The 2020-21 NCAA college basketball kicks off on November 25, and while the season is expected to be wildly different given the COVID-19 pandemic, wagering on college basketball futures continues to be the smartest way to win big on the college hardwood.
Another reason College basketball futures are such a worthy investment is state-by-state regulations limiting the types of legal bets that can be placed on collegiate activity. In Illinois, bettors cannot wager on athletic competitions including at least one in-state team. New Jersey follows the same protocol but also restricts any sort of player prop.
Longtime national college basketball writer Rob Dauster is here to provide his thoughts on the college basketball futures bets worth your wager.
TENNESSEE (+265) SEC, (+3500 NCAA)
For my money, Tennessee is the most undervalued team in the market right now. I think they’re the best team in the SEC — yes, better than Kentucky, who is currently sitting at (+170) to win the SEC and (+1100) to win the national title.
The Vols are absolutely loaded with NBA talent. Freshmen Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson both have lottery pick potential while sophomores Santiago Vescovi and Josiah Jordan-James are in line for breakout seasons. John Fulkerson was the best big man in the conference for the final month of last season. They’re loaded.
And then there’s Yves Pons. The best defender in college hoops, Air Pons is the piece that brings it all together. He allows them to play big and play small. He is the matchup differentiator. This is a top ten team in the country. They’re not priced anywhere near that. This is a team that should be, at minimum, a 1b. to Kentucky’s 1a. in the SEC. They’re not priced near that, either.
NCAA Tournament Futures: Villanova (+700), Iowa/Gonzaga/Baylor (+800), Kentucky/Virginia (+900), Kansas (+1100), Wisconsin (+1200), Duke/Illinois (+1300), Florida State/Michigan State (+1500), West Virginia (+2000), Creighton/North Carolina (+2500), Oregon/Louisville/San Diego State/Florida/Ohio State/Texas Tech (+3000), UCLA (+3300), Arizona State/Tennessee/Richmond (+3500), Houston/Indiana/LSU/Michigan/UConn (+4000)
OREGON (+430) PAC-12
There should never be a world where you can get Oregon as 4.3:1 to win the PAC-12 at a better price than Arizona State. We can talk about the Sun Devils later (faaaaaaaaade) but for now, understand that the Ducks may be losing Payton Pritchard but still have more than enough talent to win the league.
Will Richardson and Chris Duarte should both be first-team all-league guys and transfer Eugene Omoruyi and Eric Williams play the versatile forward role that Dana Altman has so much success with. This is not the third-best team in the conference. That’s where they’re priced.
PAC-12 Futures: UCLA (+260), Arizona State (+265), Oregon (+430), Stanford (+600), Arizona (+700), USC (+1000), Colorado (+1500), Washington (+3000), Utah *+3000), Oregon State (+8000), California (+10000), Washington State (+30000)
ILLINOIS (+350) BIG TEN
Illinois is honestly not priced all that far off from where I think they should be, but they are rated behind Iowa, which is baffling to me. I don’t get the hype for Iowa, who is clearly the favorite based on the future odds and who sits seconds nationally at +800 to win the title.
Illinois is better.
Ayo Dosunmu is a first-team All-American. Kofi Cockburn is back. The Illini have a really good freshman class coming in. And most importantly, they’ve gone away from the pressing, overplaying style that Brad Underwood is known for and now focus more on a packline-esque defense. That’s something you should buy into.
Big Ten Futures: Iowa (+265), Wisconsin (+350), Illinois (+350), Michigan State (+360), Ohio State (+1000), Michigan (+1100), Indiana (+2000), Rutgers (+3000), Purdue (+3000), Maryland (+5000), Minnesota (+30000), Penn State (+30000), Northwestern (+50000), Nebraska (+50000)
KANSAS (+1100), DUKE (+1300) and KENTUCKY (+1100)
I wanted to talk about this trio as a group because what’s interesting is where they’re rated in comparison to each other.
Let’s start with Kentucky. At 11:1, I think their price has reached a point where there’s not value on them. Getting Olivier Sarr eligible was enormous given the wing talent on their roster. They are going to win a lot of game. But they also have an entirely new roster that has to learn how to play together during COVID practices and without as many buy games as we’re used to seeing. Throw in that their PGs are a five-star they reclassified and a grad transfer that couldn’t start at Creighton, and I’m concerned. I think Kentucky could have a slow start to the season. If they do, buy them when the price drops.
SEC Futures: Kentucky (+170), Tennessee (+265), LSU (+400), Florida (+700), Arkansas (+1200), South Carolina (+1500), Alabama (+2000), Missouri (+2000), Auburn (+4000), Ole Miss (+5000) Texas A&M (+10000), Georgia (+15000), Mississippi Stte (+20000), Vanderbilt (+30000)
With Kansas, I do believe they’re a little overvalued as well. So much of what made Kansas great last year was their defense, which was anchored by Udoka Azubuike, and the threat of Devon Dotson to break down a defense with his speed. All of that is gone. In their place is David McCormick and … well, no true PG. that’s worrisome.
Big 12 Futures: Baylor (+165), Kansas (+170), West Virginia (+525), Texas Tech (+600), Texas (+650), Oklahoma (+2000), Iowa State (+8000), TCU (+10000), Kansas State (+30000)
Which leads me to Duke, who is the cheapest of the three and also has the fewest questions marks. Wendell Moore and Matthew Hurt are both back. They added a grad transfer from Columbia to bolster a young front line. Their guards are five-stars that won’t have too much on their plate given the addition of point-forward Jalen Johnson. To me, Duke should be, at a minimum, the same price as Kansas and Kentucky. There’s value on them 13:1.
ACC Futures: Virginia (+215), Duke (+225), Florida State (+300), North Carolina (+650), Louisville (+1200), Miami (+2000), Georgia Tech (+3000), Notre Dame (+4000), Syracuse (+5000), NC State (+8000), Virginia Tech (+10000), Pittsburgh (+10000), Clemson (+20000), Boston College (+30000), Wake Forest (+50000)
If you want to take a flier, Houston is my favorite outside of Tennessee. Kelvin Sampson is a fantastic head coach, and he will have a ton of young, talented guards at his disposal. The loss of Nate Hinton only opens up more minutes for Caleb Mills and Dejon Jarreau.
AAC Futures: Houston (+125), SMU (+375), Memphis (+400), Cincinnati (+900), Wichita State (+1100), South Florida (+1500), Tulsa (+1500), UCF (+3000), East Carolina (+4000), Temple (+5000), Tulane (+10000)