WEST VIRGINIA 28-1
As the season begins, there are a handful of teams hovering around the 10/1 mark to win a national championship, according to https://www.vegasinsider.com/nfl/odds/futures/. Those chalky teams were Gonzaga, Villanova, Iowa, Baylor and Virginia. One team is notably missing from the sub 20/1 category. And that’s the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia. When assessing a college basketball team, I like to look first at the point guard. Like a quarterback in football and a starting pitcher in baseball, the point guard should normally dictate the betting line. With West Virginia, although I don’t have a huge sample size to get familiar with one point guard per se, the depth of this roster is overwhelming on paper. And the factor that is overwhelming to the eyes is the mountainous combination in the post. The team’s blog went as far as referring to Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe as twin towers. Although I wouldn’t go as far as harkoning images of Tim Duncan and David Robinson, I would say that Oscar Tshiebwe compares favorably to a young Karl Malone (and is understandably on that watch list). The size, strength and quickness is there. Also I’ve heard multiple interviews this preseason with coach Huggins and players where a national championship is obviously spoken about as a realistic goal. And Huggy Bear isn’t exactly the type of personality to hype up bold predictions. He went as far as to describe to Jon Rothstein on his college basketball podcast…how amazing it would be to travel from small town to small town across West Virginia to let fans touch the championship trophy. Talk about “Country roads, take me home to the place I belong!”
It’s ironic that Houston’s college basketball team mimics the design of its pro basketball team. In fact, I take that back, the Cougars might have more size down low. But the Cougars definitely have an abundance of scoring and athleticism at the guard spot and wings. Once upon a time, Junior guard Quentin Grimes was college basketball’s top 10 recruit coming out of high school. His skills speak for themselves on tape. Add the speed, scoring and athleticism of numbers 0 through number 3, literally, as Macus Sasser, Jamal Shead, Caleb Mills, and Dejon Jarreau are all a nightmare to guard. This team won’t be 50-1 for long. In fact, I’ve seen them drop already in some books to 25 to 1.