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UCLA, Duke, Kentucky leading latest odds to win NCAA Tournament

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Legacy programs such as the UCLA Bruins, Duke Blue Devils and Kentucky Wildcats drive interest in college basketball but don’t necessarily create value for futures-focused bettors.

Two months away from March Madness, UCLA, Duke and Kentucky are 1-2-3 on the 2017 NCAA Tournament champion futures board at sportsbooks monitored by at +500, +525 and +550, respectively, on those college basketball odds.

While the Bruins have not been the last team standing cutting down the nets in celebration since 1995, point guard Lonzo Ball and power forward T.J. Leaf have furnished the Pac-12 powerhouse with one of the most potent offenses in the league.

Duke’s odds are likely to slip soon after recent losses to Louisville and Florida State. One should keep in mind how much instability the Blue Devils are contending with – first injuries in the frontcourt to freshmen Marques Bolden, Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum and now the current absense of coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is  recuperating from facial surgery. Duke should still be a force by March.

Kentucky, meanwhile, is 15-2 straight-up and 11-6 against the spread behind the freshman guard combo of De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. The Wildcats have also been one of the best offensive teams in the country while playing a challenging first-half schedule.

The defending champion Villanova Wildcats, reigning runners-up North Carolina Tar Heels and Kansas Jayhawks are each listed at +1200. It’s been exactly 10 seasons since a team repeated and Villanova, with coach Jay Wright’s ability to temper the pace of games and seasoned holdovers such as SF Kris Jenkins and SG Josh Hart, could be tough in the tournament.

The top-ranked Baylor Bears are still well down the board at +1400, suggesting oddsmakers are dubious about their staying power. But coach Scott Drew preaches inside-the-opponent’s-shirt defense, and has taken a team as far as the Elite Eight (in 2010).

Baylor’s devotion to playing zone defense and physical presence with C Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. and PF Johnathan Motley could make them hard to prepare for in a single-elimination tournament, not unlike the Syracuse teams that have had surprise runs to the Final Four in recent history.

The Arizona Wildcats, at +4000, are also a darkhorse pick. Arizona – who would be the de facto home team at the Final Four if they get that far – is 16-2 SU and 9-8-1 ATS even though PG Parker Jackson-Cartwright has been limited by a high ankle sprain. Arizona also has freshmen catalysts aplenty who could break out in March, including smooth-shooting Finnish big man Lauri Markkanen. The Final Four takes place on April 1 and 3 in Glendale, Arizona.

Kansas, Villanova Face Pesky Underdogs on Sweet 16 Betting Lines

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Both the Kansas Jayhawks and the Villanova Wildcats’ opponents in the Sweet 16 drag in a poor conference trend.

The Jayhawks and senior leader Devonte’ Graham are five-point betting favorites against the Clemson Tigers with a 142.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by in a Midwest Region betting matchup in Omaha on Friday.

While Kansas got through the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament without being in peak form, the the OddsShark College Basketball Database shows it is 16-4 straight-up and 11-8-1 against the spread in its last 20 games as a favorite of 5.0 or fewer points. Clemson is 0-4 SU and ATS in its last four games against the Big 12, the conference Kansas has dominated for 14 years.

Although the total has gone over in three of Clemson’s last four games, it possesses strong interior defense. Kansas will try to counter that through its perimeter game and the return of seven-foot center Udoka Azubuike, who missed almost all of the last two weeks due to a knee ailment.

The Duke Blue Devils are 11.5-point favorites against the Syracuse Orange with a 133.5 total in the late Midwest Region matchup. There are strong trends on each side of this ACC matchup – for instance, Syracuse is 7-1 ATS in its last eight NCAA Tournament games, while Duke is 7-2 ATS in its last nine games against the ACC.

Both teams exhibited robust defense in the first round. Duke, with freshman Marvin Bagley leading a lineup that has five double-digit scorers, has a much better offense. Syracuse is 2-10 SU in its last 12 games as a double-digit underdog.

The Villanova Wildcats are five-point favorites on the March Madness odds against the West Virginia Mountaineers with a 152.5 total in an East Region matchup at Boston. West Virginia, which is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games against the Big East, is one of the poorest teams in the country at defending three-pointers, which is Villanova’s speciality.

The form favors Villanova, which has a 1-2 scoring punch with Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges and is 19-0 SU in its last 19 games on a Friday. The total, incidentally, exactly matches the average combined score of West Virginia’s last eight games, seven of which have finished over.

And the Purdue Boilermakers are 1.5-point favorites against the Texas Tech Red Raiders with a 137 total in the late East Region matchup. While it’s true that Texas Tech has never gone deeper than the Sweet 16, it is 8-2 SU and 7-2-1 ATS in its last 10 games and has a diverse offense built around guard Keenan Evans.

Purdue could still be without center Isaac Haas down low, but the Boilermakers, 18-3 SU in their last 21 games, are a good shooting team thanks to Carsen Edwards, Vincent Edwards and point guard Dakota Mathias. The total has gone over in six of Texas Tech’s last eight games (average combined score: 143.0). The total  has also gone over in four of Purdue’s last five games (average combined score: 143.4).

The winning teams advance to the Elite Eight on Sunday. The first two Final Four spots will be determined on Saturday, with the Kansas State Wildcats facing the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in the South Region final in Atlanta, while the Michigan Wolverines face the Florida State Seminoles in the West Region final in Los Angeles.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at


NCAA Tournament: Michigan, Gonzaga Sweet 16 betting favorites

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The Michigan Wolverines and big man Moritz Wagner will surely try to grind down the pace against the Texas A&M Aggies in their Sweet 16 matchup this week.

Michigan, the highest surviving seed in the West Region, are three-point favorites against Texas A&M on the March Madness odds with a 134.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by in a Thursday matchup that takes place in Los Angeles.

Michigan might not have played to potential during the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, but the OddsShark College Basketball Database shows they are 11-0 straight-up and 9-2 against the spread in their last 11 games.

Texas A&M will try to cancel out Wagner with sophomore forward Robert Williams, but the big question is whether their streaky three-point shooting will run hot or cold against Michigan, one of the best defensive teams in the country. Texas A&M is 6-1 SU in its last seven games against the Big Ten.

The total has gone over in five of Michigan’s last seven games, but the average total has been 134.86, right around this matchup’s likely closing total.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs are 5.5-point betting favorites against the Florida State Seminoles with a 153-point total in the late West Region betting matchup at Los Angeles. Gonzaga has plentiful scoring options, including Zach Norvell, but squeaking through its first two games reflects how it is 5-12 ATS in its last 17 games as a favorite.

Florida State, which has had the over hit in five of its last six Thursday games, has a pressing defense that can cause problems and also has length in their hard-court defense. The Seminoles are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as an underdog of 5.5 or more, but 3-15 SU in their last 18 matchups when oddsmakers spotted them that many points.

The Nevada Wolf Pack are 1.5-point favorites against the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers with a 143.5 total in a South Region betting matchup at Atlanta. The pace will likely be tied to the point guard matchup between Nevada’s Cody Martin, who leads one of the country’s highest-scoring offenses, and Loyola-Chicago’s Clayton Custer.

Nevada has an average total of 160.33 in its last three games and it is 10-3 SU in its last 13 games when it’s had at least three days of rest. Loyola-Chicago is 15-3 ATS in its last 18 games against teams with winning records.

And the Kentucky Wildcats are 5.5-point favorites against the Kansas State Wildcats with a 138.5 total, also at Atlanta. Kentucky, led by the likes of guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and forward Kevin Knox, has shown signs it can sustain its two big trends – it is 6-0 SU and ATS in its last six as a favorite of six or fewer points and nine of its last 10 games have gone over.

Kansas State leading scorer Dean Wade (foot) could return from missing the last three games, but these Wildcats are just 1-3 SU in their last four games after consecutive wins.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at