NCAA Basketball Picks: Power 5 Conference Futures Odds

Matthew Jordan

Friday, May 15, 2015 8:31 PM UTC

Friday, May. 15, 2015 8:31 PM UTC

There won't be betting odds for the NCAA Basketball Conference title out for several months, but let's examine the favorites for each Power 5 league by their odds to win the 2016 National Championship.

ACC: North Carolina (+800 at sportsbooks)
The Heels are your national championship favorites at BetOnline and might be the No. 1 team in the nation when the first polls come out this fall. North Carolina finished 26-12 last season, losing to eventual national runner-up Wisconsin in a very competitive Sweet 16 game. UNC brings back perhaps the nation's top point guard in Marcus Paige and two rising stars in Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson. All three of those guys could have declared for the draft. The only notable departure from last season's team was J.P. Tokoto, who really shouldn't have declared. He won't be missed on offense but was a good defensive player. In a way, the Heels "add" sophomore swingman Theo Pinson as he missed a large chunk of his freshman season injured.


Big Ten: Maryland (+900)
The Terps look like clear Big Ten favorites in their second season in the league. Maryland caught a huge break when star freshman Melo Trimble decided not to enter the draft despite the fact he would have been a first-round pick. The team also adds two good transfers in Robert Carter (Georgia Tech) and Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke). The latter committed to Maryland this week after being kicked off Duke's team last season. Because Sulaimon is expected to graduate this summer, he would be eligible this coming season. Sulaimon was a very touted recruit who averaged 11.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game as a freshman but those numbers dropped as a sophomore a bit and then again last season before being dismissed. By the way, Maryland plays North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 1 in Chapel Hill.


Big 12: Kansas (+1400)
Just like Kentucky, Kansas never rebuilds it simply reloads. The Jayhawks lost two talented freshmen to the draft in Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander, but the team's best player last season, Perry Ellis, decided to return. The 6-foot-8 Ellis averaged 13.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game and he will be an early Big 12 Player of the Year favorite. This week, the Sporting News moved Kansas into the No. 1 spot in its preseason Top 25. I don't agree with that, although Coach Bill Self welcomes two potential star freshmen in Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg. Diallo, who won the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic MVP awards, picked KU over Kentucky. He's a beast. The Jayhawks host the Wildcats in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on  Jan. 30.


Pac-12: Arizona (+1800)
I thought Arizona might win last season's national title but again Coach Sean Miller came up just short of the Final Four. This team was gutted, losing senior point guard T.J. McConnell as well as early draft entrants Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley. At least center Kaleb Tarczewski stayed. He averaged 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and is considered one of the top defensive big men in the nation. Miller has a Top-5 recruiting class on the way and brings in transfers s Ryan Anderson (from Boston College) and Kadeem Allen (from junior college).


SEC: Kentucky (+900)
Any other team that lost its top seven scorers -- Karl-Anthony Towns (potential No. 1  overall pick), Willie Cauley-Stein (expected lottery pick), Dakari Johnson, Devin Booker, the Harrison twins and Trey Lyles -- would be rebuilding in a big way. But no other school is Kentucky. Will this team finish the regular season unbeaten again? No shot. But Coach John Calipari brings back three very good players in Alex Poythress (missed most of last season with a torn ACL), Tyler Ulis and Marcus Lee, plus another stellar recruiting class led by Skal Labissiere, who might be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. There are still a few top uncommitted recruits considering UK as well. Kentucky should win the  SEC again as it's still the weakest Power 5 Conference, especially with Florida losing coach Billy Donovan. In fact, I would call LSU (+5000 on the NCAA Basketball odds), which welcomes No. 1 overall recruit Ben Simmons, as Kentucky's top challenger in that league, so keep an eye on them for your NCAA Basketball picks.

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