The most wonderful time of the year has arrived — college hoops season. With that in mind, below are the two college basketball national title bets in my futures portfolio.
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Texas Longhorns ():
We’ve seen two Big 12 teams (Kansas, Baylor) represent the national champion in consecutive seasons. The Jayhawks’ odds were on life support before Bill Self’s crew found a way to ramp up their transition offense in the second half.
I’m expecting a third one to arise in the 2022-23 campaign amid Chris Beard’s second season with the program. If you recall, we nearly cashed our futures bet with Beard’s 2018-19 Texas Tech squad. This unit showcases some similarities, but the biggest difference is its explosive backcourt.
Longhorns’ Blossoming Guard Play
After losing a pair of replaceable guards in Courtney Ramey and Andrew Jones, Beard shifted his attention to the transfer portal.
He came up big with Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter, who ranked in the 99th percentile in steal rate and the 98th percentile in passing efficiency, respectively, during his freshman campaign (via ShotQuality). Moreover, Hunter stems from T.J. Otzelberger’s no-middle defense, which Beard also runs. His transition to the Longhorns should be a layup.
The addition of a pure point guard allows Marcus Carr to focus on his scoring prowess. Shockingly, the ex-Minnesota guard delivered the second-lowest Points Per Possession (0.84) from any of Texas’ core rotation pieces last season. However, his 1.174 PPP on guarded jumpers reveals that his game didn’t sink entirely.
Don’t forget about five-star freshman Arterio Morris, either. Assuming Morris remains eligible after he was arrested for assault in June, it’s just another combo guard at Beard’s disposal.
What Are Texas’ Defensive Prospects?
Carr is a slight liability at the other end because of his gambling tendencies, yet Texas’ elite defense makes up for it. Texas surrendered the fourth-fewest ShotQuality half-court PPP in Beard’s first go-around. It’s likely to improve on that standing, thanks to their familiarity with his scheme.
When Beard’s defensive structure has thrived the most, he’s boasted a pair of rim protectors. The aforementioned Red Raiders frontcourt possessed Tariq Owns and Norense Odiase, who both tallied a top-100 block rate.
Couple that notion with a healthy Dylan Disu, who was in the midst of fully recovering from knee surgery during after transferring from Vanderbilt. He and fellow big Christian Bishop aren’t as lengthy as the former Texas Tech duo, but a sound no-middle defense hinges upon shot alteration around the rim. They’ll provide just that.
The Longhorns also added five-star forward Dillon Mitchell, who gifts Beard another defender who can switch onto any position. Factor in Timmy Allen’s quick-twitch ability to cut off passing lanes, and Texas may finish with the top defense among possible college basketball national title bets.
Longhorns’ Biggest Weakness
Just like the most recent campaign, in which Texas’ perimeter offense ranked No. 215 nationally (33.0%), unreliable 3-point shooting could surface once again.
Nevertheless, Beard reeled in New Mexico State transfer Sir’Jabari Rice, who spaces the floor at an ultra-efficient rate. He topped that off with 1.118 PPP on catch-and-shoot looks in 2021-22 — good for the 72nd percentile (via Synergy).
There’s potential for Hunter — a likely 2023 NBA Draft pick — to evolve offensively, too. Keep in mind, North Carolina guard Caleb Love saw his 3-point clip improve by 9.6 percent in his sophomore stint. Granted, Hunter is known for his defensive tenacity, yet his shooting upside isn’t forever lost.
National Title Odds Conclusion
Texas is certainly live to win the Big 12 (), yet it’s surrounded by a few other hopefuls in Baylor, Kansas, and TCU. But this obstacle doesn’t mean that the Longhorns lack the upside of a top-two seed in March Madness odds.
Their high ceiling is a prerequisite for college basketball national title bets of +3500 (2.8% implied probability) or lower. That was the price tag I grabbed in July, yet I’d still bet it down to +2500.
Related: 2022-23 College Basketball Power Rankings
Florida Gators ():
Let me preface that I placed the first of my college basketball national title bets the night that Scottie Scheffler won the 2022 Masters. At that point, the Gators were +12000 to win the title and were on the verge of reintroducing center Colin Castleton under their new coaching staff.
Therefore, it was contingent upon tacking on fresh-faced talent in the portal. Todd Golden & Co. netted Kyle Lofton (St. Bonaventure), Alex Fudge (LSU), Will Richard (Belmont), and Trey Bonham (VMI). Lofton is the most the coveted of the bunch, as his steal rate and passing efficiency in 2021-22 ranked even higher than the aforementioned Hunter.
Florida’s length should be imposing defensively, which is a critical factor towards making a run in March. But it’s still lacking another shot blocker to go alongside Castleton, whiffing on Osun Osunniyi (Iowa State), Johni Broome (Auburn), and Efe Abogidi (NBA G League).
The Gators are due positive regression from a coaching perspective, moving on from the brain-dead Mike White to the analytically-sound Todd Golden, yet they may need time to develop cohesion. They’re as low as +6000 in the market as well, and that’s a bit rich.
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Virginia Cavaliers ()
You probably notice that these odds are much shorter than the previous two college basketball national title bets. That’s because it’s a regular season conference title wager and the first show bet on “Outside Shots,” our brand-new college basketball betting podcast. Subscribe and listen for the full breakdown.
National Title Odds Board
You’ll find potential college basketball national title bets below, along with the ability to price shop at various legal sportsbooks.