NCAAB College Basketball Futures: Do You Like Kansas or Houston?

By Chris Hughes   January 22, 2023 

NCAAB College Basketball Futures: Do You Like Kansas or Houston?

With college football behind us, our attention turns to the college basketball landscape–and naturally, the futures odds to win the national championship at the Final Four!

Since many people don’t start getting into college basketball until this time of year when conference play heats up, to catch you up on some of the big storylines:

  • Preseason top-fives North Carolina and Kentucky have struggled mightily.
  • Kansas is in good position to be the first repeat champions in 15 years.
  • Houston is living up to preseason expectations and could win the Final Four in its home city.

First, let’s take a look at the best odds for college basketball futures before we look at the top storylines.

2022-23 College Basketball Futures Odds

Here are the top teams expected to contend for the national championship at the Final Four in Houston, along with the best odds at various online sportsbooks.

Houston Cougars+600 (PointsBet)+900
Kansas Jayhawks+1000 (BetMGM)+1100
Alabama Crimson Tide+1000 (Caesars)+5000
UCLA Bruins+1200 (BetMGM)+1700
Purdue Boilermakers+1500 (Caesars)+4500
Tennessee Volunteers+1600 (FanDuel)+3000
Gonzaga Bulldogs+2400 (FanDuel)+900
UConn Huskies+2400 (FanDuel)+8000
Arizona Wildcats+2500 (DraftKings)+2500

Where are North Carolina and Kentucky on the Futures Odds List?

Two teams absent from this list are preseason co-favorite North Carolina (+900 then; +4500 now) and Kentucky (+1000 then; +5000 now).

After reaching the national championship game as an 8-seed last year, the Tar Heels had a rough patch in late November and early December, losing four in a row. The Heels have steadied the ship a bit since then by winning eight of their last 10. Remember that they got hot in March last year and would’ve been champions if it wasn’t for blowing a 16-point halftime lead over Kansas, and many players from that team are back and can do it again.

At Kentucky, fans are up in arms over a slow start that followed last year’s first-round NCAA Tournament loss to 15-seed St. Peter’s.

But after a 3-4 stretch, the Wildcats upset No. 5 Tennessee on the road this past weekend. With defending National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe, the Wildcats have the talent to win every time they’re on the court, but it’s a matter of whether they can do so.

With the struggles of those blue bloods out of the way, let’s look at the favorites for the national championship. We’ll get to value picks on the longshots in a future article.

College Basketball Futures: Odds for Houston and Kansas

The Houston Cougars started the season as co-favorites with North Carolina and Gonzaga and have seen their odds drop from +900 to +650 after living up to expectations so far. Houston is 18-1–losing only to current No. 4 Alabama by six points in December–and is ranked No. 1 in the nation. The Cougars also passed their other tough non-conference test by winning 69-61 at then-No. 2 Virginia.

The knock on the Cougars moving forward will be a rather weak American Athletic Conference that doesn’t feature another ranked team. The next-best teams in the league by record are 13-5 Memphis and UCF.

Houston is taking advantage of Marcus Sasser’s return from injury last year. He’s averaging 16.9 points per game and is coming off a career-best 31 against South Florida last week.

Houston, however, has a solid NCAA tournament history over the past two years. They reached the Final Four in 2021. Last season, they upset 1-seed Arizona before bowing out to Villanova in the “Elite 8” round last year. This April, the Final Four is in Houston, giving the Cougars some extra motivation to cut down the nets in their home city. It nearly happened in 2010 with Butler playing in the final in Indianapolis, but it’s an otherwise rare feat. The last time a team won the championship in an area close to their home was in 1988, when Kansas won the national title at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri.

Houston’s Next Game

Can Kansas Repeat as College Basketball National Champs?

Kansas fell to No. 13 Kansas State on the road and No. 14 TCU at home this week, which marked the second and third losses on the season for the Jayhawks. Those losses are bound to happen in the Big 12 where 6 of the 10 teams are currently ranked in the top-25. Last year, Kansas went through a rough 6-4 patch in the middle of conference play, but went on to win their final 11 games, including the Big 12 Championship and head coach Bill Self’s second national title.

The Jayhawks’ other loss this season was to Tennessee on a neutral floor, but their resume also includes wins over Duke, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Iowa State so far

Kansas’ Next Game

Kansas is a battle tested team that plays tough opponents in a tough conference every season (Kansas ranks No. 1 in strength of schedule). While Houston has flashed over the last few years, you may find Kansas more trustworthy because of their strength of opponents.

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