2016-17 College Basketball Title Futures Offering Value

Yesterday afternoon the Las Vegas based Westgate Superbook became the first sportsbook to post odds to win the 2016-17 NCAA men’s basketball championship. Even though they’ll be graduating several key players including NCAA Tournament MOP Ryan Arcidiacono, defending champion Villanova opened with the third best odds of winning the title at +800.

It’s interesting to note that North Carolina, who lost the title game in heart-breaking fashion, opened the season with the best odds (+800) of winning the national championship. That would have been particularly noteworthy since no school has gone wire to wire since the Tar Heels accomplished the feat back in 2009.

The table below displays the title odds for the past eight national champions, along with the odds for the pre-season favorite. (Information courtesy of SportsOddsHistory)

Year Champion Odds Preseason Fav Odds
2016-17 ? ? Duke +450
2015-16 Villanova +2000 North Carolina +800
2014-15 Duke +1000 Kentucky +400
2013-14 UConn +7000 Kentucky +500
2012-13 Louisville +800 Indiana +700
2011-12 Kentucky +550 North Carolina +350
2010-11 UConn +4000 Duke +500
2009-10 Duke +1200 Kansas/Kentucky +500
2008-09 North Carolina +450 North Carolina +450

You can see that Duke, North Carolina or Kentucky has been the pre-season favorite in eight of the past nine seasons with the 2012-13 Indiana Hoosiers providing the lone exception. That trend continued this season with Duke (+450) listed as the early front-runner.

On Wednesday morning, Bovada posted their own futures for the upcoming college basketball season and the odds were nearly identical to those posted by the Westgate. Some of the most notable discrepancies include North Carolina (+1500 at Westgate vs. +1200 at Bovada), Arizona (+2000 at Westgate vs. +2200 at Bovada), Wisconsin (+3000 at Westgate vs. +2500 at Bovada) and Maryland (+4000 at Westgate vs. +3300 at Bovada).

With two sportsbooks seemingly providing a consensus about the top teams in the nation, we wanted to see whether any college basketball experts shared the same opinions. Luckily, ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan had already posted a way-too-early Top 25.

This year it’s particularly difficult to create accurate rankings since it is unclear which players will declare for the NBA Draft. For the first time, players can declare for the draft, speak with NBA front offices to gauge interest, compete in pre-draft workouts, and take part in the combine while maintaining their college eligibility — assuming they don’t hire an agent.

Duke’s Grayson Allen shocked many people by declaring that he will return to school for his junior season, but many key players have already opted to test the draft waters. SB Nation has posted the full list of players who have official declared, are likely to declare and will be returning to school next season.

Obviously any unexpected departures could have major ramifications, but the table below compares the oddsmaker rankings with Brennan’s pre-season Top 25.

School Bovada (4/6) Oddsmaker Rank ESPN Rank Difference
Duke 450 1 1 0
Villanova 800 3 2 1
Kentucky 600 2 3 -1
Kansas 1000 4 4 0
Louisville 1000 4 5 -1
North Carolina 1200 6 6 0
Virginia 2000 8 7 1
Indiana U 2000 8 8 0
Wisconsin 2500 12 9 3
Oregon 2000 8 10 -2
Xavier 2500 12 11 1
Arizona 2200 11 12 -1
Michigan State 1200 6 13 -7
Maryland 3300 15 14 1
West Virginia 2800 14 15 -1
Purdue 3300 15 16 -1
Syracuse 5000 20 17 3
Oklahoma 5000 20 18 2
Texas A&M 6600 25 19 6
Connecticut 3300 15 20 -5
Seton Hall 5000 20 21 -1
Iowa State 4000 18 22 -4
St Mary's CA 20000 49 23 26
UCLA 6600 25 24 1
Cinncinnati 10000 33 25 8
Michigan 6600 25 N/A N/A
Miami Florida 4000 18 N/A N/A
Gonzaga 6600 25 N/A N/A
Wichita State 6600 25 N/A N/A
Iowa 7500 30 N/A N/A
SMU 7500 30 N/A N/A
Florida 7500 30 N/A N/A
Butler 10000 33 N/A N/A
LSU 10000 33 N/A N/A
Arizona State 10000 33 N/A N/A
Notre Dame 10000 33 N/A N/A
Mississippi State 10000 33 N/A N/A
Ohio State 10000 33 N/A N/A
Vanderbilt 10000 33 N/A N/A
Texas 5000 20 N/A N/A
California 10000 33 N/A N/A
Virginia Commonwealth 15000 42 N/A N/A
Baylor 6000 24 N/A N/A
Colorado 15000 42 N/A N/A
Dayton 15000 42 N/A N/A
Florida State 15000 42 N/A N/A
Georgetown 15000 42 N/A N/A
USC 15000 42 N/A N/A
San Diego State 20000 49 N/A N/A
Tennessee 20000 49 N/A N/A
Washington State 100000 82 N/A N/A
South Carolina 20000 49 N/A N/A
UNLV 20000 49 N/A N/A
Marquette 25000 54 N/A N/A
Memphis U 25000 54 N/A N/A
Boise State 25000 54 N/A N/A
Clemson 25000 54 N/A N/A
Colorado State 25000 54 N/A N/A
Georgia 25000 54 N/A N/A
Illinois 25000 54 N/A N/A
Mississippi 25000 54 N/A N/A
Minnesota U 25000 54 N/A N/A
Alabama 25000 54 N/A N/A
Oklahoma State 25000 54 N/A N/A
Kansas State 25000 54 N/A N/A
Arkansas 25000 54 N/A N/A
Auburn 25000 54 N/A N/A
Oregon State 25000 54 N/A N/A
Pittsburgh 25000 54 N/A N/A
Georgia Tech 25000 54 N/A N/A
St John's 30000 71 N/A N/A
Stanford 30000 71 N/A N/A
Virginia Tech 30000 71 N/A N/A
Wake Forest 30000 71 N/A N/A
Missouri 30000 71 N/A N/A
Nebraska 30000 71 N/A N/A
St. Joseph's 50000 77 N/A N/A
Penn State 50000 77 N/A N/A
Massachusetts 50000 77 N/A N/A
Washington U 50000 77 N/A N/A
Temple 50000 77 N/A N/A
Boston College 100000 82 N/A N/A
St. Johns 100000 82 N/A N/A
TCU 100000 82 N/A N/A
BYU 15000 42 N/A N/A

Based on these comparisons, Brennan appears to be sleeping on Michigan State. The Spartans (+1200) have the sixth best odds of winning the national championship, yet Brennan only ranks them as the 13th best team in the country. Although the Spartans will graduate their top three scorers (Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello), they will welcome the nation’s third-best recruiting class.

On the flip side, Brennan has Saint Mary’s (CA) sneaking into the Top 25 in his rankings while oddsmakers thoroughly disagree. At 200/1, the Gaels have just the 49th best odds of winning the national championship.

One potentially undervalued team is the Arizona Wildcats (+2200). Although they will graduate three of their top four scorers, they will retain tons of talent including two dynamic guards in Allonzo Trier and Kadeem Allen. After averaging 14.8 points per game as a freshman, Trier looks primed to take that next step towards stardom. Sean Miller will also welcome the sixth-best recruiting class which features a trio of five-star recruits.

Which teams to you believe are being undervalued? Can anybody stop Duke next year? Does Villanova have a chance to repeat? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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