Reading the National Championship Odds on the Eve of the Conference Tournaments
Typically, when the end of the regular season draws near, there are a handful of college basketball teams that have distinguished themselves. If fans were to put their money on one of those teams to win it all, no one would fault them for it.
However, it is kind of hard to say anyone has separated from the pack this season. Yes, there are several really good teams like Kansas, Gonzaga, Dayton, Baylor, and San Diego State. But the top-ranked teams have been getting upset way too often this year.
Eight teams have been ranked No. 1 at some point during the season this year. Ranked teams seem to be dropping like flies this season to unranked ones. Last weekend was a perfect example of how the season has been going. Four top-ten teams lost, three to unranked opponents.
It has been that kind of craziness all season. So, how can you trust anyone?
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NCAAB Championship Odds: Good Luck
The natural thing for many fans will be to look to the top-25 before placing their bets. For the last couple of weeks, Kansas has been No.1 in the polls and has the shortest odds at +700 (via DraftKings). They were the unanimous No. 1 in the latest AP poll but also saw senior center Udoka Azubuike go down with an ankle injury over the weekend.
Kansas is 26-3, will likely win the Big 12 again, and their three losses all came against ranked opponents, the last being against Baylor on January 11. They would appear to be a safe pick—but the No. 1 ranked team when the Tournament starts rarely wins the national title.
Since the seeding process began, only eight have gone on to win it all.
It would be hard to fault anyone for betting on a three-loss Baylor (NCAAB Title Odds: +900) team. The former No. 1 Bears won 23 in a row before losing just their second game of the season recently, a close one to Kansas. But then it has to be concerning that they lost over the weekend to a lackluster TCU squad.
Have they peaked? Are they primed for an early upset?
Maybe it will finally be Gonzaga’s year (with the same +900 NCAAB Title Odds). They’ve lost their conference just once since 2001, made it to the Sweet Sixteen the last five years, and Elite Eight in three of those. It’s only been a couple of years since they made it to the Final Four and lost in the national title game (2017).
Could this year be the year for them?
Is the Devil in the Details for the NCAAB Title Odds Discussion?
What about Duke (+1200)? They are always pretty good. Yeah, but they couldn’t win it last season with dominant players like Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett leading the way. This year’s guys are good, but they don’t have anyone that comes close to Williamson or Barrett.
With five of their six losses coming to unranked teams, including three of their last five games, they are more likely to be an upset candidate than a title contender.
How about some of the other blue bloods like Kentucky (+2000) or Indiana (+8000)? Indiana may not even make the Tournament. While Kentucky has worked its way back to No. 6 in the nation, it is kind of hard to trust a team that lost to Evansville (who lost every conference game this season).
Of course, if you try hard enough, it is not difficult to find something negative about every top-ranked team. The No. 3 Dayton Flyers (+1500) may be 27-2 but lost to the only ranked team they have faced (Kansas). No. Louisville (24-6) looks like a good choice (+1600), but they have dropped three of their last six. Are they running out of gas?
No. 5 San Diego State has dominated the competition this year (28-1), but they recently suffered their first loss at the hands of a mediocre UNLV team. Of their 28 wins, none have come against ranked opponents.
Lots of fans are excited about Maryland (+1600), Auburn (+2000), and Florida State (+2000). But issues can be found with them just as easily. So, maybe this is a good year to go with a longshot? At least one team seeded five or higher has made the final four the last seven years. Only one, 7-seeded UConn, went on to win the title (2014)—but that means it can happen.
Figuring out who you want to bet your hard-earned money on to win it all is not going to be easy this year. But if it were easy, the odds would be a lot shorter, and you wouldn’t win as much in the end.
Wouldn’t we all rather have more money?