2013 NCAA Tournament Handicapping: Best Value Bets
by Trevor Whenham - 3/18/2013
Betting NCAA Tournament futures requires a very different mindset than filling out a bracket does. With a bracket you are interested in picking the teams you think are mostly likely to win. In futures you aren’t necessarily concerned about that. Instead, you are focused on teams that have a better chance of winning than the odds suggest. If a team is at 200/1, but they have about a 1-in-100 chance of winning in your eyes, then they would be a much more attractive bet over the long run than a team that has a 1-in-10 chance of winning but is paying 5/1.
In other words, betting futures takes the discipline to realize that a bet isn’t always a good one just because it is a winning one and that sometimes the best bet is one you don’t make. With that in mind, here’s a look at five teams that offer solid value in NCAA Tournament futures betting (odds are from Bovada):
Louisville (5/1) - This team doesn’t qualify in the sense that there isn’t overwhelming value here. I put them here, though, because I think the price is surprisingly fair. In my eyes they are clearly the class of the tournament. Their run through their regional is tough, but they can manage it. The Final Four actually sets up pretty well for them in most scenarios. Normally I would automatically avoid betting on any team that is favored in this event. This year, though, I would have no problem with the idea of betting on them.
Georgetown (20/1) - There is several teams on this list from the South Regional because it is so wide-open. There are at least four teams in the group with the potential to win it all. Georgetown is in a sweet spot because if they play their game then they are fully capable of running to the Elite Eight without too much trouble. Their defensive play is very good, and Otto Porter is a special player built to shine in this tournament. This price is more than fair.
Michigan (25/1) - I’m not crazy about the Jayhawks, so both of their likely Sweet 16 opponents will be featured here. Michigan has played lousy basketball recently, and that’s why they have fallen to a No. 4 seed with this kind of price. They aren’t that far away from their best play, though, and when they are at their best there isn’t a team in this tournament that can outscore them. They have four or five future NBAers on the roster, and Trey Burke is the best player in the country. Rough play aside, that all represents value at 25/1.
VCU (50/1) - The potential Round of 32 matchup between VCU and Michigan is a captivating one. No team is better at avoiding turnovers than Michigan. No team forces turnovers better than VCU. That’s strength against strength, and something has to give. Whichever team can assert themselves here will win. On top of that showdown, the two teams can both shoot like crazy, so it will be a very fun game. I actually think that that is a tougher test for VCU than Kansas will be, so they have real Final Four potential. On top of all that, we have seen how dangerous Shaka Smart is as a tournament coach, and this is the best team he has had.
Wichita State (300/1) - The 8/9 pairing is a good spot to look for value. It’s tough for the winner of that game to beat a No. 1 seed, but if they do they have probably already won their toughest game. There are two teams from that line of the tournament that stand out. First is Wichita State. The Shockers are used to shocking fans of the tournament, and this is a very good version of the team. They play very good defense, and their size will create issues for opponents. The West Regional is wide open, so if Gonzaga proves to not be up to the challenge of the top seed then Wichita State could be poised to mop up the mess.
North Carolina State (66/1) - I wish the odds here were closer to 100/1, but this price is still more than fair. The Wolfpack has mostly been a disappointment — or at least a frustration — this year. They made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed last year, though, and they have that experience to build on. They have two guys who will be in the NBA in the near future, and they can make matching up a constant struggle. Indiana is vulnerable because we have seen them lose too many times recently. That is the toughest test this team will face. It was 30 years ago that the Wolfpack shocked the world to win their last title. Maybe they are due again.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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