relentless defense so far.
Purdue (+4000) – Purdue was +3300 a month ago and hasn’t done anything to hurt its perception. In fact, the Boilermakers crushed Valparaiso by 30 and beat Butler by 15 on a neutral. The Big Ten has an elite team in Michigan State, but the Boilermakers aren’t that far away. Purdue and Michigan State are the only teams in the country that are in the top 12 in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency per the KenPom metrics. Michigan State is +500. Purdue is +4000. Matt Painter’s team lacks bench depth, but the starters play a ton of minutes in the NCAA Tournament anyway. Purdue has a big set of road games at Michigan and at Minnesota coming up next week, so maybe that is your buy point with a loss in one or both of those, but wins in those two spots mean this number is going down. Consider all factors and bet accordingly.
Auburn (+12500) – One more long shot in this update and that is the Auburn Tigers. There may be a bit of recency bias here, in that Auburn just upset a ranked Tennessee team in Knoxville, but the Tigers are on the right track in Bruce Pearl’s fourth season. Sometimes it takes a while to turn a bad team around. Pearl’s Tigers won 18 games last season and have already surpassed the 11 games that they won during the 2015-16 campaign. The SEC is the best it has been in several years with top teams like Kentucky, Florida, and Texas A&M. Alabama and Tennessee are on the rise. Auburn is the forgotten team of the bunch. The Tigers do have some concerns in that they may slot in that 8/9 or 7/10 type of game and run into a top-two seed, but the Tigers have a lot of games to play before the conference schedule ends with Texas A&M, at Georgia, Kentucky, at South Carolina, Alabama, at Florida, at Arkansas, and South Carolina from February 7 until the conference tournament. If they can gel a little more and grab some of those games, they may work their way into a more favorable draw.
-END OF JANUARY 3 UPDATE-
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.
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