NCAA Basketball Championship Futures Betting Odds and Expert Picks
We always look at the brackets when it comes to the NCAA Tournament, so we are focused on which teams are going to reach the Final Four or beyond. But too often we ignore another way to leverage the opinions we have when filling out our brackets - futures odds. We have been paying attention to those futures odds all year, checking in for teams that are attractive, so why stop now? We can bet on which teams will win their region or which teams will win it all. And there can be value in both if they fit your opinion of how things are going to turn out in the tournament. Here are five futures from BetOnline that have some interest as I see it:
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Villanova (+600 to win NCAA Tournament): Villanova is the best team in the tournament in my eyes. They are deep and very talented, with two top-level players and a very solid supporting cast. They are full of tournament experience - they won it two years back. Nova has the best path to the Final Four of any of the top seeds - Purdue is a big challenge, but that's not until the Elite Eight. This team has the coaching and the experience to go deep, and they should have learned a lot from being caught off guard by Wisconsin last year. This price is, at the very least, fair.
Gonzaga (+2500 to win NCAA Tournament): The Bulldogs went all the way to the Championship Game last year. They aren't quite as talented as last year - Zach Collins is looking great in the NBA right now when he was such a key last year. But they are still plenty good, and they have a decent path - UNC or Michigan would be tough, but Xavier is the easiest of the top seeds to deal with. This team is experienced and very good, and the price is fair here. This team has Mark Few on the bench, and that is a big asset here - he finally has this tournament thing figured out after some disappointment and underachievement over the years. I don't think that they are a particularly likely winner, but they are likely enough to justify this price.
Cincinnati (+300 to win South Region): Cincinnati is a very talented No. 2 that has as smooth a path to the Elite Eight as any No. 2 could have this year - there isn't a team that will intimidate them if they are in form. And while a showdown with tournament favorite Virginia could await them there, Cincinnati plays a style not unlike the Cavaliers, so they will know what to expect. Given that they could get to the Elite Eight relatively easily, it comes down to only one big upset. That means that this price is fair.
Arizona (+500 to win South Region): Why stop at one potential bet in the South when we can have two? The Wildcats have a tough path - they have to beat Kentucky first, and then Virginia, and after that they would have to deal with Cincinnati. It's tough, but Deandre Ayton is the best player in this tournament, the team is playing very well right now, and it feels like they have upside as well. I'd like it better if the path was a little easier, and if they didn't have that whole FBI distraction hanging over them like a dark cloud, but there is a lot to like here, and the price is reasonable.
Michigan (+500 to win West Region): This is the most attractive price of any here. The Wolverines are absolutely red hot right now, having win the Big Ten Tournament for the second year in a row. This team was a mess early on, and likely third-round opponent North Carolina rolled over them back then, but they are a much different and much better team now. They have a manageable path to the second weekend. They get a rematch with the Tar Heels next. North Carolina is very good, but the Wolverines will have a week to get ready, solid matchups this time around, and revenge on their mind. And then they likely either face Xavier or Gonzaga. The Musketeers are a good matchup for Michigan, and Gonzaga would be a good test. Besides, since we like both Michigan and Gonzaga here, we would be covered either way in that matchup.
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