College Basketball Catch-Up: 5 Things To Know After NFL Season
After the Chiefs’ narrow win over the 49ers in Super Bowl 58, many have begun zeroing in on college basketball betting, with only 2025 Super Bowl odds left on the NFL board. With March Madness odds tipping off in just over a month, let’s break down what you may have missed.
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1. Purdue favored to cut down nets
Those who’ve followed my work know how much it pains me to utter (or type) a positive notion toward the Boilermakers. However, it’s a fact that Matt Painter’s group is the consensus favorite to win the national title. The defending champion Huskies are tied for the shortest odds at some operators.
Purdue center Zach Edey is set to win another Wooden Award, yet the biggest difference from last year’s team revolves around Southern Illinois transfer Lance Jones. Not only is he a bonafide perimeter threat, but he’s also one of the most underrated defenders in the country.
In the Boilermakers win over Wisconsin on Feb. 4, Jones limited go-to scorer AJ Storr to a 4-of-15 (26.7%) shooting performance. That said, the Badgers only fell by two possessions, laying out the blueprint to knocking off Purdue. They harassed Edey all game and pressed its ball handlers to no end. Yet, they failed to make open jumpers, going 3-of-19 (15.8%) from behind the arc.
The comparisons to 2018-19 Virginia are cute, yet the Boilermakers aren’t a lock to dispel the fear (or in my case, joy) of another early exit from March Madness.
2. will UConn win repeat?
Speaking of the Huskies, they would represent the first program since the 2006-07 Florida Gators to win consecutive titles. The 1991-92 Duke Blue Devils are the only other team in the sport’s history to accomplish that feat. A healthy Donovan Clingan has recharged UConn’s interior defense. Meanwhile, the continued development of five-star freshman Stephon Castle provides the Huskies with a much higher offensive ceiling.
For one, Castle’s efficiency on jumpers has increased by 11.6 percentage points since Jan. 14. He was already a menacing defender, but his improvement at the other end takes the pressure off the backcourt tandem of Tristen Newton and Cam Spencer.
- Related: Updated College Basketball Power Rankings
3. Gonzaga may break prolific streak
The Bulldogs and the NCAA tournament have been almost inseparable. In fact, the last time Gonzaga failed to punch a ticket into the Big Dance was in 1998. Here are some of the nuggets from that timeframe:
- Bill Clinton was president.
- Tua Tagovalioa, Jayson Tatum, and Justin Herbert were born in March 1998.
- The tournament MVP was Jeff Sheppard, who is current Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard’s dad.
- That year’s tournament players included Andre Miller, Vince Carter, Antwan Jamison, Mark Madsen, Richard Hamilton, Mateen Cleaves, Paul Pierce, and Mike Bibby.
In other words, it’s been a while. Without Drew Timme, who was the center of Mark Few’s offense for what felt like a decade, the Bulldogs’ efficiency has taken a step back. Even accounting for Saturday’s victory at Kentucky, it’s unlikely they’ll receive an invite — unless they win the WCC tournament.
4. Kentucky’s biggest deficiency
Under John Calipari, the Wildcats have never tallied a top-85 perimeter scoring rate. That is, until this season. With the aforementioned Sheppard, Antonio Reeves, and Rob Dillingham leading the way, Kentucky’s offense revolves around its floor spacing. Regarding college basketball betting, overs have come through in 12 of the Wildcats’ last 14 games.
Kentucky hasn’t found a way to stop its opponents, though. The ‘Cats rank No. 120 in defensive efficiency (per Haslametrics), struggling with its ball-screen coverage and lackadaisical effort around the arc. Although the 7-foot Ugonna Onyenso has provided much-needed rim protection of late, they’ll endure an early exit in the NCAA tournament (once again) if the defense doesn’t come along.
As of this publishing, Alabama is the favorite to win the SEC at — followed by Tennessee () and Auburn ().
5. are Sycamores this year’s Cinderella?
Some of the college basketball betting community may even be unaware of how successful Larry Bird’s alma mater has been thus far.
If Indiana State wins out in the regular season, it could find itself in the Big Dance via an at-large bid. Sycamores coach Josh Schertz runs one of the most tantalizing offenses in the country, resulting in the top-ranked effective field goal percentage (eFG%). Who’s at the “center” of it all? None other than the 6-foot-10 Robbie Avila, a three-level scoring threat (with goggles).
With that in mind, the betting market is well aware of Indiana State’s prosperity. Hence, there could be value elsewhere in Missouri Valley Conference tournament futures — especially if Schertz’s crew has already sealed a March Madness berth. Stay tuned!
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