With the college basketball season now upon us, the clock is ticking if you still want to make your preseason bets on some teams who may be flying under the radar headed into the season. Vegas Insider has recently updated its list of college basketball futures on winning the national title. Outside the far-and-away favorites there are several teams who are in the second tier and below from an odds standpoint that can give you some good bang for your buck.
These may not be the sexiest picks, but these are teams that I believe are undervalued relative to what their Vegas odds. Let's get to my five best value bets headed into the season.
Odds to win national title: 32/1
The Hoosiers' title odds have slipped slightly from 25/1 to 32/1 since we last updated these in September. Coming off a Big Ten regular season title, Tom Crean and the Hoosiers return one of the league's rising stars in OG Anunoby, and also bring back James Blackmon Jr. and Thomas Bryant, the latter of which may be the most dominant big man in the conference. Even with Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams gone, I like Indiana and its high-flying offense to win a lot of games this year. We have them as the No. 9 team in the country heading into the season. If they can hit their stride toward the end of the season like they did last year, they will be a tough out for anyone they face in March.
Odds to win national title: 60/1
Steve Alford's Bruins team is loaded with young talent that should bolster the squad right away. The Bruins limped to a 10th-place finish in the Pac-12 last season, but point guard Lonzo Ball will help revamp an up-tempo attack alongside anogther five-star freshman, small forward TJ Leaf. Isaac Hamilton, the Pac-12's top returning scorer, is also back. The offense should be the strength this year and they have good young building blocks that should help them improve significantly from dreadful 15-17 campaign from last season. Just behind Indiana, we think UCLA is the No. 10 team in the nation.
Odds to win national title: 75/1
Maryland won 27 games last year and advanced to the Sweet 16, yet it still feels like a bit of a disappointment given the amount of talent they had on the roster. Big man Diamond Stone has moved on to the NBA, and Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon are also leave massive voids to fill. Replacing four starters will be a tough task, but Melo Trimble is a veteran who you can expect solid production from each night. The Terps have some good pieces around him with Jared Nickens and Dion Wiley set to see expanded roles this year. If Trimble can become a superstar, which he has the ability to be, he can carry the Terps a long way. Think Kemba Walker at UConn. One star player, get hot at the right time, who knows?
Odds to win national title: 125/1
*Pssst. Michigan returns its entire starting lineup from last season.*
Unfortunately, that's one of the only factors that remained the same in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines lost three undergraduates to transfer over the summer, and the final remnants of the 2013 final four team, Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert, are out the door. Not only that, but John Beilein is also replacing two long-time assistants who left for head coaching opportunities.
The frontcourt should receive a boost with Zack Irvin returning from a back injury that cost him his junior season. And Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (try saying that five times fast!) is an exciting veteran option at shooting guard, who will soak up the minutes in LeVert's role. They could make some noise in March, but they need bigger contributions Derrick Walton Jr. to step up in his senior season both as a distributor and more importantly as a consistent scoring threat.
Odds to win national title: 150/1
Buddy Buckets is in the NBA, and they also lose veterans Ryan Spangler and slasher Isaiah Cousins. It will be a tough task for Lon Kruger to replace the core of their Final Four team from last year. But he has a good starting point with their second-leading scorer back in Jordan Woodard, who will run the offense in Norman this year. Big man Khadeem Lattin will be relied on to up his production on offense this year, and sharpshooter Christian James proved he is ready for an expanded role as a junior. They may not be one of the Big 12's best teams, but they have enough talent and depth on the roster to be a dangerous team in the postseason, and at those odds the Sooners are worth a shot.
Odds to win national championship
|San Diego State||200/1|
|Florida Gulf Coast||2000/1|
|New Mexico State||2000/1|
|UC Santa Barbara||2000/1|