NCAA Basketball Futures: Big Ten's Spartan Existence Coming To An End
The college basketball odds haven't gone the way of a Big Ten school in almost two decades, but the oddsmakers believe that's all about to change.
Bovada is one of many leading sportsbooks that is touting the Michigan State Spartans to be the team cutting down the nets when March Madness concludes in early April.
The Spartans were the last NCAA men's basketball champions from the Big Ten when they beat the Florida Gators 89-76 in the 2000 final. Since then, the Big Ten is 0-for-7 in NCAA Final appearances. The Indiana Hoosiers lost in 2002, Illinois in 2005 and Ohio State in 2007.
The Spartans finished second in 2009, while their arch rivals the Michigan Wolverines were NCAA final runners-up in 2013 and 2018. Wisconsin also came home second in 2015.
- 01The Favorite: Michigan State Spartans (+650)
- 02The Contender: Kentucky Wildcats (+750)
- 03The Longshot: Florida Gators (+1600)
- 04Who Will Win NCAA Player Of The Year?
The Favorite: Michigan State Spartans (+650)
The Spartans got to the Final Four a year ago. With senior guard Cassius Winston, quite likely the best player in the country, and an extremely experienced supporting cast to work with him, Michigan State will be very tough to beat.
Add to that mix perhaps the best coach in all of college basketball in Tom Izzo, a guy who always seems to get every ounce of ability out of his players, and are you going to bet against Sparty in the NCAA basketball betting odds?
Michigan State has depth. The Spartans can score the basketball. They've got veteran depth and size. Perhaps they could use a little more depth on the front line. Their bigs are a bit young but Izzo can counter that by going with a smaller lineup and ramping up the pace. That's why he's a Hall of Fame coach.
The Contender: Kentucky Wildcats (+750)
There's also a title drought ongoing in the SEC, and particularly, in Kentucky. There's only two seasons in the land of Wildcats - basketball season, and waiting for basketball season. And Kentucky fans don't like waiting.
They've been on hold now for seven years since the Wildcats won the 2011-12 title. Kentucky's 2013-14 loss to Connecticut marked the most recent appearance by an SEC school in the NCAA title game.
The good news is the Kentucky looks to be right there again in 2019-20 in the Vegas odds NCAA basketball. The Wildcats brought in another bumper crop of freshemen. In Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky might just suit up the most dominant defensive backcourt in the NCAA.
The Wildcats will also have a spectacular perimeter shooting game. Like Michigan State, Kentucky coach John Calipari's roster contains a wealth of smaller, lightning fast types. He could opt to go small ball as well to spread out the floor and open up their outside shooting. It's never a bad idea to consider a wager on Kentucky in the NCAA odds.
The Longshot: Florida Gators (+1600)
One of the biggest moves in terms of the NCAA basketball odds to win the championship came when the Florida Gators landed frontcourt power Kerry Blackshear from Virginia Tech, the hottest available grad transfer of the offseason.
He's an All-American talent who spurned SEC rivals Kentucky and Tennesee for the Gators. Arkansas, Texas and Texas A&M were also bidding for the 6-10 forward.
With that one move, Florida went from a good team with an almost-certain NCAA Tournament berth to a legitimate hopeful to win it all in the NCAA basketball betting odds.
Last season, Blackshear averaged 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting 50.8 percent overall and 33.3 percent from three-point range.
THE FLORIDA GATORS WILL WIN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP...in basketball— Cameron Magruder (@ScooterMagruder) November 2, 2019
Tre Mann is a five-star point guard who can shoot the lights out. Incoming freshman Scottie Lewis is a 6-foot-5 wing who is anticipated to be a one-and-done lottery pick. Sophomore guard Andrew Nembhard was second in the SEC in assist rate as a freshman.
Coach Mike White has taken his Gators to the NCAA Tournament three times in four years. They went to the Elite Eight in 2017 and won a game last year as a #10 seed. The Gators are poised to pull off much greater upsets this season.
Who Will Win NCAA Player Of The Year?
Cassius Winston is that rarity among NCAA stars, a senior who spurned leaving school early to enter the NBA Draft in order to help his team reach the greatest of heights. As a junior last season, he he averaged 18.8 points and 7.5 assists. He's the most experienced and proven performer among the elite NCAA players.
Listed as the +140 chalk in Bovada's 2020 Naismith Player of the Year Odds, another factor that works in Winston's favor is his ability to take his performance to another level in the most important games of the season.
Louisville forward Jordan Nwora (+200) enjoyed a stellar sophomore season with 17 points and 7.6 rebounds. He presents matchup problems for opponents due to his excellent jump shot. Guard him with a big and he'll open up lanes for others. Put a smaller player on him and he'll simply shoot over the defense.
The most college ready of the incoming freshmen is North Carolina's Cole Anthony (+550). He has tremendous offensive ability and on a depleted Tar Heels roster, he'll be asked to contribute in a big way from the get go.
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