These college basketball teams are high value picks with the current odds to win a national championship.
BY MATTY D.
This has been a volatile year for college basketball’s top 25. After the long-standing favorite of Houston, numbers 2 through 10 have been a game of musical chairs. The Houston Cougars currently sit at 6-1 odds to win it all.
This article outlines my favorite value picks for current odds to win it all.
#5 Florida Atlantic 200-1 to Win NCAA Basketball Tournament
The Owls have come out of nowhere, so if you’re scratching your head, welcome to my list. The Owls haunted the Florida Gators and their high hopes for a tournament caliber year by dominating them in Gainesville. Florida Atlantic continued their momentum into conference play where they’ve beaten tournament-relevant programs like UAB, North Texas and Western Kentucky. They are now unbelievably ranked 21st overall in the nation and somehow still 200-1 to win it all. The Owls can knock down the three. FAU’s bench can score — its two top scorers come off the bench. They rank among the top 10 teams in the nation in scoring and have a perimeter surrounded with combo guards who can create their own shots. Take your shot by considering this heavy underdog for at least a Final Four ticket. The Conference USA teams are always dangerous in March Madness (think Middle Tennessee and North Texas).
#4 Arkansas Razorbacks 50-1 to Win NCAA Basketball Tournament
This will be the first of two SEC teams on the list. If you are a futures shopper you should consider investing in the conference itself to win it all. You might even find a 4-1 or 5-1 steal and suddenly be invested in all the high level teams — Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, the list goes on.
As for Arkansas, the roster has turned over completely, but the identity remains the same. The Hogs defend hard, play fast, and challenge at the rim on both ends. This is a better team on the defensive end, ranking in kenpom’s top 20. The Mitchell brothers offer some size and athleticism down low. Jordan Walsh is really fun to watch with his Dennis Rodman-like tenacity. The team is loaded with McDonald’s All-Americans (three current, one more committed). If you are reading mock NBA draft boards and like this team because of prospect Nick Smith Jr., don’t. Smith has not been a consistent piece of this lineup. That said, if he emerges into the rotation during the start of the tournament itself, it might be time to jump on the bandwagon. That might be a guy, and this might be a team, looking to improve its stock greatly on the national stage.
#3 College of Charleston 300-1 to Win NCAA Basketball Tournament
This one honestly made me do a double-take. I can’t believe College of Charleston is being disrespected in this way. If 300-1 is too rich for your blood (or too thrifty in this case), then you should at least consider CoC at 60-1 or 70-1 to make a magical run to a Final Four. This is a tournament team. The Cougars have cracked the AP Top 25 a few weeks ago and have stuck there in the 18-25 range. Even thought they play in a mid-major conference, they may not need to win their conference tournament championship. C of C has been totally running their league opponents out of the gym. They are consistently winning by 15, 20, 25 points or more. The are undefeated in the Colonial Athletic Conference and only have one loss to their name at 21-1. It has wins over Kent State, Virginia Tech, Davidson and Colorado State. Its only loss is to UNC. Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has them slotted as a 10 seed. Even if they lose one or two games in their conference, you could easily see this squad as a play-in-game 11 or 12 seed. Head coach Pat Kelsey has come over from Winthrop where he has brought his renowned conditioning and winning ways. The Cougars are deep, tall, can shoot, sprint to the ball, and play a ton of guys. A recent box score showed Kelsey playing 13 people. I didn’t even know that was possible. In that game, 10 players scored and 10 players played 9 minutes or more. Kelsey gives his guys no excuses not to run to a loose ball, hustle to a rebound, and get out in transition. The makeup of this team is perfectly suited for a tournament situation. If a 6 or 7 seed overlooks them, they’ll at least get the attention of the 2 or 3 seed in the next matchup.
#2: Creighton Bluejays 65-1 to Win NCAA Basketball Tournament
Creighton’s futures tickets have been selling at a discount since a stretch when they lost 5 of 6 to start December. But when you look closer at the details, you see that this is still a Final Four caliber team. Creighton started the season ranked in the Top 10 of the AP Top 25. The Big 12 and SEC get a lot of hype as the best conferences in basketball. Well, Creighton beat Texas Tech (Big 12) and Arkansas (SEC) right before that losing streak started. And, the losing streak could certainly be attributed to losing their starting center, Ryan Kalkbrenner, to injury. Once Kalkbrenner returned, Creighton went 4-2 immediately. The loses they suffered during that rocky stretch included respectable losses to probably tournament teams. They lost to Arizona, BYU, Texas and Marquette in that stretch. This gives you an idea of how aggressively this team was scheduling. They had high hopes since challenging eventual champion Kansas in last year’s NCAA tournament.
Creighton was 65-1 to win it all on the FanDuel Sportsbook app on January 25, 2023.
Creighton’s athletic wings Arthur Kaluma and Trey Alexander set the tone for a stellar defensive squad. South Dakota State transfer Baylor Scheierman is a strong guard who can score at all three levels. He was arguably the most sought after transfer in America this offseason. And sophomore point guard Ryan Nembhard is a poised point guard who can control and take over games. Despite the turbulence, Creighton is still projected as we publish this as a tournament team. You can buy them at half off their 30-1 starting price when the season started.
Fun fact: Creighton has one of several sons of NBA stars playing college hoops right now.
Click here for our full list of sons of NBA players playing college basketball in the NCAA 2022-2023 season.
#1: Auburn Tigers 80-1 to Win NCAA Basketball Tournament
One team has quietly been lying in the tall grass ready to pounce. The Auburn Tigers are sitting at 100-1 to win it all in late January. This team has consistently been in the middle of the AP Top 25. Currently, they are ranked 16th in the nation. To put that into mathematical perspective, here are two teams in the same neighborhood in the futures marketplace. The Memphis Tigers are currently also 100-1 on the FanDuel Sportsbook app. However, those Tigers haven’t even received one vote in this week’ AP Top 25. The Ohio State Buckeyes are given more respect in the futures market. They are listed at 80-1. However, those Buckeyes only received three AP votes for the Top 25 this week.
Auburn was 80-1 to win it all on the FanDuel app on January 25, 2023 and 60-1 on DraftKings.
From a basketball perspective, Auburn is fun to watch as an aggressive defensive bunch. They just went into LSU and kicked their ass. The Tigers register on most of the defensive metrics. They have two veteran guards in K.D. Johnson and Wendell Green who value the ball and make winning plays. Senior forward Jaylin Williams has elevated his game and is contributing 11 points and 5 rebounds per game. Morehead State transfer Johni Broome is a wildly talented power forward who very well could pop on the national scene during the tournament. He has sticky grip hands and showcases great footwork in the post. Broome actually reminds you of a young Chris Bosh when you watch him. (That’s the Toronto Raptors version of Bosh, before he migrated to three point territory). Coach Bruce Pearl has this team in great condition and can play in waves that tire you out. Pearl took a similarly undervalued Auburn squad to the Final Four in 2019. That team was roughly 60-1 or 70-1 as the tournament began, depending on which marketplace you bought from. If you are going with this pick this year, also consider a ticket to make the Final Four at somewhere in the 20-1 territory.