College Basketball: Odds to Win 2014 National Championship
by Robert Ferringo - 5/16/2013
The college basketball offseason isn’t nearly as sexy as the down time between the major professional sports. But with players leaving early for the NBA Draft, the transfer carousel, some last-minute recruiting commitments, and off-court arrests and suspensions impacting rosters across the land, there is no shortage of storylines as the deck gets reshuffled each summer in one of the most wagered on sports in the nation.
Super-freshman Andrew Wiggins announced this week that he would head to Kansas. Two weeks, prior the early entry list for the draft was finalized, with plenty of winners and losers across the country. And the first few waves of transfers have gone through. All of this has really started to clear the picture of what we can expect to see next fall when the ball starts bouncing again.
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As such, several offshore sportsbooks released or updated their odds to win the 2014 national championship. Below is my initial look at where the value lies for anyone looking to make a wager as to who will cut down the next in Arlington next year, including some teams to jump on now, some teams to avoid, and one wager that you absolutely should be placing as soon as you finish reading this:
Louisville (+1200) – I am kind of stunned that the odds on a Cardinal repeat are nearly three times the odds of Kentucky cutting down the nets. Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng will be missed. But Louisville has six of its top eight scorers back, including explosive Russ Smith, lethal Luke Hancock, and a guy I expect to make a big jump, Chane Behanan. Mix in another stocked recruiting class, and the Cardinals will make a legit defense of their title.
Michigan State (+1500) – The Spartans just need everyone to stay healthy and to make some improvements. If that happens, then Tom Izzo should have the goods to make his seventh Final Four in the last 15 years. Gary Harris has serious potential. As does uber-athletic Branden Dawson, who is the team’s X-factor. They have plenty of size and an extra helping of tough. And if Keith Appling can get some help from backups Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine, then the backcourt could go from a weakness to a strength. These are solid odds for a team that will start next year in the Top 5.
North Carolina (+2500)–P.J. Hairston and James McAdoo wisely returned to Chapel Hill. If Reggie Bullock had stayed, then the Heels may have opened the year in the Top 5. Carolina has four of its top six scorers back plus another stellar recruiting class, and Roy Williams is showing an ability to adapt to his personnel. I like Carolina just as much as Duke heading into next year. Maybe even more since they have more proven, NBA-caliber players. But you can bet the Heels and get twice the return as you can on the Blue Devils. That’s strong value.
Syracuse (+4000) – The Orange lose their starting backcourt and best perimeter shooter. But the Orange have stud C.J. Fair, a shocking amount of interior size, a breakout candidate in Jerami Grant, and some intriguing newcomers that could have a major impact. I’m always wary of freshmen. However, if Tyler Ennis is the real deal he could pair with impact transfer Michael Gbinije to give the Orange another stellar set of guards. The Orange are a long shot. But their talent and experience is much better than what these odds give them credit for.
Oklahoma State (+5000) – Get on the Cowboys bandwagon early, because it’s going to be packed by next January. Travis Ford hasn’t been able to put it all together in Stillwater, but this is going to be the year. Marcus Smart and Le’Bryan Nash both return, and they will be electrifying. And the Cowboys will have seven of their top eight players back, so cohesion won’t be a problem. If any of their freshmen can contribute, and if their big men hold up, this team will finally supplant Kansas in the Big 12.
Field (+10000) – Do not walk, RUN, over to Sportsbook.ag and put down $50 on The Field to win it all. Why the urgency? Sportsbook doesn’t have Connecticut among the teams with odds. They forgot about the Huskies because the Huskies were banned from the postseason last year, so they weren’t posted on any of last year’s futures odds. Basically, this is a glitch in the system and we should take advantage. I am high on the Huskies anyway. They have the best backcourt in the country, two potential breakout guys in Omar Calhoun and DeAndre Daniels, some senior size, and a major chip on their shoulder. They will be a major player in the march to Arlington.
Kentucky (+500) – The Wildcats allegedly have one of the best incoming freshmen classes of all time. But we’ve heard that before. Kentucky was overhyped prior to last year, and we were supposed to believe that last year’s crop was The Greatest Thing Ever. The Wildcats were pathetic last year – wild-eyed fans will point to Nerlens Noel’s injury, but Kentucky sucked long before he went down – and they are turning over the roster once again. Yes, they will have some future NBA talents on the roster. But these guys don’t know how to play together and will have zero postseason experience to lean on. These odds are a joke, and anyone betting Kentucky right now is a fool.
Kansas (+500) – These odds are another overreaction. The Jayhawks are the landing spot for Wiggins, The Most Prized High School Recruit Since The Last Most Prized High School Recruit. The Jayhawks couldn’t cut down the nets last year with a veteran core and stud frosh Ben McLemore. This year they gain Wiggins but lose six of their top seven scorers. I don’t care if this kid is Kevin Durant and Michael Jordan rolled into one; he isn’t leading the Jayhawks to a national title this year.
Duke (+1200) – The Blue Devils will start the year with a better team than either Kentucky or Kansas, and they will be one of the best in the ACC. But they also lost their top-tier players and three leading scorers. They have a lot of physical talent. But people are overhyping Rodney Hood’s potential impact. And the Blue Devils are always overrated anyway just because they are such a public team. There’s no way that this is a championship-caliber team for Coach K.
Arizona (+1500) – Sean Miller will eventually put it together out in Arizona. But he’s still turning over the roster. They needed this year’s point guard, T.J. McConnell, last year, and now that they have him there isn’t enough firepower left to work with. Arizona will be a Top 10-Top 15 team at some point next year. But it’s kind of ridiculous that they have shorter odds than teams like Carolina, Syracuse or Oklahoma State.
Ohio State (+1800) – The Buckeyes have a great coach, an excellent system, and outstanding point guard Aaron Craft among six of their top seven scorers back. But the one guy they lost, DeShaun Thomas, was better than any other two Buckeyes and won’t be replaced. Thad Matta has had much better Ohio State teams come up short of the Final Four, and this team is not the one to get him his first title.
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