With Selection Sunday less than two months away, let’s reassess the college basketball futures pool. Below, there’s a deep-dive into the favorites atop the betting market, along with the longer odds that are worth considering. Unless stated otherwise, these numbers are national title odds.
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College Basketball Futures: The Favorites
Gonzaga Bulldogs ():
Of course, Mark Few’s program possesses capable pieces to cut down the nets in April after representing the runner-up last season. But are they overvalued? Yes. For one, Drew Timme is still struggling against more physical frontcourts. The Bulldogs’ also lack an explosive guard (like Jalen Suggs) who can take over down the stretch.
Kentucky Wildcats ():
John Calipari’s bunch represents my lone midseason college basketball futures addition, and there’s still a valuable price tag available at DraftKings Sportsbook. Guided by Wooden Award candidate Oscar Tshiewbe (), the Wildcats are an elite rebounding team, producing a consistent, uptempo pace. Following a season with little to no floor-spacing, Davidson transfer Kellan Grady and five-star freshman TyTy Washington provide just that. Its loss at Auburn might create some long-term value, especially if they meet down the road.
Arizona Wildcats ():
The Wildcats were roughly the same number as Auburn on Nov. 9, and their length alone gifts them matchup advantages in almost every game, which is critical in March. Tommy Lloyd’s attack utilizes motion principles that rarely incorporate isolation sets, but where Arizona finds itself in trouble is turnovers, as freshman point guard Kerr Kriisa — while a dynamic playmaker — has failed to minimize his mistakes against ball pressure.
Purdue Boilermakers ():
I’ll take a gut punch when necessary. The Boilermakers were one of my Final Four futures from the offseason, yet there are glaring issues. Aside from Jaden Ivey’s recent hip flexor injury, his usage is alarmingly similar to his freshman campaign. The frontcourt timeshare between Zach Edey and Trevion Williams has generated underwhelming results for Williams as well. More importantly, Purdue’s backcourt can’t guard the opposition, and its overall ball-screen defense is horrific. Its profile is eerily interchangeable with the 2020-21 Iowa Hawkeyes.
Auburn Tigers ():
Once as high as +5000 to begin the season, the Tigers are the top-rated team in my college basketball power rankings. Bruce Pearl’s flex offense is as sound as ever with potential No. 1 overall pick Jabari Smith leading the way. Don’t forget about Georgia transfer K.D. Johnson, who’s the heart and soul of this unit at both ends. If you’ve made it this far, there’s some actual optimism! Nevertheless, we’re still searching for value.
Kansas Jayhawks ():
I’m willing to give the Jayhawks a pass from an offensive standpoint, as forward Jalen Wilson appears to finally be rounding into form while Arizona State transfer Remy Martin (knee) has been banged up during conference play. Still, big man David McCormack needs to supply consistency in the paint, and its collective on-ball defense must improve as well. If not, we’ll see Bill Self’s team bow out early on in the tournament once again.
Duke Blue Devils ():
With or without five-star freshman Tevor Keels, the Blue Devils’ on-ball perimeter defense is problematic. The traditional metrics are arbitrary, as 42.0% of their opponents 3-point looks are wide-open (via ShotQuality). Mike Krzyzewski was forced to showcase a zone in the loss at Florida State on Jan. 18, and don’t be blindsided if that’s Duke’s downfall in the dance.
Baylor Bears ():
Scott Drew’s team could be the first one to repeat since Florida (2006-07), yet it’s been misjudged in the market at times despite losing vital, two-way threats — similar to Gonzaga. The experience of Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague are irreplaceable come March. Overall, the Bears’ swelling turnovers are an underlying issue, and it’s impacting their transition defense too.
UCLA Bruins ():
Although the Bruins received a bit of luck en route to the Final Four, Mick Cronin’s squad looks more like his traditional Cincinnati teams on the defensive end. NBA prospect Johnny Juzang has taken another step offensively, but the concern lies with its instability in the rebounding department while playing at such a deliberate pace.
College Basketball Futures: Remainder of the Market
Texas Tech Red Raiders ():
Mark Adams, the first-year Red Raiders coach, is the founder of the no-middle defense, which Baylor employed during its title run a season ago. He’s made it work in Lubbock, Texas, as Texas Tech exhibits a completely switchable unit — ranked No. 4 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (AdjD) across Division I. If Terrence Shannon Jr. finds his groove as a go-to scoring option again, Adams certainly possesses enough talent for this program to return to the Final Four for the second time in four years.
- AdjD accounts for a team’s defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) via college basketball prognosticator Ken Pomeroy.
Illinois Fighting Illini ():
Here’s where the real value begins to rise to the surface. Despite the loss of now-pro Ayo Dosunmu, the Illini present even more 3-point shooting than they delivered around him in his sophomore campaign. According to ShotQuality, there isn’t much regression on the way. Andre Curbelo’s sluggish development remains the biggest question mark, as Illinois needs a consistent threat alongside Trent Frazier if Kofi Cockburn is in foul trouble.
Connecticut Huskies ( to make the Final Four):
If you haven’t grabbed a UConn title future just yet, I’d consider going that route () or nabbing a Final Four ticket instead. After dealing with a COVID-19 pause and a bevy of injuries, the Huskies appear to be rebounding into form. This futures bet is my favorite one on the oddsboard, as UConn boasts a premier defense and rebounding unit. Dan Hurley’s father-driven motion offense also sets up the creativity to play through big man Adama Sanogo or its physical guards. The Huskies have a go-to facilitator in R.J. Cole, who can heat up in a hurry in a tournament setting.
Oregon Ducks ( to make the Final Four):
No matter how inconsistent Dana Altman’s crew looks in Pac-12 play, especially when it followed up wins over UCLA and USC with a blown lead against Colorado, his style is difficult to prep for in a tournament setting. The Ducks can operate a morphing press, zone and man-to-man look all in one possession, and Altman couldn’t ask for a better set of guards in Will Richardson and Jacob Young to initiate the scheme. A more valuable price could arise later on if Oregon’s up-and-down play continues, yet it looks to be primed for another March Madness run regardless.
San Francisco Dons ( to make the Final Four):
Hopefully you’re sitting pretty with our Colorado State long-shot dart. If not, the Dons’ recent losses have manufactured a bit of value as well. Todd Golden’s pressure-packed defense could translate into the surprise of March. San Fran is a lengthy group — with a pair of guards (Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz) who are both crafty shot creators. The WCC is in position to send four teams to the NCAA tournament, but wait until we get more clarity in the coming weeks.
- All of Eli’s College Basketball Bets
College Basketball Futures Portfolio:
|Purdue||+2500 (1.00 unit)|
|Kentucky||+3000 (1.00 unit)|
|UConn||+7500 (0.85 units)|
|Colorado State||+60000 (0.15 units)|