College hoops is just around the corner, and SBR is looking at the top freshmen for the coming season and how they are playing a role in the NCAA odds.
If your first thought was Dick Vitale is going to have plenty of opportunities to talk about diaper dandies, may I suggest using the MUTE button more often when tuning into broadcasts? Not only do you not hear Vitale's overused clichés, you'll be surprised how much more you'll pick up watching the games without all the nonsense clogging your ears.
What it really means is we only have one season to watch some of these kids before they bolt for a big payday in the pros. The 2013-14 college basketball betting campaign officially tips Nov. 6 when Coppin State visits California for the first matchup of Division I teams. In all, 351 schools will compete for the Men's Basketball Championship, 350 of those also vying for conference crowns with New Jersey Tech the lone independent. Playing a key role in the college basketball futures odds is a deep 1st-year group of players, some of whom will be called next June in the NBA draft.
KU's Wiggins A Definite One & Done
The NBA's top pick in 2014 just may be Kansas Jayhawks frosh Andrew Wiggins. The son of a former 1st-round pick, Wiggins is one of the most-talked about and hyped players to come along in quite a while, good enough to have already found himself on an SI cover.
The hype and expectations could be tough to live up to, but NCAA futures odds have Wiggins and the Wildcats good enough to warrant 5/1 on the list, second only to Kentucky (3/1). Kansas is also the strongest favorite to win a conference title with 4/5 odds in the Big 12.
Wiggins will need to have a big season for the Wildcats to succeed after Bill Self lost his top five scorers from a year ago. Two more freshmen are expected to see a lot action alongside Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid, and it's the 7-foot Embiid who might be the most important of the three trying to step in immediately for Jeff Withey.
Also, check out Joe Feda's Impact Rookies article to continue on the Freshamn topic~
Oops! Calipari Does It Again
No mention of a great recruiting class would be complete without John Calipari and Kentucky. These Wildcats lost five of their top six players, but brought in six new youngsters that Coach Cal's biggest problem might be finding enough minutes for each.
The new class features backcourt twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, and that haul alone was probably enough to make UK the favorite to win it all. Kentucky also landed forwards Julius Randle and Marcus Lee, guard James Young and center Dakari Johnson on a team that retained key sophomore big men Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress.
Andrew Harrison is the most polished player of the group, but not a sure thing to leave after one year. There's a chance Calipari could have most if not all back to begin the 2014-15 schedule.
Parker Leads Best Of Rest
While this is a great freshman class, Wiggins might be the only lock for the One & Done list. Duke's Jabari Parker was right there with the Harrison Brothers on many recruiting lists the past few years, and his decision to head to Durham has the Blue Devils 8/1 on the NCAA futures odds for our college basketball picks. Parker will get a chance to star early, but this is a small Duke team if Marshall Plumlee can't contribute quality minutes.
Speaking of Jabari, that season opener mentioned earlier has another stud frosh by that name in Cal's Jabari Bird. Like Jabari Parker back east on Tobacco Road, Jabari Bird might be content with staying on for his sophomore season. The Golden Bears are 8/1 picks in Pac-12 basketball futures, fifth behind Arizona (7/4), Colorado (3/1), UCLA (7/2) and Oregon (5/1).
Memphis and Syracuse are two teams that intrigue me right now. Both schools are embarking on new conference missions, boldly going where no Wildcats or Orange have gone before. We know the two coaches, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and Josh Pastner of Memphis, want to make an immediate impact, and they each have a freshman star to help.
Tyler Innis should get immediate minutes in the backcourt for Syracuse, 20/1 for the national title and 5/2 behind Duke to take the ACC in the Orange's inaugural slate. Memphis is fetching a $12 price on the college basketball odds board, and the Tigers have Austin Nichols joining a team that returns Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford and Geron Johnson. Another Memphis freshman that we need to watch is Kuran Iverson, who could prove as troublesome off the court as his cousin Allen Iverson.
Check back starting tomorrow for first-looks at a few of the early NCAA tournaments.