2015 NCAA Basketball National Championship Futures Odds and Betting Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 1/22/2015
Casual sports bettors don't pay attention to college basketball until after the Super Bowl is over. That means that right now is a great time to look for value in NCAA Tournament futures before a bunch of money pours in, shifts things around, and potentially takes away some value. That being said, this is about the oddest season I can remember in college basketball. We have one absolutely overwhelming favorite and a whole bunch of teams that are pretty good - sometimes better than that - but which can't seem to get out of their own ways at times. It makes it tough to find a spot worthy of investment in these futures. Still, let's take a look (odds to win the NCAA Tournament are from Sportsbook.ag):
Kentucky Wildcats (-130): Talk about a 1,000-pound gorilla. The Wildcats are unbeaten and are reasonably likely to stay that way. It was presumed heading into the season that these guys were unbeatable. What has been clear is that they can potentially be beaten - but probably only by themselves. They tried really hard to lose to two totally outmatched SEC opponents, but they dominated high level competition when it mattered. John Calipari has done a remarkable job of getting all these blue chip players to work together and buy into a system that gives them less playing time and less impressive stats. On the surface at least it seems sustainable. I have no problem believing that this team can win it all and wouldn't pick anyone against them, Of course, I absolutely wouldn't bet on them at this price. It's ridiculous to even consider it given how much lies between them and cutting down the nets. We have seen some very good teams - including ones from Kentucky -- stumble when we expected them to roll in the tournament. I'll look to put my money elsewhere - or maybe nowhere else. This is the epitome of an unbettable favorite.
Duke Blue Devils (+800): This is perhaps the only team in the country that comes close to the Wildcats in terms of talent. I would give Kentucky an edge but not much of one. What's a big concern here, though, is not that they lost a game, but that when they did they came right back and lost another - and neither was to a worthy opponent. They bounced back after that with a nice win at Louisville, but it's still a concern. They have games at Virginia, Syracuse and North Carolina remaining, so there are plenty of opportunities for them to hit another rough spot. Still, they are the best team not from Louisville, and it's probably not that close. Given that they would almost certainly be able to avoid Kentucky until at least the Final Four, and given that their young players should only get better with seasoning, it's pretty easy to argue that there is a lot of value - at least in relative terms - here compared to Kentucky.
Virginia Cavaliers (+900): I should respect and like this team. After earning a top seed last year they are back and seemingly on track to another high seed this year. Despite their success and the strong coaching, though, I just can't get behind what they are doing. At the very least I would wait until after the end of the month before investing in them - or the Blue Devils for that matter. When those two teams clash we will get a better sense about how the teams stack up. I'm not optimistic for the Cavs in that one. That being said, I'd much rather bet on these Cavaliers than the more-popular and well-known ones from Cleveland right now.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (+1400): In a year as wide-open - or at least wide-open for second place - as this one is, the Zags are very attractive. Mark Few is a great coach, and this could be the best team he has assembled. I love Kevin Pangos as both a player and a leader, and the roster around him is deep and talented. Their only loss was in overtime at Arizona, and I would be more than just a little bit surprised if they were to lose again. With four seniors and three redshirt juniors, this team's experience and maturity is a strong counterpoint to the young bucks the other elite teams rely upon. Gonzaga never seems to reach their full potential at tournament time, but perhaps this is when they have a breakthrough. I like the price.
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