We are still over a month away from the beginning of the College Basketball regular season, but the futures market is actively trying to sort things out in advance of that. Several of the nation’s top programs are currently sitting atop the odds board, but some intriguing sleepers are beginning to emerge as well.
A legitimate case can be made for any of them to cut some nets down as March Madness comes to a close, but the landscape could look awfully different by the time the dance rolls around. As always, the first two months will amount to a feeling out period in advance of conference play, but the picture will continue to come into focus as time moves along.
This year’s Final Four takes place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. While we have a long and winding road to navigate before getting there, that doesn’t mean we can’t start getting a handle on the lay of the land for the upcoming season. Let’s take a look at the current odds to win the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.
*Betting odds provided by: MyBookie.ag
Michigan State Spartans
The Spratans fell in last year’s Final Four to Texas Tech after advancing with a 1-point win over favored Duke. This year’s Michigan State team features juniors Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford and a talented supporting cast. In short, the squad is loaded with talent, so it’s not hard to see why they’re the current favorites to go all the way this time around.
The Wildcats made it to the Elite 8 last year before Auburn sent them on their way. Just four players return from last year’s squad, but this program never has trouble restocking the coffers. John Calipari returns for his 11th season with a record of 305-71 during his tenure at Kentucky, reaching the Final Four three times and taking it all down once.
The defending national champs didn’t make it look easy last year. A 1-point win over Auburn in the Final Four was followed by an 8-point overtime victory over Texas Tech in the title tilt. There’s not a ton of buzz surrounding the program in the offseason, but the futures market isn’t making the mistake of looking past a team which has been a matchup nightmare for many in recent seasons.
Duke Blue Devils
The Blue Devils spent much of last season being coronated as the best in the land. Then the tournament happened. Duke advanced to the Elite 8 before being stunned by Michigan by a score of 68-67. Three members of last year’s team were selected in the Top 10 of the NBA Draft, but stellar recruiting classes point to the team once again being among the nation’s elite.
The Next Tier
Turnover has been the name of the game for the Jayhawks, a team which was knocked out in the second round of last year’s tourney by Auburn. Talented point guard Devin Dotson returns to lead the way. He has plenty of depth and talent surrounding him on a club with big ambitions.
The Tigers have also turned over a ton of talent, but the program has attracted what many view as the top recruiting class in the entire nation. That brings a lot of attention to Memphis, and also places a good deal of pressure on the shoulders of second-year head coach Penny Hardaway.
North Carolina Tar Heels
A few returnees will be complemented by a stellar recruiting class for another program which has zero trouble attracting talent. While we naturally have to wait and see how all of that meshes on the court, North Carolina appears poised to be among the nation’s best once again.
The Wildcats disappointed last season with a second-round exit from the tournament. The program has lost several of its top players, but there is some returning talent which will be complemented by a few exciting prospects, including freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.
The Wolverines couldn’t get over the hump in the Big Ten last season, falling to Michigan State three times, but they were able to make it to the Sweet 16. Juwan Howrd takes over as head coach now that John Beilein is off to the NBA to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Bulldogs have lost some talent to the NBA, but the program has attracted transfers and a solid recruiting class. Last year’s squad made it to the Elite 8 after entering the tourney as one of the top seeds, falling to Texas Tech by a score of 75-69.
The Gators were the beneficiaries of a pleasant surprise when Virginia Tech graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. decided to take his talents to Florida. He has a ton of talent around him, so Florida is looking like a team to watch out of the tough SEC.
The ACC is loaded as per usual, but Louisville has a roster which could make some noise. Jordan Nwora leads the way for a team with a good amount of returning talent. The Cardinals have also snagged some solid prospects, so an improvement over last year’s first-round exit could be in the offing.
The Ducks are yet another squad which had to remake its roster, but the end result could be a team which is the best in the west. New recruits and transfers have led to optimism for head coach Dana Altman, who enters his 10th season at Oregon.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
A team which made a somewhat surprising run to last year’s final will look awfully different in the coming season. Just two players return, including guard Davide Moretti, but the program has done a good job on the recruiting front.
Unlike many of the nation’s top squads from a season ago, the Terrapins benefit from lots of returning talent. Naturally, that can make a huge difference when crunch time comes around. Jalen Smith and Anthony Cowan lead the way for a team that’s generating some buzz.
Other Teams to Watch
The Wildcats had a season to forget last year and missed the dance entirely. The club will also enter the year with four new starters due to attrition, but a solid recruiting class which netted guards Josh Green and Nico Mannion has bolstered hope that a turnaround is coming.
The Tigers were one of the darlings of last year’s tourneys with several thrilling wins to reach the Final Four. Auburn ran through a gauntlet of elite programs to make it that far, taking down Kansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky before falling at the hands of Virginia.
The Volunteers entered last year’s tournament as a two seed. They handled business over Colgate and Iowa, but both wins bere by a total of 13 points. A hot Purdue team sent them packing in the Sweet 16 by five points. Tennessee enters the new campaign on the radar and with something to prove.
The Longhorns were on the outside looking in at last year’s tournament. The club was invited to the NIT tournament instead, and they proceeded to take it down, defeating Lipscomb by 15 points in the final. We’ll see if that serves as additional motivation for the coming year, but the futures market thinks so.
Florida State Seminoles
The Seminoles made a surprise run to the ACC finals last season, falling to Duke in the final game by a score of 73-63. Along the way, they took down eventual national champion Virginia. They followed that up by advancing to the Sweet 16 before falling to Gonzaga.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
The SEC has a ton of balance, but the futures market is picking up on Mississippi State as a program to watch. They didn’t impress last year – losing in a first-round upset to Liberty – but the team has attracted some talent. Optimism abounds, but we’ll take a wait and see approach.
The Rest of the Field
At odds of +5000, we find five teams: Marquette, Ohio State, Houston, and Syracuse. All of the other programs currently on the board have odds ranging from +6000 to +50000. As always, some intriguing sleepers will emerge as the season moves along, and we can expect the futures market to adjust accordingly as a result.
For now, the 21 teams up above are the top choices of the futures market. A case can be made for each of them to have an awfully interesting run, but the programs with a track record of delivering are likely the wiser choices for the time being. That said, there’s nothing wrong with taking a flier on a team you’re sold on before the rest of the market catches up.