Best Bets for College Basketball Win Totals

It’s still a long way until March, but the college basketball season tips off Tuesday as teams begin their quest to Atlanta, Georgia for the 2020 NCAA Final Four. Will Duke get past the Elite Eight this year? Who is this season’s Texas Tech? And can Cassius Winston — the betting favorite to win the Wooden Award — lead preseason No. 1 Michigan State to their third National Championship in school history? We won’t know the answer to most of those questions for months, but we can get a head start by looking at college basketball win totals and futures across the sports betting industry.

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DraftKings and FanDuel are two online sports betting sites that have posted regular season win totals. For our purposes, we’ll look at those and compare the totals to Circa Sports in Vegas in hopes of finding a few bets worth making before Tuesday night.

Duke Under 24.5 Wins

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The Duke Blue Devils opened with a 25.5 win total last week, but it has been bet down to 24.5, closer to Circa’s opening 23.5. Duke has to reload after losing freshmen stars Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. They’ll be replaced by a new batch of freshmen — Vernon Carey Jr., Matthew Hurt, Wendell Moore and Cassius Stanley, but sophomore Tre Jones is expected to be the leader inside the locker room and on the court in terms of production. While Duke didn’t get to the Final Four in 2019, the incoming still class has big shoes to fill. I’m afraid those shoes might be too big and the lights too bright. Consider their exhibition opener. I know, it’s just a scrimmage, but in it Duke only beat Northwest Missouri State 69-63.

What others are saying: Duke has been dreadful shooting from three so far this year, albeit the sample size consists merely of an intrasquad scrimmage and an exhibition contest. Still, the team’s outside shooting has been so bad in those two games that the numbers remain a cause for concernDuke Chronicle

During their intrasquad scrimmage, the teams combined to shoot 4-of-25. Against Northwest Missouri State they were a dreadful 2-for-16.

Duke is one of those teams that the public loves to bet on, which often creates value in fading the Blue Devils. This season is no different. Though it would’ve been nice to bet earlier, I still think there’s value on Under 24.5 at DraftKings and FanDuel.

Baylor Over 21.5 Wins

At 8-0, the Baylor Bears have been the biggest surprise of Big 12 football. It turns out, Baylor fans have plenty to look forward to in basketball as well. The Bears return Tristan Clark, who missed the second half of his sophomore season due to a knee injury. The forward was second on the team in scoring, averaging 14.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game before being sidelined. Clark is set to lead other returning starters along with key additions from the transfer portal as they try to improve on their most recent 20-win season.

Scheduled to host Arizona in early December, No. 16 Baylor only faces one top 25 opponent in non-conference play. The main hurdle to 22 wins will be the strength of the Big 12, arguably the deepest conference in the country from top to bottom.

Last season, it was beneficial to wait on before betting on most national championship futures, as money piling in on Duke and Zion created value even on teams that we were winning throughout non-conference play. That’s unlikely to be the case this year, which is why I’m betting on Baylor +4000 to win the national championship before Tuesday

Memphis Over 23.5 Wins

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The Memphis Tigers’ win total was 26.5 at DraftKings a week ago. That number took a fall as early bettors were ready to fade the Memphis hype. Why so much hype for a program that lost in the second round of the 2019 NIT and hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament since 2014? In just his second year as a head coach on the collegiate level, and spurred by connections formed during his time as a prominent AAU coach, former NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway brings in the country’s top-ranked recruiting class. Hardaway is the first coach not named Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari to lock in the No. 1 recruiting in over a decade.

Memphis will introduce seven freshmen, plus a transfer from Florida named Isaiah Stokes. Stokes his still waiting to hear from the NCAA regarding his waiver appeal. If approved, Stokes will help provide experience to a team filled with youth. The main players you’ll be hearing about are James Wiseman (+750 to win the Wooden Award at DraftKings) and Precious Achiuwa (+6000), the No. 1 and No. 15 players, respectively, in the 2019 class according to 247Sports

The Tigers have two intriguing non-conference matchups. The first is against No. 15 Oregon and the second will be against in-state rival Tennessee. Besides those, they should fly through to AAC conference play. There, the biggest threats are Cincinnati and the University Houston. Last week, I would have been betting the Under, but now that it’s down to 23.5, I’m ready to buy low.

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Texas Tech Under 22 Wins

I backed the Texas Tech Red Raiders at long odds to win the 2019 National Championship only to be left heartbroken. While I can’t wait to watch them again and believe that Chris Beard is one of the best coaches in the nation, I am a bit skeptical heading into the 2019-20 schedule.

The Red Raiders have to replace four starters, most notably lottery pick Jarrett Culver and seniors Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens. Of course, it’s not like Beard is new to this. That’s precisely what he did after reaching the Elite Eight in 2018. With Beard’s leadership and hustle in the grad transfer portal, Texas Tech defied the odds and didn’t lose a step. In fact, they picked it up, breaking the very records that were set one season before.

Beard managed to grab two more grad transfers in the offseason. Chris Clarke (Virginia Tech) could end up the best player on the team and TJ Holyfield (Stephen F. Austin) will start, but it’s tough to picture any grad transfer duo impacting the hardwood like Mooney and Owens in 2019. In addition to Clarke and Holyfield, Texas Tech will unveil their first five-star recruit, Jahmius Ramsey (+50000), in program history. The guard will be called on to step up in place of Culver. Already listed in 2020 NBA mock drafts, Ramsey could find himself playing against Culver this time next year.

Despite the bright additions, there’s a bit of panic in Lubbock as insiders warn fans to temper their expectations, at least during the first half of the season. Texas Tech will end up in the top half of the conference, but there are plenty of losses to be spread around in the Big 12 and no team will walk away unscathed. There will be enough hiccups that Texas Tech’s newcomers will fall short of the 22-win mark. Grab the Under at DraftKings.

Here are more general NCAA basketball betting tips.

Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images

About the Author

  • Matt Schmitto (schmitto)

  • Matt Schmitto is the sports betting editor for RotoGrinders. He grew up in Texas, graduating from Texas Tech University. He has played high stakes DFS since 2013, and enjoys betting on golf, basketball, football and whatever else is put in front of him. Schmitto is an advocate of The Bettor’s Oath.

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