The 2020-21 college basketball season tips off Wednesday and a quick glance at NCAA Tournament futures odds shows us that several teams are capable of cutting down the nets in March.
College hoops junkies were robbed of March Madness in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are about to be rewarded for months of patience with a full slate of action on a daily basis.
AP No.1 Gonzaga is a deserved title favorite at several sportsbooks, with FanDuel offering the Zags at 7-1 odds to win the Big Dance. Coach Mark Few’s squad looks to be the most complete team in the nation, and with their usual cupcake conference schedule you can already peg them as one of the top seeds come tournament time.
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Also sitting at the top of futures boards is No. 3 Villanova (6-1 at DraftKings and 9-1 at PointsBet) out of the Big East. The Wildcats feature one of the nation’s top backcourts led by senior point guard Collin Gillespie, who should serve as a stabilizing presence for a team that will have plenty of depth along with an elite coach in Jay Wright.
No. 2 Baylor is also at consensus single-digit odds to win the title, sitting at +950 at FanDuel and PointsBet. The Bears lead a strong Big 12 with several programs capable of making a deep run in March. No. 6 Kansas, a year-to-year mainstay at the upper echelon of blue bloods, can be found as high as 18-1 at FanDuel, but No. 14 Texas Tech (30-1 at PointsBet) and No. 15 West Virginia (25-1 at PointsBet) also have the pedigree and strong coaching to make a run to the Final Four this season. Coach Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers may be the best betting value of them all.
Last year the Big Ten was the nation’s strongest league from top to bottom. Although that will likely continue to be the case this season, there is no clear-cut standout conference favorite. No. 5 Iowa, No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 8 Illinois and No. 13 Michigan State are all in the 10-1 to 20-1 range on futures boards, but bettors would be wise not to count out other Big Ten programs like No. 23 Ohio State, No. 24 Rutgers, No. 25 Michigan, Indiana and Purdue from making noise when it comes time to dance.
No. 4 Virginia and No. 9 Duke look to be the class of the ACC heading into the new season. The Cavaliers sit at 11-1 odds to win the title at FanDuel and PointsBet, while the Blue Devils can be found as high as 16-1 at FanDuel. Duke curiously seems to be flying a bit under the radar heading into the new season. Expect the Blue Devils to boast one of the nation’s most efficient offenses with standout five-star freshman Jalen Johnson leading the way.
No. 10 Kentucky and No. 12 Tennessee lead the pack in the SEC. As is often the case, bettors have to pay a premium when looking to back coach John Calipari’s Kentucky team that continues to reload on freshmen talent every year.
Out west in the Pac-12, No. 18 Arizona State, No. 20 Oregon and No. 22 UCLA are the three clear conference favorites. Bettors should pay special attention to second-year coach Mick Cronin’s UCLA squad (40-1 at PointsBet) in the betting markets this season, especially early on. The Bruins started slow last year while the players assimilated to Cronin’s unique style of play, but they finished the season strong and have the size, perimeter shooting and depth to make a deep tournament run.
College hoops offers some of the softest and most beatable betting markets out there on a day-to-day basis, especially on game totals and traditionally even more so early on in the season. Spreads and totals move quickly based off information, and in the year of COVID-19 it will be even more important to stay on top of team news as the pandemic continues to impact the sporting world.
With more uncertainty and chaos comes more opportunities in the betting marketplace. As always, be sure to shop around for the best price available. The biggest advantage we have as bettors is our ability to get down on the best number, and always seeking to find the best price is quintessential to long-term success. With more legal betting options at our disposal, there are even more opportunities to find a favorable number and assemble a winning portfolio on a daily basis.
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