NCAA Tournament Betting: College Basketball Futures Dissected by Senior Trader

Written By Eli Hershkovich on February 18, 2022
Chet Holmgren Odds

With Selection Sunday less than 25 days away, there’s no better time to dig deep into the NCAA tournament betting markets. WynnBET senior trader Matt Lindeman broke down the sportsbook’s national title and Final Four liability, as well as the difficulties of keeping up with one market in particular.

Click on the NCAA tournament betting odds below to place a futures bet.

You can even continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect the big games throughout the week. Stay up-to-date on the top-68 programs with my college basketball power rankings.

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NCAA Tournament Betting: Championship Liability

EH: What’s the biggest national title futures liability for WynnBET?

ML: It never happens with the favorite, and I did not expect it this year, but we get destroyed with Gonzaga. I’ve been anti-Gonzaga from day one for this particular team, especially after watching them against Duke and Alabama (in non-conference play).

I just don’t think that this team has national championship pedigree. We saw Gonzaga last year and the way they got smacked in the mouth in that in that title game (against Baylor). And I just don’t believe that this program is at a point right now that they can go win a national championship. Mentally, I think it’s too big of a hurdle after the way Baylor beat them. I don’t think they can … I’ve seen them against athletic teams, and I’m not buying it. But Gonzaga would be a really bad, near-six-figure loss for us.

I wasn’t aggressive enough in dropping them early on, but we would win some back if they (the Bulldogs) make the Final Four. A lot of people haven’t been betting favorites in that market.

Lindeman’s Futures Portfolio

EH: Which other teams stick out in that regard?

ML: Arizona (), unfortunately (since I’ve bet them elsewhere). We lose to them — even though I really like them myself — just because we’re (WynnBET) in Arizona. It didn’t matter what price we were at there because people are going to bet them (in that state). We’ve also started to take a lot of Kentucky money even though Kentucky isn’t at a great price point (). So unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to be rooting for the ‘Cats in terms of the ‘book.

EH: You’re from Kentucky and a big Wildcats fan. Are you invested?

ML: I’m heavily involved at 22-1. I got Arizona, Auburn and Purdue and Kentucky (futures), so I’m hoping I can strike gold on at least one of those four.

It just seems like a good mesh of experience and talent with the transfers (for Kentucky). As cliche as this is to say, (Oscar) Tshiebwe is an incredible kid to be around, and I love the energy he’s brought. It’s probably the most cohesive locker room I’ve seen at Kentucky in the last five years. So you couple that with how talented they are with TyTy Washington, and then they can actually shoot from three this year.

Mining for NCAA Tournament Betting Value

EH: How about teams in the middle of the market — like Texas Tech () and Illinois ()?

ML: I’ve actually protected Illinois all season because of the Kofi Cockburn suspension early on. I know they haven’t really looked like the same team this year on the road like they did down the stretch last year. But I think that they’ve got a lot of potential and people are kind of off on them now.

Texas Tech, I didn’t really buy into with the new coach (Mark Adams), but we’ve definitely taken bets on the (Red) Raiders. They were as high as 50-1, and now they’re around 20-1 right now with a five-figure liability.

EH: Many bettors aim to select their futures bets by choosing teams that could be a top-three seed or better. But is that a profitable strategy this late in the season, especially for potential frauds in Wisconsin () and Providence ()? The Badgers could be an underdog as early as the Sweet 16 and even a pick’em in the Round of 32.

ML: I want those bets. When I’m going through futures, I don’t really look past teams outside of the top 25 in my power ratings. Wisconsin isn’t even in my top 25. Providence isn’t even in my top 45.

I think those are two teams that we get buried on for sure (liability wise). I kind of just let the bets come in, and then I’ll gradually work it down. It’s going to be a disaster if one of those two teams wins at all, but I’m not really too concerned about that.

Johnny Davis to win the Wooden Award () is pretty bad (liability wise), though.

Exploring Long-Shot Futures Liability

EH: Which mid-major Final Four odds have you adjusted recently?

ML: So it’s the first time I’ve done Final Four stuff. We’d get destroyed if Colorado State goes to the Final Four (). San Francisco’s bad too (). Murray State (), oh God.

We had a 200-1 I hadn’t updated since early January. I have Final Four futures up for 358 teams. You’re kind of just thinking, “OK, I’m just going to let them bet.” I went through and I started to see some small bets trickle in, I updated it and I go, “They should be like 80-1, not 200-1.” So if Murray State goes to the Final Four, I might not be employed much longer.

EH: We know the flawed argument of there being too many sports for bookmakers to keep up with on a given night is B.S. But how difficult is it for you to monitor all of these Final Four prices on a day-to-day basis?

ML: It’s impossible, man. I don’t monitor the Final Four market that closely. It’s crazy to say, but you try so hard to price everything right. At the end of the day, it’s easiest to just let them (bettors) get it and then move it (afterwards). That’s kind of the approach I’ve taken instead of combing through night after night.

I know they’re going to find an off-price if I’m sleeping on some team. I know it’s not perfect. But when you have so much to cover, with both the NBA and NFL playoffs both going on last month too, it’s just really hard to put too much emphasis on the Final Four market when you don’t have a ton of time to think about it.

I’ve gone through it I think three or four times this season and update based on my numbers. Other than that, I just kind of let them (bettors) bet it.

Eli Hershkovich Avatar
Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

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