As today is Christmas Eve, there are no NCAA Men’s Basketball games on the schedule for today. Tomorrow on Christmas Day, we only have a small handful of Big 10 games on the docket. But just because we don’t have many games to bet on in the next couple of days, doesn’t mean that we can’t have action!
A quick glance at the college basketball future’s market shows me several bets that stand out as being high value. Many of these leagues have already started conference play, and it appears the books haven’t updated their odds to reflect some of these team’s hot or slow starts. A perfect example of that comes to us from the SEC, where the 1-5 Kentucky Wildcats are still priced as the co-favorites in the league!
In this article, we are going to take a look at the future’s board and give you five bets that show high value, that you are going to want to make right now. Let’s get started with the SEC, as we take a look at the Tennessee Volunteers!
Tennessee Volunteers +200 To Win The SEC
- Record: (6-0)
- Ap Poll Rank: 8th
- Kenpom: 8th
- Top 100 Wins: 2
- Top 50 Wins: 1
- Offense Rank: 25th
- Defense Rank: 5th
- SOS: 244th
Rick Barnes has his Tennessee Volunteers playing high level basketball right now. Tennessee is undefeated at 6-0, and they have quality wins over Cincinnati and Colorado. The Vols are just one year removed from being a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament, and making a run to the Sweet 16, and right now, they look like the class of the SEC.
It is easy to point to their weak strength of schedule or the fact that Tennessee has yet to play a game outside of Knoxville, to poke holes in their resume, but Tennessee absolutely passes the eye test, and with some of the other teams that were expected to compete at the top of the league struggling, the Vols are the team to beat down south. We already mentioned that Kentucky is priced as the co-favorites in the league, coming in just behind the Vols, and that is laughable as Coach Cal’s Wildcats have been dreadfully bad.
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) December 24, 2020
Other teams that were expected to be strong this year that have struggled out of the gate in the SEC include Alabama and Auburn, with each team already suffering multiple losses. LSU and Florida have already both tasted defeat in the non-conference despite playing soft schedules, and that leaves Tennessee as the only team expected to finish in the top-tier of the league this year still undefeated.
Kenpom currently has the Vols projected to go 13-5 in league play, which would have them winning the league by a comfortable two games over LSU, Ole Miss, and Florida. The data loves Tennessee as they are ranked 8th by Kenpom, and no other SEC team is currently in the top-20.
This team does all of the little things right, and that is a reflection of a great head coach. They hit their free throws at a nearly 80% clip, they pass the ball well, they don’t turn the ball over, and they can shoot from both the perimeter and inside.
This is a bit of a buy high spot, which I normally don’t love, but looking ahead on the schedule, it shows me that the Vols play at Missouri, then home against Alabama and Arkansas before three games against the bottom half of the league with Texas A&M, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt. They are projected to win each of those games, and even if they start out by winning five out of those next six games, the odds on them are going to plummet. Get your action in on the Vols now, while the price is right!
Virginia Cavaliers +500 To Win The ACC
- Record: (4-1)
- Ap Poll Rank: 16th
- Kenpom: 14th
- Top 100 Wins: 0
- Top 50 Wins: 0
- Offense Rank: 53rd
- Defense Rank: 4th
- SOS: 257th
I can’t remember a time that the ACC was ever more wide open than it is right now. Shockingly, no team survived the non-conference schedule unblemished in the ACC this year, with the exception of Wake Forrest, who has only played two games due to Corona Virus delays and who’s best win came over 318th ranked Longwood.
Duke has lost twice, both times at home. North Carolina has three early-season losses, including a bad one to NC State. Louisville lost by 40-points in Madison to the Wisconsin Badgers. Florida State lost at home to UCF by double-digits in a game where they were heavily favored. The list goes on and on, of good teams from the ACC that just haven’t played as well as we all thought that they would.
Virginia has had a similarly rough start, as they have played a weak schedule and somehow managed to lose to a very mediocre at best San Francisco team on a neutral floor. But despite the lack of quality victories and the head-scratching loss to the Dons, I have still liked what I have seen out of the Cavs. Tony Bennet’s team is once again playing his trademark brand of defense, and that tells me that this team is going to be hard to beat in league play.
— Virginia Men’s Basketball (@UVAMensHoops) December 17, 2020
The Hoos just don’t lose in Charlottesville very often and have made a habit of winning ACC titles under Bennet. Going back to 2014, no team has won more ACC regular-season titles than Virginia’s four, and I am shocked to see several teams priced ahead of them right now.
Want to hear another stat that you will likely find shocking? Duke, the current odds-on favorite to win the league title, hasn’t won it in a decade! That’s right, Blue Devils fans, the Dukies haven’t won the ACC regular-season title since 2012, and with two early home losses telling me that Cameron is all that crazy without the Craizes in the stands, I don’t think they are going to snap that losing streak this year.
We have seen over the years that this defensive first Cavaliers team under Tony Bennet can occasionally lay an egg and lose a game that they shouldn’t, if the other team can get hot. Does anybody remember UMBC? The Cavs famously lost as a one seed for the first time in NCAA tournament history a couple of years ago.
But we have also seen that this suffocating D leads to a lot of wins as well, and Cavaliers fans will quickly remind you that after blowing it as a one seed, that they more than avenged that loss the following year when they cut down the nets at the Final Four and took home the national title.
— Virginia Men’s Basketball (@UVAMensHoops) October 24, 2019
The ACC is up for grabs right now, and I love a play on Virginia at +500. Tony Bennet has proven too many times in recent years that his brand of basketball leads to a lot of wins in the ACC, and I am going to lean on that experience and history when I make this play.
Saint Louis Billikens +135 To Win The A-10
- Record: (7-1)
- Ap Poll Rank: 28th
- Kenpom: 32nd
- Top 100 Wins: 2
- Top 50 Wins: 2
- Offense Rank: 29th
- Defense Rank: 35th
- SOS: 229th
If you haven’t watched the Saint Louis Billiken’s play a game yet this year, you are missing out! This team is an absolute blast to watch play as they love to jack it up from all over the floor, and they can absolutely knock them down from anywhere. The Billikens are 12th in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage at a sizzling hot 41% as a team.
They pass the ball well and assist on most buckets. Their 19.5 assists per game is one of the highest totals of any team, and they don’t turn it over much either, as their assist to turnover ratio is ranked 18th. There really isn’t a weakness on this Saint Louis team on offense, and surprisingly, they play great defense as well.
Win #️⃣7️⃣ pic.twitter.com/dmovTw6l04
— SLU Men’s Basketball (@SaintLouisMBB) December 24, 2020
Kenpom has Saint Louis as the 35th best defense in the country in terms of efficiency, and they force the longest possessions of any team in the A-10. This is a well-rounded group that is a lot better than most people think they are. The wins over LSU and NC State tell me that this team can compete with the big boys from the power conferences, and the loss on the road at Minnesota wasn’t a bad one, as the Gophers are 7-1 and playing well right now.
When you look at the rest of the A-10, it really is a two-horse race this year. Dayton is reeling after the loss of superstar Obi Toppin last year, and VCU looks awfully shaky with a couple of early season losses and some very tightly contested wins over bad teams like James Madison, who the Rams only beat by a point. That leaves just the Billikens and the Richmond Spiders as the teams to beat in the A-10.
Travis Ford: “It was a good win tonight for us, but there are some areas we need to get better at heading into conference… We got to flip the switch into the second season.”@SaintLouisMBB #Billikens pic.twitter.com/TWFXqEFrKz
— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) December 24, 2020
The Spiders got on everybody’s radar when they knocked off Kentucky, but now that it looks like the Wildcats are just way overrated, that win isn’t looking nearly as impressive. Since beating Kentucky, Richmond has lost twice, including an awful loss at home to Hofstra in their last game. I’m not sure a league champion in any legitimate league is ever going to lose at home to Hofstra, and that makes the Billikens my favorite to win the A-10.
I guess the books are still looking at Richmond’s win over Kentucky as a real one, as the Spiders are the prohibitive favorites at -110. These two teams don’t match up for another month, and they meet in the final week of the regular season as well, and the league title could very well come down to the game in late February. Where is that one being played? In St. Louis, of course.
Saint Louis To Win The A-10
Kansas Jayhawks +190 To Win The Big 12
- Record: (8-1)
- Ap Poll Rank: 3rd
- Kenpom: 6th
- Top 100 Wins: 4
- Top 50 Wins: 4
- Offense Rank: 13th
- Defense Rank: 9th
- SOS: 22nd
The Kansas Jayhawks own the Big 12. Period, end of story. Kansas won an NCAA record 14 consecutive Big 12 titles before giving it up in 2019. What did Bill Self’s team do for an encore in 2020 after ending one of the most impressive streaks in college basketball history? They started another streak by winning the league title outright last year and finishing the season ranked as the nation’s number one team.
This year the Jayhawks are continuing to impress as they are off to a 7-1 start, with the best collection of wins of any team in the country not named Gonzaga. Speaking of the Zags, the only loss on this Kansas resume came at the hands of the top-ranked Bulldogs, and after seeing how easily Gonzaga has been able to obliterate their competition, I am certainly not holding that one against them.
“That starting 5…They put on a show the second half. That was impressive.”
• 🎥 𝗥𝗲𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲 #𝟯 𝗞𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗮𝘀 𝘃𝘀 #𝟳 𝗪𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗩𝗶𝗿𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗮 • pic.twitter.com/mwv2jJk73z
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) December 23, 2020
Kansas has top-15 wins over Creighton, Texas Tech, and West Virginia. The win in Lubbock against the Red Raiders is sure to be a huge one in this title race, and with Kansas already managing to beat two of the best teams the Big 12 has to offer, they have a head start over the Baylor Bears for the regular season title.
Baylor is really good, and my heart breaks that the game between the Zags and Baylor got canceled because that would have told us a lot about both of those teams. But looking back on the history of this league, the Bears have a total of zero league titles going back to 1997. That pales in comparison to the 19 the Jayhawks have in that same timeframe. The rest of the league combined only has 10 league titles. Betting against the Jayhawks in the Big 12 is always a bad idea.
The Jayhawks and the Bears play on the final day of the regular season, and the title just might ride on the outcome of that game. Where is that game being played you at? In Lawrence, Kansas, of course. Take the Jayhawks in his one, as they are probably the second-best team in the nation and show outrageous value getting dog money to win a league that they dominate year in and year out.
BYU Cougars +700 To Win The WCC
- Record: (9-2)
- Ap Poll Rank: 36th
- Kenpom: 66th
- Top 100 Wins: 4
- Top 50 Wins: 1
- Offense Rank: 70th
- Defense Rank: 76th
- SOS: 115th
Some of you might be reading this right now and saying to yourselves, wait, didn’t he just say that Gonzaga was the best team in the country? Then why would he like the BYU Cougars to win the WCC? Well, hear me out here. The West Coast Conference isn’t very good this year. You have Gonzaga and BYU, and then you have everybody else.
If you earn a season split of the league title, you get to call yourself league champions and cash tickets for anybody that backed you. I think BYU has a reasonable shot of doing just that, for two major reasons. One, I don’t see many losses on this Cougars conference schedule. BYU could conceivably run the table in the league against all the other teams, making the two games with the Zags basically the entire race.
— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) December 24, 2020
And two, and more importantly, BYU seems to always find a way to play Gonzaga tough. Since joining the league several years ago, the Cougars have six conference wins over Gonzaga. That is far more than any other team in the WCC. Last year BYU beat Gonzaga late in the season, despite the Zags being ranked as the number one team in the country. The Cougars beat Gonzaga back in 2017 as well, the only team to do so in the regular season for a Bulldogs team that went to the Final Four.
The last two times BYU has beaten Gonzaga, Mark Few’s team has been ranked number one. If they beat them again this year, they will likely have to once again beat the nation’s top team. In the last ten years, BYU has beaten Gonzaga at least once in seven of those seasons. 17% of all of the Bulldog’s losses in the last decade have come at the hands of the Cougars.
If any team can give them a run for their money in the WCC, it is this BYU team, and they show plenty of value at +700 for a longshot play. The Bulldogs and the Cougars play on the final day of the regular season for both teams. Where is that game being held you ask? Well not to sound like a broken record here, but in Provo, of course.
The odds in these regular-season league title races can, and do, change nearly every day. One big road win, or one costly home loss, can shift these odds dramatically. If you want to take advantage of the value, you need to make these plays now, as, by the start of the New Year, they are going to look a lot different. Thanks for reading and make sure you swing by TheSportsGeek’s college hoops betting page, where we bring you free daily betting picks each and every day of the NCAA Men’s Basketball season!