NCAA Basketball National Championship Futures Odds: Sucker Bets
by Robert Ferringo - 10/20/2014
There are two ways to peg the most overrated teams in college basketball at the beginning of the season. The first is the preseason Top 25, which is usually based more on rewarding flagship programs and glad-handing big-name coaches than it is an attempt to actually project the best 25 teams in the country.
The second tool for spotting overrated college basketball teams is the preseason National Championship odds. Last year I used this space to warn off readers from several teams that would be money burners throughout the regular season and massive disappointments through the postseason.
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Indiana didn't even make the NCAA Tournament last year. Pittsburgh, Kansas, N.C. State and Colorado each failed to make it out of the opening weekend. Kentucky did make it to the championship game. But that was only after a miracle tournament run, marked by multiple buzzer beaters, which overshadowed an uninspiring regular season and an embarrassing No. 8 seed.
Below is a look at the college basketball teams that are the worst bets to win the National Championship in the 2014-15 season. The AP Top 25 is still a couple weeks away from release. So right now this is the only barometer for distinguishing potentially disappointing teams this season.
The teams I've listed below likely won't underachieve at the same level as last year's sucker bets, particularly in the regular season. But there is no doubt in my mind that this year's group is still the kindling for a money bonfire heading into the year.
Here are the worst bets to win the 2015 college basketball National Championship: with odds accrued from several online sportsbooks, including 5Dimes.
Arizona (+850) - Right now the Wildcats have the No. 2 odds in the country, behind Kentucky, to win the national title. There is no way that this is the second-most-likely team to take the title. They are an excellent team and the clear-cut favorite to win the Pac-12. Arizona will likely be a staple of the Top 10 throughout the year and welcome back three starters from last season's No. 1 seeded Elite Eight squad. But the two guys they lost, Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon, were the two best players on the team. This year's Wildcats team lacks a proven go-to guy on the perimeter, the role Johnson held last season, and they don't shoot well enough from 3-point range as a team to win six straight in March.
Duke (+1050) - The Blue Devils are never a good wager when it comes to futures odds. They are one of the most public teams in all of sports, and the books always shade their odds. Currently Duke has the fourth-best odds to win the national title. But they also lost their two best players, and this year's squad will revolve around four highly-touted incoming freshmen. The young players may be great. But they are still freshmen. Duke has suffered humiliating upsets in two of the last three years, falling to Mercer last March and Lehigh in 2012. They need to get past that mental block before we can start talking titles again.
North Carolina (+1500) - Here we have another Tobacco Road powerhouse that is being overvalued by the books. They won it all in 2005 and 2009 but have failed to make it out of the opening weekend each of the past two years. Carolina has one of the best point guards in the country in Marcus Paige. But he doesn't have enough around him to navigate all the trappings of March Madness. Carolina's main weakness is the lack of a reliable interior game. They only have two guys taller than 6-9, and they combined to average just 2.3 points per game last year. This is Roy Williams' best squad since the 2011 version. But I still think more accurate odds would be somewhere around +2800 for this group.
Florida (+2000) - These odds are absolutely ridiculous. The Gators lost in the Final Four last year and then lost their four best players to graduation. They were one of the oldest and most experienced teams in the nation last season and went 36-3 during the regular season. And that team still couldn't win it all. There is no way that this year's rebuilt version is going to surpass last year's accomplishments. Billy Donovan has gotten Florida to seven Elite Eights, four Final Fours, and three national title games over the last 14 years. I don't like to doubt him. But this group has more questions than answers, and these odds are half of what they should be.
Michigan (+4000) - These odds aren't great. But they are still No. 13 on the board to cut down the nets. However, I think that Michigan is going to spend a stretch outside of the Top 25 this year, and they are one of the bigger question marks in the Big Ten. Their top two players, go-to guy Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson, are gone. As are three key frontcourt players. Eleven of the 14 players on the Wolverines roster are either freshmen or sophomores. They are one of the least experienced groups in the nation. John Beilein has a brilliant system in place. But he still needs talent to operate it. And there's not enough here to secure any banners.
Robert Ferringo is a member of the Basketball Writer's Association of America and a professional sports handicapper for Doc's Sports. He is considered one of the best college basketball handicappers in the country and has earned five straight winning college basketball years. His $100-per-Unit clients nearly $49,000 in the last seven seasons with his nonconference picks and he is looking forward to his biggest season ever. You can sign up for his college basketball picks and get more information here.
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