College Basketball Bets: Overvalued Teams Ahead Of March Madness

Written By Eli Hershkovich on February 17, 2023
College Basketball Bets

As bettors begin to assemble — or continue to expand — their March Madness futures portfolio, identifying possible pretenders is a critical step. Here are three teams to avoid or fade for your college basketball bets.

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Purdue Boilermakers ():

As you’ll find in my college basketball power rankings, Purdue hasn’t exactly been up to snuff with its previous No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25. ShotQuality tends to agree, as the Boilermakers have outperformed their record by four wins. This notion revolves around the quality of looks taken by both teams in a given game.

That isn’t say Zach Edey, the odds on favorite to win the Wooden Award (), won’t remain dominant on the biggest stage. Matt Painter’s motion structure is tremendous at presenting the 7-foot-4 Edey with mismatches against less physical forwards or even guards.

But Purdue’s freshmen-driven backcourt, comprised of Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer, has scuffled versus the press and half-court ball pressure throughout Big Ten play.

Not only is Smith tallying a 21.3% turnover rate, but the Boilermakers are also manufacturing the highest in-conference turnover percentage. They’re heavily reliant on 3-point shooting outside of Edey, too. One cold night from behind the arc — coupled with a bevy of miscues — and Painter’s team could be sent home before the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Their defensive setup is problematic against five-out offenses as well. That’s because they run drop coverage with Edey, meaning he isn’t guarding nor switching out to the 3-point line versus floor-spacing bigs. It’s a concerning for your college basketball bets.

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Kansas Jayhawks ():

Yes, the Jayhawks are the defending national champs — led by a Hall of Fame coach in Bill Self. However, that doesn’t mean this roster isn’t vulnerable.

For starters, you’re naturally paying a tax because of its brand and previous success. Kansas isn’t constructed as such, lacking a true low-post presence — à la David McCormack, Udoka Azubuike, or the infamous Perry Ellis. The 6-foot-7 K.J. Adams finishes off pick-and-roll lobs on occasion, yet their offense can stiffen up a bit when fellow Wooden Award candidate Jalen Wilson () & Co. aren’t flourishing in transition.

Moreover, the Jayhawks’ 14th-rated adjusted defensive efficiency is a bit deceiving. This metric signifies the amount of points a team would allow per 100 possessions versus the average D-I opponent. Although Kansas showcases plenty of athleticism across the floor, its transition defense is fairly exploitable.

Dajaun Harris, Jr.’s pickpocket takeaways lend some assistance in that department, but we saw Iowa State’s own fast-break attack take advantage of this flaw most recently.

I wouldn’t wager on another “Rock Chalk” run for your college basketball bets. Mind you, Kansas’ path to winning the 2022 NCAA Tournament included a quartet of underwhelming opponents (Texas Southern, Creighton, Providence, and Miami), plus banged-up Villanova and UNC teams.

Xavier Musketeers ():

Sean Miller has certainly made his mark in his return to Cincinnati. The Musketeers boast the eighth-rated adjusted offensive efficiency, sparked by a high-speed tempo and prestigious ball movement. The latter is exhibited by their third-ranked assist rate across D-I, with UTEP transfer Souley Boum pulling the strings.

Nevertheless, Xavier’s 11-game winning streak from earlier in the season inflated its market rating too much. Unlike the Jayhawks, the Musketeers’ defensive woes are evident, ranking No. 90 in AdjD. It’s been masked by their 40.0% 3-point clip at the other end, yet ShotQuality has expected negative regression in that category for quite some time.

Creighton () and UConn (), two of the Musketeers’ Big East foes, advertise more of the profile to advance deeper in the tournament. In particular, the Bluejays own top-10 defense over the last month while the Huskies’ pressure-laden system is starting to round back into form.

Additionally, Boum and Zach Freemantle are each hampered by injuries at the moment. Boum’s ankle issue hasn’t forced him to miss any time, but he’s yet to practice since Friday. The 6-foot-9 Freemantle has been sidelined since reinjuring his left foot, which caused him to miss much of last season, against Creighton on Jan. 28.

The 7-foot Jack Nunge gives Xavier a frontcourt presence with or without Freemantle in the lineup. Still, Freemantle is very efficient in the midrange, along with his prowess at the rim.

If he or Boum are affected by their respective matters in the NCAA tournament, the Musketeers’ proficiency will take a noticeable dip.

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