Good value, bad value, no value: Looking at the updated college hoops title odds
As crazy as it sounds - and it does sound crazy - we are now less than three weeks away from Selection Sunday.
That's right, three weeks from having a bracket in our hands. Three-and-a-half weeks from the start of the greatest sporting event on the planet (better known as "the NCAA Tournament"). About six weeks from crowning a college hoops national champion.
Sheesh, where did the time go?
But just because the season is winding down, it doesn't mean that it's too late to lock in a few futures bets at good value.
If anything, it's the exact opposite - if not now, then when?
Because of it, I decided to sit down today and look at the update DraftKings college basketball title odds.
What I've done is looked at the Top 10 teams in DraftKings odds (and a few others for good measure) and determine, is their current number good value for bettors, bad value for bettors or no value - with "no value" meaning the number feels about right and I wouldn't pay it.
March is just days away, but it's not too late to make some cash!
With DraftKings recently releasing updated title odds, what I've decided to do is go through all the top contenders, and tell you what I think of their chances of winning it all, in a "buy," "sell" or "stay away" format.
In the process, we'll rip through most of the big contenders, including some long shots I think have value.
Again, the odds are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook:
Gonzaga (+400) - NO VALUE/STAY AWAY
Not all these write-ups will be super long and in-depth, and this Gonzaga section certainly fits that category.
While the Zags are absolutely good enough to win it all (despite what angry people on social media will tell you), the odds here reflect that they are the overwhelming favorite, and I just don't see them as an overwhelming favorite, in a loaded field, with a lot of really good teams.
Could the Zags win it all? Absolutely. Gonzaga again scores at willing, leading the country in offense, and has a new dynamic defensively with Chet Holmgren down low that they simply didn't have last year. Oh, and for everyone saying "the Zags don't play anybody" - they've already beaten UCLA, Texas and Texas Tech, which all came out on the top-four seed lines in the NCAA's mock bracket reveal last week.
But the price you're getting them at just doesn't justify spending your hard-earned money on them.
Kentucky (+800) - GOOD VALUE
I've been a buyer on Kentucky most of the season, and that isn't going to change here.
There are plenty of obvious reasons to like Kentucky, ranging from having maybe the best player in college hoops (Oscar Tshiebwe), a pair of difference-making point guards (which is a virtual necessity in the tournament) and their near 37 percent three-point shooting as a team.
But you know what I really like about them? The Wildcats really don't have off-nights, as they enter their game on Wednesday at 22-5, and really haven't had a bad game since they lost to Notre Dame back in early December. Since then, all three of their losses have come against three teams ranked in the Top 25 when they played them (Auburn, LSU, Tennessee) in games they were down at least one key player, if not two.
Oh, and when they've been fully healthy, they've beaten North Carolina by 29, Tennessee by 28, won at Kansas by 28 and swept Alabama.
Assuming this team is fully healthy - which is sort of becoming an "if" with this group - they can beat anyone in America.
Arizona (+800) - GOOD VALUE
I know everyone wants to believe that because it's Arizona (which hasn't made a Final Four in 21 years) and because they play in the Pac-12, this team is somehow overrated or not deserving of their spot at No. 2 in the polls.
Put simply, I don't buy it, for one reason: Statistically, this team is elite on both ends of the court. While everyone focuses on the scoring - and with good reason; they're third in the country in scoring - what few people seem to realize is that the Wildcats are elite on defense as well. Arizona currently ranks third nationally in field goal percentage defense, sixth in blocks, and oh by the way, are also fifth in rebound margin.
The only concern with Arizona is something completely out of their control: They're led by a coach who has never coached in a tournament game, and a team without a player who has ever played in the Big Dance.
Still, this team might be better than anyone in the country right now.
Auburn (+1000) - NO VALUE/STAY AWAY
A few weeks ago, I listed Auburn as one of the five teams that I truly believe have all the pieces to win it all - so I'm not saying that the Tigers can't win it. When you have the likely No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft (Jabari Smith) and the likely National Defensive Player of the Year (Walker Kessler), you can play with and beat anyone in the sport.
What also can't be denied though, is that the Tigers appear to be headed in the wrong direction. They've lost their last two road games, and in the two road games before that, beat the two worst teams in the SEC by one point (at Missouri) and two points (Georgia) respectively. Even at home last week against Vanderbilt, the Tigers fell down double-digits before rallying to win going away.
To be clear, I'm not saying the Tigers can't win the title - but it just feels like you're buying at the absolute highest price on a team you could've gotten better value on a few months ago.
Purdue (+1000) - BAD VALUE
By now we know the strengths and weaknesses of Purdue - elite on offense, also equally inept on defense. The Boilermakers are No. 1 nationally in offensive efficiency, but also just 187th nationally in defensive efficiency, trailing those titans of college hoops Hampton and Merrimack in the same category.
To me, there is potential value on the Boilermakers to make a Final Four - they create matchup problems with the two-headed monster of Trevion Williams and Zach Edey down low, and Jaden Ivey will be the best player on the court in almost any game they play.
But to win a title?
History shows us that you can't be putrid on one end of the court and win it all. And unfortunately, the Boilermakers are in fact putrid on defense.
Kansas (+1400) - STAY AWAY/NO VALUE
Listen, Kansas was my preseason national championship pick, so no one wants them to be better than me. Trust me, no one loves to gloat about correct picks and predictions as me. Anyone who has heard my podcast knows that.
At the same time, even as a projected No. 1 seed in the NCAA mock bracket reveal last Saturday, I'm still not completely sold on this team. Ochai Agbagi is an All-American, but it still feels like, on any given night, you just don't know what you're getting from most of the other guys on the court.
Also, while the Jayhawks have won more games, more convincingly of late, doesn't it also feel like they play wayyyyyyy too many close games for comfort? Of their last 11 wins, four have come by a single possession, including a pair at home.
While it's a credit to Kansas for winning those games, I just don't like the idea of placing my hard-earned money on a team that plays that many close games. Especially at this price.
Duke (+1400) - GOOD VALUE
To be clear, I don't think Duke will win the national championship. But I think they can. And when you're talking about a team that has 14-1 odds this late in the season that can win the national championship it feels like it's worth taking a flyer on.
The reason they can win the national title of course is because, well, they have arguably the most talented starting five in college hoops. Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin, Mark Williams and Trevor Keels all could be first round picks, and the first two could and likely will be lottery picks. They are of course also coached by the greatest of all-time in his final season as a head coach, which means they'll have plenty of motivation in March.
Of course, there are negatives here too, including the fact that they don't have a single player on their roster - outside back-up forward Theo John - who has ever played in an NCAA Tournament game, and start three freshmen. The Blue Devils are also prone to spurts where they just don't play up to their potential, like in a home loss to Virginia or road loss to Florida State.
But again, can Duke win the national title? They sure can. Which is why I'd sprinkle a little on this line here.
Baylor (+1500) - BAD VALUE
The Bears have been plagued by injuries all season, with leading rebounder Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua out for the year and basically everyone else missing time. Incredibly, of the Bears top nine scorers, just two have played every game this season.
The inconsistency in the lineup (through no fault of their own, I might add) has shown up on the court of late, as the Bears are just 2-3 straight up in their last five games away from home. One of those wins came Monday at Oklahoma State - which was in overtime, against arguably the worst team in the league.
Sometimes it's just not your year, and that feels like the case with the Bears.
Villanova (+2200) - GOOD VALUE
Look, I love my UConn Huskies. What I can also say is, just one day after UConn beat Villanova in Hartford, there were definitely some questionable calls that went against Villanova late in that game. Then again, there was a major call that went against UConn when their head coach got ejected in one of the most egregious officiating mistakes ever.
Anyway, this is all a long-winded way of me saying that, despite Villanova's loss, I still love this team - and think they might be the biggest sleeper in college hoops. That's because, since they fell to 7-4 overall in late December, they are 14-3 overall and playing as well as anyone in the country. You also can't argue that they aren't battle-tested, as they walked into two brutal road environments in the last week - at Providence and at UConn - and easily could've walked out 2-0.
In Jay Wright I trust, and this team is starting to have the feel of one of those Villanova teams that can win it all.
UCLA (+2500) - GOOD VALUE
To be blunt, I don't know what to make of this Bruins team. On the one hand, they recently lost three of four in league play, including a bizarre stinker at Arizona State.
On the other hand it is worth noting, that they basically haven't been at full strength all year. The season started with an injury to starting forward Cody Riley, then right as he came back, the team went on a lengthy Covid pause. They came back and destroyed Arizona at Pauley Pavilion, only to lose Johnny Juzang and Tyger Campbell with nagging injuries.
In a lot of ways though, the injuries are exactly why I like UCLA so much.
Assuming they can get healthy - and there's no reason they can't - this is a team that, when healthy, has destroyed Arizona and won at Marquette, and also beat Villanova even without Riley.
Plus, in a tournament where Kentucky, Arizona and Duke enter with essentially no tournament experience, this whole Bruins squad has a bunch after last year's Final Four run.
I can't quit you, Mick Cronin! And I think the Bruins have real value here.
Illinois (+2800) - GOOD VALUE
I promised a write-up of the Top 10 teams in the new DraftKings odds, but wanted to get to No. 11 - because Illinois is the last team, with the worst odds, that I truly believe can win it all.
There are other teams listed below with better value, but I'm not totally sure they have what it takes to win the six games. Illinois does however, even if it's not likely.
What I love about this Illinois team is that one, they're battle-tested as this is essentially the same core from last year (minus Ayo Dosunmu) and also battle-tested in the Big Ten, with wins at Indiana and Michigan State in recent weeks. While neither of those teams are elite, those environments are, and the Illini won both games.
I don't think Illinois will win the title. But I think they can.
And at 28-1, Kofi Cockburn and the boys may be worth a small bet.
Texas Tech (+3000) - NO VALUE/STAY AWAY
Mark Adams is my National Coach of the Year at this moment, and I absolutely believe that the Red Raiders are good enough to make the school's second Final Four in four seasons. I'm just not sure they're good enough to win it all.
So instead what I'd do is either stay away, or wait to see if Final Four odds become available - and if they do, jump on them.
Plus, there will always be hedging opportunities down the road.
Houston (+3500) - BAD VALUE
Let's quickly rip through some other teams with one or two sentences write-ups and let me say - this is a major stay away. I love Kelvin Sampson, but the Cougars lost their two best players earlier in the season and we're starting to just now see the ramifications of it.
This team isn't winning a title, and unfortunately, is so injury-ravaged, might not even make the second weekend.
Don't do it.
Tennessee (+4500) - GOOD VALUE
Rick Barnes has found some magic playing Zakai Zeigler and Kennedy Chandler together, and it has shown with nine SEC wins in their last 10.
I don't think the Vols will win it all, but there will be some good hedging opportunities down the road.
Texas (+5000) - AWFUL VALUE
No one drank more Texas Kool-Aid in the preseason than I did, and can't lie, I've been sick to my stomach about it ever since. Texas can't shoot and is super-limited offensively. They can only win a certain style of game, and is going to struggle with just about anyone that can score more than 60 points in an NCAA Tournament game.
Just burn your money (or give it to your favorite charity) before you consider spending it on a Texas future.
Alabama (+6000) - AWFUL VALUE
Spare me, the "Well, they beat Gonzaga, Baylor and Houston in the out of conference they can play with anyone!!" non-sense. This team was legitimately awesome in November and December but hasn't been the same since Houston, with wins over Baylor and Arkansas in recent weeks coming more from injuries and foul trouble than the Tide figuring anything out.
I love Nate Oats, and am buying all the stock I can in the future of this program.
But the present? No thank you.
Arkansas (+7000) - GOOD VALUE
If you can win 12 of 13 in the SEC (with one out of conference game mixed in) you can absolutely make the Final Four, and I believe the Hogs are "Final Four good."
I'm not sure they can win a title, but if you get them at 70-1 there will be some great hedging opportunities down the road.
UConn (+7000) - GOOD VALUE
Essentially the same as what I just wrote about Arkansas. I'm not sure they can win a title, but the Huskies have beaten Auburn and Villanova this week, which in my mind means they can play with anyone.
I'd throw a few bucks on them and hedge out after they win a few tourney games.
Providence (+8000) - GOOD VALUE
I just don't get the Providence hate, I really don't.
Eighty-to-one on this team is stealing money.
Get in now, before the odds change.
For updated college hoops title odds - visit DraftKings Sportsbook