A new college basketball season is upon us, and our handicapper is focused on some of the favorites on futures odds boards as well as some of the mid-majors that could pull upsets.
According to the Nielsen numbers, this year’s World Series was the least-viewed ever. Maybe instead of watching those games, everyone was studying the college basketball futures odds because they are looking forward to the next NCAA Basketball Championship.
NCAA Basketball Championship Preview
That extra time they’re taking to get reacquainted with the sport will come in handy, especially for bettors, since it was another offseason full of twists and turns in the transfer portal along with the new class of freshmen. When the dust settled a bit, oddsmakers gave us one clear-cut favorite at the top of the list.
KU Adds 7-Footer Dickinson from Michigan
Most of the top-rated sportsbooks have just one team with odds shorter than 10/1 to cut down the nets next April in Arizona: Kansas.
Following a short stay in last year’s NCAA Tournament as a top seed, Bill Self and the Jayhawks augmented this year’s roster by claiming the top big man in the transfer portal, Hunter Dickinson, plus Elmarko Jackson, one of the top incoming freshmen.
The Jayhawks also have three of their top 5 scorers from a year ago back – Kevin McCullar Jr, KJ Adams, and Dajuan Harris. Add in Nick Timberlake, a 6th-year senior from Towson, and freshman Johnny Furphy, a 6-9 guard from Australia, and the potential is definitely there for a fifth national title.
The Big 12 was extremely strong a year ago, and it’s only going to be deeper with Houston and BYU in the mix now. We’ll get to see just how good the preseason No. 1 is when Kansas faces Kentucky in the Champions Classic on November 14, plus headlines the Maui Invitational that includes Gonzaga and Purdue later in November.
Can Purdue Bounce Back After Being Bounced by a No. 16?
Speaking of Purdue, the Boilermakers are among a group of seven teams that are the biggest threats to Kansas. After winning the Big Ten regular season crown and conference tourney last season, Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review) has Purdue priced at +1400 to win the National Championship.
That tandem of Big Ten titles this past spring helped make the Boilermakers a No. 1 seed for March Madness. Fairleigh Dickinson was not impressed, however, and became just the second No. 16 to knock off a No. 1 when the Knights popped Purdue 63-58 in Round 1.
The only other time a No. 1 lost to a No. 16 was at the 2018 NCAA Tournament, and the Virginia Cavaliers bounced back to win it all the following season, so that’s one thing that will make the Boilermakers an interesting team to watch.
Another thing that makes them interesting is having the majority of their roster back, including Naismith Award winner Zach Edey. In addition to the trip to Maui, Purdue also has neutral-site matchups with Alabama and Arizona in December.
Blue Devils Return Bulk of Scoring
Also in the second tier of the NCAAB odds behind Kansas are a trio of usual suspects: Duke, Kentucky, and Michigan State. The Blue Devils are +1100 to win it all, with the Wildcats and Spartans both +1300.
The spotlight is always on Duke, but there shouldn’t be as much harassment from the media on Jon Scheyer in his second year at Durham. Scheyer saw a couple of his prized freshmen leave for the NBA, but has his top 4 scorers back – Kyle Filipowski, Jeremy Roach, Mark Mitchell, and Tyrese Proctor – plus brought in Jared McLain, a 5-star recruit.
Just when we thought Tom Izzo was thinking of hanging his clipboard up, he went out and scored one of the top recruiting classes in the country. That group is led by 6-foot-10 forward Xavier Booker.
John Calipari is back on his game with just three players returning from last year and seven new freshmen to meld into a cohesive unit. DJ Wagner and Justin Edwards are two of the newcomers expected to play a big role, along with Tre Mitchell, a 5th-year senior who transfers to Lexington from West Virginia.
Who, Who, Who is Top Mid-Major? The Owls, That’s Who
Can we stop calling Gonzaga a mid-major? The Bulldogs might play in a conference outside the Power 6 on the college hardwood, but Mark Few and the Zags are not one of the little guys any longer.
The title of best mid-major a year ago went to Florida Atlantic, and the Owls’ run into the Final Four captured the hearts of fans and bettors. Dusty May has his top 4 scorers back, led by Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin, and the Owls are +3000 to shock college hoops with a championship.
Two more squads that should be popular college basketball picks are Saint Mary’s and San Diego State. The Aztecs fell to UConn in the National Championship, and Brian Dutcher has some holes to fill. Randy Bennett and the Gaels are +4500 and could sneak up on Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference this time.
*The line and/or odds in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.