The start of the 2020-2021 college basketball season is upon us, and while certain games have been cancelled and the Ivy League has packed it up for the season, it looks like the overwhelming majority of the country is prepared to power through and play the season. In honor of college basketball being back, here are the five best futures bets you can make right now.
1. West Virginia to win the Big 12 (+525)
If you can get a team that’s in the national top 15 to win their conference at +525, that’s guaranteed to be a great value. While conference power Baylor returns the core of a team that won 23 straight games, and Kansas has restocked with talent, the Mountaineers have arguably the best frontcourt in the conference in Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver. Tshiebwe, a sophomore, averaged 11.2 points and 9.3 rebounds as a freshman and appears ready to jump another level this year. In addition to Tshiebwe, Culver also averaged close to a double-double. This could be one of the best teams coach Bob Huggins has had in Morgantown, and a conference title is within the realm of possibility.
2. St. Bonaventure to win the Atlantic 10 (+1000)
Richmond, Saint Louis, and Dayton are essentially tri-favorites in the A10, but the Bonnies look like they can leap all three teams, plus Davidson to take the conference. Longtime coach Mark Schmidt will have all five starters returning in addition to their top bench scorer, something only a few teams in the country can match. The leader of the pack is junior point guard Kyle Lofton who averaged a 14 and 6 last season, and Lofton is joined in the backcourt by Jaren English and Dominick Welsh. The frontcourt stars Osun Osuunniyi, who nearly averaged a double-double, and is one of the nation’s top shot blockers at 2.5 rejections per game. Should the Bonnies be favored to win the conference? Probably not, but the number of +1000 is too juicy to pass up.
3. Boise State to win the MWC (+250)
San Diego State may have gone 30-2 last season, but they lost their star players, while Boise State returns their star, forward Derrick Alston. The senior averaged over 17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists per game last season and should be the serious betting odds favorite to be the MWC player of the year. Alston is joined by fellow big man Abu Kigab, who put up 11.1 ppg last season. The frontcourt is a sure thing, but the Broncos hopes will rest on the development of at least one of their transfers from Arizona, guards Emmanuel Akot and Devonaire Doutrive. Ina conference with three contenders, betting on Leon Rice’s team with the best player seems like a solid value.
4. Stanford to win the Pac-12 (+600)
The Cardinal return four starters plus one of the nation’s best recruits to a team that won 20 games last season. UCLA is generally considered the best team in the conference, and Oregon and Arizona State are in the same class as Stanford, but freshman phenom Ziaire Williams could be the biggest difference maker in a wide open conference. The Cardinal will be led by senior forward Oscar da Silva, who averaged a 15 and 6 as a junior, while fellow forward Spencer Jones is one of the top shooting bigs in the nation, drilling over 2.5 threes per game as a freshman. The guard duo of Daejon Davis and Bryce Wills should also both become double-digit scorers this season. The headline here is Ziaire Williams, a 6’8” forward who is Stanford’s best recruit in years. Williams is widely considered to be a one-and-done type of player, but it would be sweet if that one included a Pac-12 title. The bet here assumes there’s a legitimate chance that Williams is one of the two or three best players in the conference, which seems realistic for +600 moneyline odds.
5. Tennessee to win the national championship (+3500)
The Vols only went 17-14 last season but Rick Barnes’ squad returns four starters, a pair of top recruits and two excellent transfers. John Fulkerson and Yves Pons will make up one of the most fearsome frontcourts in the nation, While Santiago Vescovi and the wonderfully named Josiah Jordan-James performed admirably as the starting guards as freshmen. The X factor in placing this longshot bet, per the college basketball odds, is you are banking on one of the freshman super recruits Jaden Springer or Keon Johnson, becoming a star right off the bat. The depth here is also special though; transfer E.J. Anosike averaged a double-double at Sacred Heart. While the Vols seem far from being the nation’s best team, you won’t regret throwing a few bucks at them to win it all.