It’s a New Year and a good time to take a look at the NCAA Futures for 2013-2014 NCAA College Basketball and see if we can find some value in a darkhorse who has a chance at contending for the NCAA Championship or a favorite who has a legitimate shot and that you can still bet at attractive college basketball odds. Let’s take a look.
Arizona Wildcats- 11/2
Powered Behind Defense
I remember doing an article about Rhode Island vs. Arizona earlier in the season and Rams coach Dan Hurley said that Arizona plays like an NBA team; Hurley was right. The Wildcats have remained undefeated and have a defense that’s 2nd to none.
They’ve allowed 62 point or less in 13 out of their last 15 games and have even held a team to 25 points in a single game. The challenges keep on coming. Arizona has a matchup against UCLA tonight, but the Wildcats are a favorite in nearly every matchup that they encounter.
The Wildcats are led by junior, Nick Johnson (16 ppg. , 3.6 rpg.), but have outstanding freshman in Aaron Gordon (12.4 ppg, 8 rpg.) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson coming off of the bench. With a balance of a solid offense and a top notch defense, this team is a nice price and could go all the way.
Michigan State- 6/1
The Spartans are a battle-tested team and their experience can prove to come in handy in the NCAA Tournament. This is a team that made a statement against Kentucky at the beginning of the season as they defeated the Wildcats and have only loss this season. The loss came at the hands of the North Carolina Tarheels as Roy Williams has had Tom Izzo’s number over the past few years.
Odds makers give this team credit that the pollsters haven’t as they’re ranked 5th in the top 25 AP poll. With the talent of Gary Harris and clutch play of Keith Appling and Adreian Payne, the Spartans are definitely a possibility to take the title. I expect this team to be a number 1 seed with their vast amount of experience. The schedule gets more difficult, but it’s the Spartans opponents that should be afraid.
Kentucky – 7/1
Given Too Much Credit
We’ve seen a Kentucky Wildcats team of freshman win a championship before, but this year’s “one and done” crew might be getting more credit than they deserve. The Cats were ranked 1st in the nation at the beginning of the season, but quickly realized that they weren’t #1 after Michigan State defeated them in the 3rd game of the season. Kentucky has now endured losses to Michigan State, North Carolina, and Baylor and we’re just at the beginning of inter-conference scheduling.
The Wildcats are led by one of the best players in college basketball in freshman Julius Randle. Randle has great size for being just a freshman and is averaging a double-double per game on the season. This is a team that can beat any team at any time and that makes them an option to be national champions, but if you ask me, they’re a bit overrated. Most of the times that they were tested, they failed.
Even though this is a team which claimed a double-digit victory early in the season over Duke, they’re similar to Kentucky in that they’re overrated due to freshman Andrew Wiggins. In his early season matchup against Duke, Wiggins was grossly outplayed by freshman Jabari Parker. That said, the Jayhawks still won the game. Other than the Duke game, they don’t have many big wins on their resume. This is a team that’s lost to Villanova, Colorado, Florida, and San Diego State. Wiggins has great potential, but taking Kansas as a future college basketball pick would be a waste of money.
Syracuse – 10/1
Odds makers think very little of Syracuse as the Orange are undefeated and ranked 2nd in the country and yet are a 10/1 shot to win it all. This is a team that can’t be counted out with great experience in C.J. Fair and one of the greatest college coaches of all-time in Jim Boeheim. Syracuse has the knack of advancing farther than people think and at 10/1, are a great price. C.J. Fair wants to impress NBA scouts as he’s currently a question mark in their eyes and will get his chance.
Great Price, Great Coach, Great Team
With the “Big 3” of Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, and Quinn Cook, Duke is a threat to win the National Championship. Parker has made many highlight reels and has proven that he has what it takes to be a star at the next level. Along with Parker, there’s transfer Rodney Hood who could be a number one option on almost any other team. Either or both of these players usually lead Duke on a regular basis with 20 plus points per night and are outstanding defenders. You add in the precision-like passing of experienced point guard, Quinn Cook, and this is a “Big 3” that can match up with any team in the country.
Duke is a fundamentally sound basketball team ,led by the winningest coach of all-time in Mike Krzyzewski. This is a very appealing price as Duke looks for yet another ACC Title and National Championship.
I have left out teams like Ohio State and Wisconsin as the talent pool in NCAA Basketball runs very deep. My initial thoughts are that Kentucky and Kansas are awful plays while I’d be leaning towards Michigan State and Duke.