College Basketball Futures Odds
by Alan Matthews - 4/7/2011
We’re barely 10 days past the end of the 2010-11 college basketball season, where a Connecticut squad that was unranked in the preseason took home the title and paid off nicely for bettors that took a flier on the long-shot Huskies way back when.
Books are starting to release college basketball futures odds for next season: the 2012 Final Four is at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Now, I recommend holding off on placing your bets quite yet. And here’s why: no other collegiate sport is obviously as affected by early entrants to the draft considering that college basketball players only have to stay one year compared to three with college football players (well, two playing years if they redshirt).
College underclassmen (and international players who don't turn 22 this year) have until April 24 to declare themselves eligible for the NBA Draft. However, under new NCAA rules, underclassmen who want to retain their college eligibility have until May 8 to withdraw from the draft as long as they don’t hire an agent. In previous years, the NCAA gave its underclassmen until mid-June to decide. So at least we should know what’s what earlier this year. Last year 80 college players declared but 30 withdrew. The fact the NBA might not have a season next year with the labor ugliness could play a major role this year.
However, some top players have declared. Certainly the biggest name is Duke’s Kyrie Irving, who could be the No. 1 overall pick despite only playing 11 games for the Blue Devils as a freshman. Needless to say, Duke’s odds of winning next year would have been better with Irving. Now the Dukies might face a minor rebuilding job with Irving, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith all moving on. That said, the Blue Devils as usual welcome a haul of McDonald’s All-Americans and are near the top of the favorites list on WagerWeb at +800.
The two favorites at +500 on WagerWeb are North Carolina and Kentucky. Big men John Henson and Tyler Zeller both said they will return next season, but Heels backers are anxiously waiting on superstar freshman Harrison Barnes’ decision. Point guard Kendall Marshall is already in place, and guard Reggie Bullock will be back from injury to help the Tar Heels’ perimeter shooting. In addition, prep All-Americans James McAdoo and P.J. Hairston arrive in Chapel Hill. If Barnes decides to stay, this is clearly the team to beat.
As for Kentucky, the Wildcats showed what might be coming with this year’s Final Four run – beating those Heels along the way. UK is anxiously waiting word on whether star freshmen Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight will be back. Both should be lottery picks, with Knight’s stock definitely improving during the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats also are awaiting word on the futures of freshman Doron Lamb and junior DeAndre Liggins, but it would be a mistake if they left. Kentucky as usual welcomes a ridiculous recruiting class that features four five-star players, so the Cats will likely be fine no matter who leaves.
Ohio State is with Duke at +800 and the Buckeyes already got the good news that the nation’s top 2010-11 freshman, Jared Sullinger, will return for his sophomore season (yet another blow for Cleveland Cavaliers fans). Aaron Craft and William Buford will also be around, although the Buckeyes do lose Jon Diebler, Dallas Lauderdale and David Lighty. OSU also reloads with a great recruiting class.
Finally, the other two favorites are Kansas and Syracuse at +800. The Orange only lose big man Rick Jackson, and freshman center Fab Melo, one of the nation’s top recruits last year, should be much better as a sophomore. And Jim Boeheim adds super-recruit Rakeem Christmas. I don’t see the Jayhawks being elite next year as reportedly the Morris twins and Josh Selby are all leaning toward the NBA. Obviously, if those three are back that changes everything.
UConn, by the way, is at +1200 because most expect Kemba Walker is leaving. If you want a bit of an off-the radar team like Connecticut was this year, try Memphis at +1500. The Tigers will probably be a preseason Top-15 team so it’s not like they will surprise anyone. Their top three players were all freshmen last year. The best of that bunch, Will Barton, says he’s staying. And in comes superstar recruit Adonis Thomas.
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