With March Madness rapidly approaching, the picture is starting to come into focus about where teams stand. We have some big name programs struggling to even find their way in, while others are focused on grabbing a top seed come tournament time. Even though the tournament is over a month away, we have an opportunity in the CBB betting world to search the odds for some potential value in the futures market. Teams that may be flying under the radar still have massive price tags attached to them to win the championship.
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What is a Futures bet?
In sports betting, we have all types of bets that we are able to wager on. Most people focus on an individual game taking place the day of and that is known as a straight bet. These aren’t going to get you a huge payoff, but they are also much easier to cash than a parlay or other bets with longer odds. Future bets fall into the big risk/reward category as they are a wager on something that isn’t in the immediate future. The longer you are out from the event, the bigger the odds are going to be as a lot can happen in the sports world.
For example, you could place a wager on a team to win March Madness at the beginning of the season only to have them not even make the tournament. On the flip side, they could have a big season and be a top seed and you have those long odds from the beginning of the season locked in. The entire goal of betting futures is to capture value and buy low on teams that have potential.
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NCAA Championship Futures
Oregon is the class of the Pac-12 and a potential top seed come tournament time. The lack of a dominant team is going to make it a constant shuffle in terms of the rankings, but Oregon should remain in the hunt. They currently sit at 18-5 on the season and have played a number of top-end teams so they are plenty battle-tested. Personnel-wise, they check most of the of the boxes we want in a possible future bet, and that starts with their point guard.
Senior Payton Pritchard has more experience than basically any player in America. He leads the Ducks with 19.5 points per game and adds four boards and five assists, so he’s contributing in every category. The benefit of having a floor general who has been there before cannot be undervalued, especially with how college basketball is structured. So many teams rely on freshman and Oregon is one of the few that have upperclassmen leading the charge.
Odds-wise, Oregon is sitting at 22-1 and that number certainly could be outdone at other books. The CBB betting markets haven’t identified a clear favorite and that is why we need to explore adding some futures to the card. If Oregon finishes the season strong, they will be a potential top seed and this number will get much lower. As such, I will lock them in now.
So far this season, I am not sure there has been a more frustrating team to watch than Maryland. The Terps are incredibly talented, but they are terrible on the road and start slow seemingly every game. The road issues won’t be a huge deal come March, but starting slow certainly will be. They cannot afford to fall behind in a tournament setting and that is the risk we take when looking at a possible futures bet on them.
As frustrating as Maryland is, it is not all doom and gloom as their talent is through the roof. They are 18-4 and like Oregon have experience at point guard with senior Anthony Cowan. He leads the team in scoring and assists and will give the Terps an advantage in the backcourt in almost any matchup. It is not a one-man show, however, as Maryland has multiple bigs and is top-five in the country in defensive efficiency. They currently are 2-4 on the road but undefeated on neutral and home court.
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Seed-wise, Maryland is projected around a four by ESPN and will have an opportunity to be a serious threat to their region. So much can change, but the fact Maryland already is part of the top 16 is a positive considering their reasonable odds in the market.
Similar to DFS, when looking for a future wager, we want a team with monster upside. Maryland may have stretches that look dysfunctional, but their ceiling to me may be one of the highest in the country and that has me interested. 30-1 is enough value considering the lack of clear-cut favorites that we will have come tournament time. March Madness is always filled with upsets, but this year we have an especially wide open field and it makes the futures market appealing.
With the college basketball season so wide open, we can open up the odds for a possible long shot to make a deep run. This year seems destined to have a few higher seeds get hot come tournament time. One team I have my eye on is Florida, who is extremely talented despite an average 2019-20 campaign.
The Gators currently sit at just 13-8 on the year, but are only a few games removed from demolishing then-fourth-ranked Auburn. That game showed a glimpse of Florida’s upside and they do not having a glaring weakness. Per Kenpom, Florida is 29th in offensive efficiency and 68th in defensive efficiency so they can beat you in a variety of ways. Their 3-point shooting is a continued concern, but they have made strides after a horrible start from beyond the arc. Virginia Tech transfer Kerry Blackshear was a gigantic addition for them and they are deep at pretty much every position.
It’s a reasonable question to wonder what type of seed this team will get come March and the road could be difficult. Currently, ESPN’s bracketology has Florida as an 11 seed, but there is plenty of time for them to improve. Regardless, nobody wants to see them come March as they are balanced and aren’t overly reliant on any single player for production. Florida has four guys averaging north of 10 points and that is going to cause problems for anyone in their region. The odds to me are only going to drop as they look to be turning a corner and this is a futures bet with a ton of value.
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