College Basketball Futures: Comparing KenPom To National Title Odds

Written By Derek Wagner on November 7, 2022
kenpom

College basketball returns Monday with a full slate of games for fans to enjoy. KenPom rankings were released in October ahead of the return of college basketball. The beauty of college basketball is that even with all the advanced metrics and rankings, it can be incredibly unpredictable.

One thing we can predict, however, is that sportsbooks will be drawing information from the KenPom website and using it to make spreads for this college basketball season. Let’s compare the KenPom, the AP preseason poll and college basketball futures.

KENPOM vs. AP Poll vs. College Basketball FUTURES

In the table below, you’ll see KenPom Rankings, futures odds to win the National Championship, and the AP top-25 Preseason Rankings. The below futures odds are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook as of Nov. 7.

TeamKenPom RankingAP Preseason RankingFutures
Kentucky14+900
Texas212+2200
Gonzaga32+900
Tennessee411+2500
Virginia518+4000
Baylor66+1500
Houston73+900
Kansas85+1300
UNC91+900
Arizona1017+2500
UCLA118+1600
Indiana1213+3500
Auburn1315+4500
Arkansas1410+1500
Duke157+1600
TCU1614+4500
Alabama1720+5000
SDSU1819+6000
Villanova1916+4000
Virginia Tech20unranked+15000
Texas Tech2125+4000
Iowa22unranked+410000
Creighton239+2500
Dayton2424+8000
Purdue25unranked+4500

One of the most notable differences in the above table lies with the Tennessee Volunteers. Rick Barnes’ squad is poised for a big season as they have nine returning players from last season. KenPom has them ranked very high as they were third in defensive efficiency last season. Sportsbooks and the AP preseason poll disagree with this however and have the Volunteers outside the top-10.

In addition to the Volunteers, another notable difference with the rankings and futures odds lies with the Tar Heels. North Carolina is outside of KenPom’s top-10 preseason rankings. They lost Brady Manek, their leading three-point shooter, to New Zealand’s top professional basketball league. Most likely to replace Manek in the starting lineup is Pete Nance, a transfer from Northwestern. This is the biggest change the team has undergone, as the rest of the starting lineup has returned.

The last major difference lies with the Texas Longhorns. KenPom has them ranked as the second-best team in the nation, while the AP preseason rankings and sportsbooks have them outside the top-10 for their rankings and futures odds respectively.

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KENPOM RANKINGS HISTORY

Ken Pomeroy created a computer-based ranking and prediction system in the early 2000s for college basketball games in his free time. It started with writing code for his own curiosity about advanced metrics within the game. Following this passion and curiosity, the KenPom website has since become the leading source for advanced metrics in college basketball, such as efficiency and tempo. So much so, that leading sportsbooks are even drawing information from his site for creating lines and for futures odds.

In addition to sportsbooks, coaches and teams have also used KenPom to self-scout their own teams and prepare for opponents.

Brad Stevens, the former Butler head coach, credited Ken Pomeroy’s website on numerous occasions during his stint as a college coach. The use of KenPom has become more widespread in the college basketball community since that time, as assistants and head coaches have started using it on a more consistent basis. They have used it to prepare their teams for opponents as well as to self-scout their own team’s largest weaknesses.

It’s been said that some coaches will even attempt to cover spreads late in games.

KENPOM SPREADS AND SPORTSBOOK SPREADS

In addition to sportsbooks reviewing his metrics for futures odds, sportsbook have used his ratings and game predictions to make opening spreads of their own.

Take a look at Florida for example. The Gators open the season at home against Stony Brook Monday evening. The KenPom prediction for this game has the Gators winning by a score of 84-61. Coincidently, the best available spread for this one is Florida .

Although some consider this to be a coincidence, bettors across the gambling community do not. In fact, it has been assumed for a few years that sportsbooks are using KenPom to create opening lines of their own. Whether it is KenPom’s score predictions or the advanced metrics like offensive and defensive efficiency, the sportsbooks seem to be drawing information from the website for opening lines. They adjust when players suffer injuries and are ruled out, but it would seem that the KenPom site is used for openers to create a baseline for point spreads.

CONCLUSION

Although KenPom’s numbers and advanced metrics are useful to the gambling community, the score predictions cannot be relied on to create a valuable bet. Specifically, his numbers do not account for injuries. If a player like Drew Timme were to miss a game for Gonzaga, the spread on their game would undoubtedly change. KenPom’s numbers do not adjust for injuries, however.

Be sure to follow TheLines college basketball writer Eli Hershkovich on Twitter during the college basketball season. Additionally, check out Eli’s own college basketball power rankings.

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