Schedule critical in CBB futures bets


Last week we discussed the importance of taking a positive approach to college basketball futures betting. That is, focus on playing plus numbers instead of acting too soon on the presumptive favorite (at a minus price) for a wager that won’t be decided until months from the time it is made.


What happened to San Diego State last week, falling twice to Utah State, demonstrates how risky it can be to take a team at a minus number in January for a March tournament. 


We suggested last week playing the Aggies at + 600 to win the Mountain West tournament based on that number and a lineup that places them on par with the top two teams, SDSU and Boise State. Recent success and a name far more recognizable to the public made the Aztecs the odds-on favorites to win the regular-season title and postseason tournament. 


Those two USU wins and SDSU losing Matt Mitchell for an undetermined period have altered the dynamics in the MWC and make any ticket for the Aztecs at a minus price feel like a burden.  


The Aggies’ 57-45 and 64-59 wins reversed the odds. Now USU is the slight favorite at + 145 and SDSU falls back to + 200, according to DraftKings. We liked the Aggies at + 600, but at the present number — a 22% reduction off our original recommendation — it’s time to hit the brakes and continue to attack futures with timing as an essential component. 


Look at making futures bets with the season schedule in mind, just as it is done with daily wagers. Sometimes the decision about making bets is better done with timing, not money, as the currency. 


Buy On The Dip 


What you just read has SDSU on the dip, but stay away for now. Mitchell’s right knee injury isn’t as bad as first thought, but it will place the senior on the shelf until February. There should still be more dip with the Aztecs since they will struggle to score without Mitchell’s 15 points per game. The Aztecs’ current + 200 will get higher as Utah State and Boise State start a favorable stretch of games. 


The changing fortunes of UConn make the Huskies ripe for a dip play. Last week the Huskies were riding high by cracking the top 25 and getting some national attention — not good for buying on the dip. That wave ebbed after top player James Bouknight needed elbow surgery and no date was offered for the return of top freshman Andre Jackson from his fractured wrist. 


Then came the 74-70 surprise loss to St. John’s Monday night when the Huskies really needed Bouknight to hold off a late Red Storm charge. Don’t let one game in January alter futures plays; in fact, use it to your advantage.


The Huskies are + 455 on DraftKings to win the Big East tournament, making it worthy enough of a play even for a team currently without two key players. 


Going with the Huskies is a concurrent move against Big East favorite Villanova (-265). The Wildcats are one of the top five teams in the nation, but they have been sidelined because of COVID-19 issues since late December. So far this year, teams with long layoffs have struggled. Even as good as the Wildcats are, they are entering a vulnerable period. 


Villanova losses bring more equity to the top of the Big East odds board. Get ahead of a possible Villanova dip and consider at UConn and Creighton + 400, also on a dip after a loss Saturday at Butler, for what could be their best remaining prices. 


The Big Dipper 


Nowhere is the dip more prominent than in the Big Ten. 


The best conference in the country, possibly on its way to a record 12 tournament bids among 14 programs, has had numerous teams make cases for being the best of the best. This week it’s Michigan, and the Wolverines have charged up to + 300 at BetMGM to win the conference tournament and + 900 for the national championship. 


Even after a weekend loss to Minnesota, the Wolverines seem like a team primed for a conference title and then a Final Four run. The Big Ten teams are going to beat the hell out of each other every week, and who is on top now isn’t necessarily the team to play. 


To win the Big Ten on BetMGM, Michigan is followed by the + 350 troika of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. They are very good teams with little variance in terms of talent and odds, so there’s nothing of value.


Those prices make it hard to play multiple teams in the same tournament since it basically eliminates hedging possibilities. 


So there are two ways to approach Big Ten tournament future plays:


— Wait three or four weeks until conference seeding becomes clearer and then go to the window with money in hand. In late February, bettors can go against the public’s recency bias and find one of the elite-level teams lurking in the + 300 range. That number plays much better when the tournament is just a couple of weeks away. 


— Or if you want a higher risk/reward, get a Michigan State ticket at + 850. An early January loss to Purdue and multiple postponements have removed the Spartans from much of the conversation. Out of sight and out of mind can be profitable since this is the same team that many in the media declared as the preseason favorite. 


A Tom Izzo squad in March with a + 850 payoff for a tournament with little difference among the top 10 teams is a tremendous asset.


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