NCAAB Futures Odds Update Prior to Conference Tournaments: Can UConn Repeat?

By Chris Hughes   March 11, 2024 

NCAAB Futures Odds Update Prior to Conference Tournaments: Can UConn Repeat?

Yes, it’s technically mid-March, but the madness is finally about to pick up. Conference tournaments take place this week. Then after Selection Sunday, it will be time to dance. Sixty-eight teams will have championship dreams, and after last year, who can blame any of them? Saint Peters became the first 15-seed to advance to the Elite Eight round. And we had a Final Four with a 4, two 5s, and a 9 seed.

Connecticut, a 4-seed, climbed back to the top of the mountain after several years of struggles in the American Athletic Conference. A return to the Big East — along with hiring head coach Dan Hurley — brought the Huskies their first national title since 2014.

At 27-3 overall, the Huskies won the Big East regular season title with an 18-2 mark in the conference. They are among the favorites to cut down the nets on April 8 in Phoenix. If they do it, the Huskies will be the first team since the 2006-07 Florida Gators to win the NCAA Tournament in two straight years.

We’re going to look at the Huskies chances along with who else might challenge them in our pre-conference tournament look at the NCAAB futures odds.

NCAAB FUTURES ODDS: Is UConn Poised for a Repeat?

Last year, the Huskies were among several strong Big East teams in the tournament, but the Huskies were the last ones standing. This year, they will be a No. 1 seed instead of a 4. How will they handle the increased expectations?

At first glance, it appears that they will be up for the challenge. Tristen Newton, who was a big inconsistent at this time last year, is now the backbone of the team and a likely first-team All-American.

The Huskies have so much depth. They scored in the transfer portal by getting sharpshooter Cam Spencer from Rutgers, and freshman Stephon Castle is likely an NBA draft lottery pick in June.

UConn also played great competition all year. Non-conference matchups included Kansas (a four-point loss), North Carolina, Texas, and Gonzaga (who was a top-10 team at the time). The Big East has two other top-10 teams in Marquette and Creighton, and the Huskies went 3-1 against those teams in the regular season.

At +500 at many sportsbooks, including Caesars, UConn will be the most trusted team going into the NCAA tournament.

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Is There a Co-Favorite With UConn?

In looking at the odds, two other teams have odds less than +1000 to win the national championship: Purdue (+700 at FanDuel) and Houston (+900 at Bet365).

Now, if you’re a college hoops follower, you’re going to roll your eyes at the Boilermakers. After all, Fairleigh Dickinson University became the second 16-seed in NCAA history to beat a 1-seed when the Knights knocked off Purdue last year.

And the misery extends beyond last year. Matt Painter’s squad lost at 13- and 15-seeds in 2021 and ’22. Ouch.

But remember the only other team that lost to a 16-seed. That was Virginia in 2018. At the time, the Cavaliers had a similar reputation in March as the Boilermakers do now. But the Hoos went on to win it all in 2019. So don’t count out Purdue just on past history alone.

For Houston, it all lined up for them a year ago: a No. 1 seed, a Final Four in their home city, and a veteran team. But the Cougars have gone to the Big 12 and just keep on doing their thing. This year, Houston has become one of the best defensive teams in the country — a trait that will likely suit them well come late March (and possibly early April).

Is There a 2023 UConn Lurking?

Yes, and you don’t have to look far past what the Kansas City Chiefs did in this year’s NFL playoffs to find them — geographically, anyway.

Kansas, the 2022 national champs, were the preseason No. 1 going into the year. But the Jayhawks have struggled in a deep Big 12, putting up a 10-7 mark. Despite that, they entered the final week of the regular season ranked No. 14. Their only non-conference loss was to Marquette, and they are one of three teams to solve UConn this year. Kansas also has Ws over SEC powers Tennessee and Kentucky.

We know March is the time for stars to shine, and Bill Self has two on the floor at the same time. Kevin McCullar and Hunter Dickinson are both putting up 19 points per game, and Dickinson is averaging 11 boards per contest as well.

The Jayhawks have dealt with a target on their back all season in a tough Big 12. They have the mettle and talent for a deep run in March. Best of all? They’re sitting at +3000 at most sportsbooks, including FanDuel.

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