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College Basketball is Back!

David Troy (@FuturePrez2024) - November 24th, 2020

Thinking back to March, I can remember discussing with friends that there was no chance the NCAA would ever cancel March Madness. There was just too much money to pass up, there had to be a way that they would play. As usual, I was wrong. Flash forward to now and we have our first college basketball game in almost eight months coming on Tuesday. What can we expect, what should we look for, and how can we profit off college basketball? The last one is the easiest answer – let BTB do the work for you and sign up for his NCAA package on the site now.

The initial AP rankings show Gonzaga, Baylor, Villanova, Virginia, and Iowa as the top five teams. We know that will change significantly as the season goes. And, of course, we will have to deal with Covid-19 impacting the games and changing the overall ranks. Draftkings has Villanova (+700), Baylor, Gonzaga, Iowa (+800), and Kentucky and Virginia (+900) for the Championship winner. However, if ever there was a year for a wildcard team to win the championship this could be it. Games will be cancelled, teams will not play at full strength due to testing, so there is a lot of opportunity for individual game winners and potentially big upsets.

One of the more important factors this season could be returning starters. That should give programs a jumpstart on the season. Gonzaga has 3 returning starters, and 8 total returning. Baylor also has 3 returning starters and 8 total returning players on the roster. Villanova has 4 starters returning so their team chemistry and identity should improve over last year when they were 26-10. Virginia on the other hand could have hiccups with 1 returning starter and only 6 total returning players. Iowa, 5th in the AP poll has 3 returning starters and 6 returning players. All of this is more to give a guide as to how familiar with the system some of these top teams will be. To me it also lets me look for spots to bet against some of these teams early in the season (specifically Virginia in this case).

Incoming talent is the other side of this. There were a number of transfers including Sam Hauser going to Virginia who has potential to make a big impact, but for this I’m going to focus on incoming freshman. Kentucky leads the way with two 5-star recruits and four 4-star recruits. Calipari is familiar with getting stud talent and turning them into a successful team quickly. With the restrictions this season it will be interesting to see how quickly these players get familiar with his system. Following Kentucky is North Carolina, Duke, and Tennessee. Duke leads the way with four 5-star recruits. Gonzaga ranks 13th, Virginia 18th, and Baylor 28th, the other two top-five preseason leaders are not in the top 50 of recruiting class.

As stated earlier, I think there will be many opportunities to find value on individual games. For betting on a champion or Final Four appearance, I personally would not choose to do that. I’d much rather bet on conference winners if I am making future’s bets. Villanova is still low cost at -109, even though it is not plus money, I don’t see many challenging them for the Big East title. Obviously, the big concern is one or more of any team’s players being out for two weeks due to Covid-19.

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