The 2015-2016 college hoops campaign is fast approaching, and we're taking an early look at some of the top teams on the NCAA basketball futures odds.
To quote one of the most famous members of the US Marine Corps, Gomer Pyle, "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" The Kentucky Wildcats and Duke Blue Devils top the list of favorites to win the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.
Actually, it's no surprise at all seeing them at the top of the college basketball futures odds. Kentucky and Duke are perennial hardwood favorites and both made it to the Final Four last spring, the Wildcats seeing an undefeated season end in the semifinals when Wisconsin tripped them up, and the Blue Devils winning it all by taking out those Badgers for their fifth national title. Anyone feeling shortchanged by not seeing Kentucky and Duke play in the finals is in luck; the Wildcats and Blue Devils meet November 17 in Chicago as part of the Champions Classic, a game that is sure to draw a lot of action on the NCAA Basketball Odds.
Sports books have yet to really get on board in releasing numbers, but a few that have are listing Kentucky as an 8/1 choice to cut down the nets in Houston next April. A lot of talent is gone from last season's squad, but as usual, John Calipari has reloaded with a solid class of freshmen that includes the consensus top center from the Class of 2015, Skal Labissiere. The top 7 scorers have departed, but the Wildcats return Alex Poythress, who missed most of last year with a knee injury, along with Tyler Ulis and Marcus Lee.
Ditto for Duke, a 9/1 pick to repeat right now, as far as impact players from a year ago bidding Durham so long. Again, don't cry for Mike Krzyzewski since he still has plenty of talent around him. The top frosh we'll be seeing for the Blue Devils are guard Derryck Thornton and Brandon Ingram out on the wing. Duke also returns sophomore guard Grayson Allen and senior forward Amile Jefferson, but will need freshman Chase Jeter to quickly become a force down low.
Jayhawks, Spartans Also Square Off In Champions Classic
Two more teams near the top of the NCAA basketball futures odds that will participate in the early Champions Classic are the Kansas Jayhawks and Michigan State Spartans. Those two tangle in Chicago after Kentucky and Duke battle.
Until they don't win the Big 12 for a few years in a row, consider the Jayhawks the team to beat in the conference. Bill Self's crew, fetching 12/1 right now to win a fourth national title, has won the Big 12 regular season crown 13 years running but failed to convert in the postseason tourney the last two years. The Jayhawks lost top scorer Perry Ellis, but return junior guard Frank Mason III plus landed forward Cheick Diallo on the recruiting trail, Diallo earning MVP honors at this year's McDonald's All-American Game.
Michigan State, 22/1 on the futures odds, isn't getting a lot of respect in its own conference with some publications picking the Spartans fourth in the Big Ten. Senior guard Denzel Valentine returns to play alongside transfer Eron Harris to form a dynamic backcourt duo for Tom Izzo.
Big Ten Might Be Deeper Than Ever Before
One reason the Spartans aren't as highly touted is the depth the Big Ten has to offer this year, which could make for a very physical and tough conference schedule for all of them. Maryland is making noise after a successful first season in the B1G, and Mark Turgeon's group ranks right up there with Duke at 9/1 on the NCAA basketball futures.
Michigan is 35/1 to win it all, and has a couple of early tests vs. Xavier and UConn, the latter in the Battle for Atlantis tourney during Thanksgiving. Wisconsin (75/1) lost a lot from back-to-back teams that lost in the finals, but Bo Ryan always seems to exceed expectations with his disciplined teams. Ohio State (100/1) will be trying to adjust to a new backcourt after bidding adieu to D'Angelo Russell and Shannon Scott, with the Buckeyes facing Memphis over Thanksgiving weekend and then taking on Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Make certain to keep checking back at SBR leading up to the regular season tip-off to catch more team and conference previews plus college basketball free picks.