CBB Odds For March Madness Betting: Biggest Risers and Best Bets
In what has already been one of the more interesting seasons of college basketball, things have gotten even more intriguing over the last month of college hoops
Early this season it was the NCAA’s late decision that ruled 7-foot transfer Uros Plavsic eligible for the Tennessee Volunteers (11-6). A couple of weeks ago, it was the Tuesday night fight inside Allen Fieldhouse as the Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas State Wildcats left their benches to throw punches and raise chairs amongst the crowd.
That’s not to mention the early-season controversy that led to a short collegiate career for top 2020 NBA draft prospect James Wiseman. Wiseman withdrew from the University of Memphis in December to prepare for the NBA draft after the NCAA handed out a suspension to the freshman center for accepting money from Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway before Hardaway became a university employee.
Now things are heating up as teams enter the final stretch of the season to build their NCAA Tournament resumes. Before we know it, March Madness — one of the most popular times of the year for sports betting — will ensue. In the meantime, let’s look at where March Madness betting odds currently stand and try to find some value bets before the dust settles.
March Madness 2020 Betting Odds — Risers
No. 1 Baylor Bears +1000
Baylor opened closer to +6000 at legal US sportsbooks. By early November, Baylor’s odds had moved to +4000 as the Bears increasingly became a popular 2020 NCAA Tournament futures bet. Fast forward and Baylor is now the seventh No. 1 team this season. They’ve moved up the rankings and betting boards by winning 20 of their first 21 games, which includes wins against Villanova, Arizona, Butler, Texas Tech and Kansas.
Unlike the other six teams, Baylor has managed to stay atop the college basketball rankings for a month. They have two tough tests coming up against West Virginia and No. 3 Kansas. Luckily, the game will be played in Waco, where KenPom favors the Bears in both outings. If you’re looking to get your hands on some Baylor shares, it’s probably best to wait and hope they slip up soon.
No. 13 Butler Bulldogs +4000
Long gone are the +15000 (150-to-1) odds that FanDuel Sportsbook started the Butler Bulldogs out with before the college hoops season tipped off. Butler started 15-1 before losing five of their last eight games. In hindsight, Butler’s most impressive performance might have been a one-point loss at Baylor. Butler also has double-digit wins against Florida and Creighton that can’t go ignored. To weeks ago, only seven teams were in front of Butler (+1900) to win the 2020 Final Four at PointsBet. That number has crept back up to +4000 since the Bulldogs’ most recent losses to Marquette and Providence.
No. 14 West Virginia Mountaineers +3000
This time last year, the West Virginia Mountainers had just lost their fourteenth game and started conference play 2-9. By the end of the season, West Virginia’s 14-20 record wasn’t even an NIT-worthy resume. The bearish vibes from bettors and oddsmakers carried over into the 2019-20 season. The Mountainers were as low as 160-to-1 to win the 2020 National Championship in the fall. Well, we all should’ve known Bob Huggins’ team would bounce back. You won’t find them pressing as much as they have in the past, but they still use a hard-nosed defense to suffocate their opponents. West Virginia has one of the most significant home-court advantages in college basketball, recently beating TCU and the Texas Longhorns by a combined 70 points in Morgantown. The Mountaineers have plenty of home wins to add to their resume, and could reasonably end up with a three or four seed come March Madness. It might be too late to justify betting on their futures price, but they’ll be an intimidating matchup in the NCAA tournament. Don’t be shocked if their defense takes them all the way to Atlanta.
March Madness 2020 Betting Odds — The Fallen
North Carolina Tar Heels +10000
We might be watching the worst Roy Williams team yet. Hell, he said as much. The Tar Heels are 8-9, and yet DraftKings Sportsbooks inexplicably still has them +4000 to win not the NIT but the NCAA tournament. They might have entered the season +1400, but +1000 isn’t even worth grabbing at FanDuel Sportsbook. The only way this team makes the tournament is by running the table in the ACC Conference Tournament. Don’t count on it, and definitely don’t bet on it.
Texas Longhorns +18000
Texas didn’t make the 2019 NCAA Tournament, but there was some hope that Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart might turn things around in his fifth year at Texas. After all, Smart has been able to grab some great recruiting classes and NBA prospects, and the Longhorns did win the 2019 NIT Championship. The latter isn’t worth much, but it at least provided some hope that the Longhorns basketball program was on the cusp of being competitive again. Any hope that remained in Austin this season vanished when the Mountaineers roped the Longhorns 97-59 in Morgantown, dealing Texas their worst Big 12 defeat in program history two weeks ago. The Longhorns might get to defend their NIT crown, but Texas fans are already looking for their next coach.
March Madness 2020 Betting Odds — Best Bets
No. 24 Rutgers Scarlet Knights +10000
This one gets tricky, because according to NJ sports betting regulations, you can’t bet on college events taking place in New Jersey or on any game involving a New Jersey-based college. That means you won’t be able to bet on Rutgers in DraftKings Sports Betting Spring Championship, either. That’s unfortunate for Rutgers fans because the Rutgers Scarlet Knights are on their way to an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since…1991. This made it into the Top 25 rankings for the first time since 1979 but quickly fell out after losing to Michigan and Maryland.
Not only are the Scarlet Knights headed to the tournament, but they also have a team that can make a Cinderella run come March and April. While you won’t find them at any New Jersey sportsbooks, you can still bet on them in Vegas. According to VI, Rutgers is currently +10000 to win the 2020 NCAA Tournament. A month ago, they were still +20000 (200-to-1). I think Rutgers’ odds shorten as they continue to play strong leading up to March Madness.
No. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes +6000
The Hawkeyes have one of the best big men in the country. Luka Garza, now the Wood Award betting favorite at DraftKings, has taken a huge leap in his junior season. The upperclassman is averaging over 10 rebounds and 23 points per game — 10 more points than his 2018-19 average. When he shoots, he often scores (55.7% FG). Garza is a nightmare for defenders, and Iowa has enough surrounding talent and perimeter shooters to make this an interesting bet. There’s no real dominant team in the NCAA, so I think it’s best to find longer odds on potential contenders like the Hawkeyes.
Other 2020 NCAA Tournament Betting Notes
No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks +1100
Two Jayhawks were suspended after a rowdy Tuesday night with rival Kansas State a couple of weeks ago. Don’t expect it to hurt their national championship chances too much though. As “CJ Moore of The Athletic”:https://twitter.com/CJMooreHoops said at the time, “basically this puts KU an injury away from needing to think about pulling Mitch Lightfoot’s redshirt, but other than that, I don’t think it’s a huge on-court impact.” Moore went on to write that the suspensions ironically make it easier for Bill Self to handle his rotation. Things have played out as Moore predicted. Kansas has as good of a shot at cutting down the nets in April as anyone.
No. 24 Texas Tech Red Raiders +5000
Okay, this Texas Tech grad takes back what he said about the Red Raiders few games ago. Let me start over….Who might be this year’s Texas Tech? Well, Texas Tech. After a sloppy start in Big 12 play, Chris Beard’s young team is starting to click. They took Kentucky to overtime, fought back from an early deficit to lose by three points in Lawrence, and then took down a tough West Virginia team. They have the easiest part of their conference schedule ahead before ending the season with rematches against Kansas and Baylor. We should all know to never count Beard out by now. Jah’mius Ramsey is one of the best freshmen in the country, and any team coached by Beard has a chance to make a deep NCAA Tournament run come March.