College Basketball Odds: Why Auburn Is Eli’s Latest National Championship Futures Bet
Only two weeks into the campaign, the notion of a parody within college basketball futures has legs. For context, the adjusted efficiency margin (AdjEM) with the top-10 programs on KenPom was the smallest opening range and lowest standard deviation since 2011-12. This metric translates to the excess between a team’s adjusted offensive (AdjO) and defensive efficiency (AdjD).
Therefore, it’s worth inspecting some longshots, like the Auburn Tigers — set at +8000 as of this publishing. Click any odds to place a bet at the best sports betting sites. The following odds are the best available in your state.
Appraising Auburn College basketball odds
On the surface, the Tigers’ price tag is identical to their initial March Madness odds. Since bettors have received time to watch the upside of their new-look backcourt (especially versus Baylor) without their odds shrinking, there’s certainly appeal.
That’s because Auburn’s 3-point shooting, ranking No. 309 in the country, was its most glaring deficiency last season. But there’s addition by subtraction in that department. Tigers coach Bruce Pearl tacked on five-star point guard Aden Holloway and FIU transfer Denver Jones, the second-highest scorer in Conference USA, in lieu of Wendell Green and Zep Jasper. In a small sample size, they’ve combined for 1.79 PPP in spot-up situations (per Synergy).
Overall, Auburn showcases the top-45 clip from distance (38.9%). As noted, the Tigers’ proficiency will shrink in the long run, as they’re just four games in. Nevertheless, enhanced shooting gives them a significantly higher ceiling. They generate those clean looks with an upper-echelon pace and second-chance shots. In fact, the Tigers have manufactured the 53rd-highest offensive rebounding percentage, led by 6-foot-10, 240-pound Johni Broome, who transferred in from Morehead State ahead of last season.
Both variables are key contributors to a deep run in the Big Dance. The last three national champions have delivered a top-65 ranking in each category.
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Depth Flexing Its Muscle
Conversely, Auburn’s perimeter defense will also face negative regression. It’s let up the 14th-lowest efficiency from deep, equivalent to a 22.8% clip. Then again, that’s a product of the Tigers’ pressure scheme. Remember that they’ve utilized some version of a press 15.8% of the time, a top-60 rate across Division I.
Their havoc-driven style will eventually accrue more turnovers, yet their defense is already one of college basketball’s better units at that end. For one, Pearl’s team presents its fair share of continuity. That correlates with the 10th-highest percentage of bench minutes across Division I. Not only will that come in handy in March, but it’s just as critical to operate this type of defense.
Granted, Auburn originates from the SEC, college basketball’s second-best conference per my power ratings. A competitive collection of rosters may not lend itself to a relatively great seed in March. However, the Tigers are the second-rated SEC team in my college basketball power rankings. They’ll have a shot to attain at least a No. 5 seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament.
With one top-25 team left (USC) on the non-conference schedule, Auburn could enter conference play with a 12-1 record.
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