Big Ten College Basketball Conference Futures: How to Find Betting Value Among the Favorites
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ayo Dosunmu (left) and Trent Frazier (right).
The story is still the same.
The Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball. Any team can beat any other on any given night. There are no days off in the Big Ten. That hasn’t changed this season, and it likely won’t.
Big Ten basketball. The purest form of the sport.
— Tanner McGrath (@tannerstruth) January 30, 2021
Breaking down Big Ten conference futures odds requires a comprehensive review from top to bottom — anything less would be a disservice to the Big Ten’s exceptional depth and quality of play.
This week, a number of things have changed in the conference’s “tier” system.
Therefore, in this article I will attempt to cover as many teams as possible — roughly broken up into three completely made-up tiers: The Favorites, The Mid-Tiers and The Longshots.
Michigan is the clear best team in the conference. However, there are two other teams that are worth looking into.
The Fighting Illini are winners of four straight and just destroyed Wisconsin at home Saturday night. Their offense has been obviously great, but their defense has surged recently. Illinois is now second in the conference in defensive efficiency, per KenPom.
Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn still lead the Illinois attack. However, Senior guard Trent Frazier has stepped up his game recently. Frazier scored double-digits in three of the last four games, including 24 in a massive home win over Iowa.
If the Fighting Illini’s role players begin to have a larger impact, Illinois becomes a much more dangerous team. Plus, it still provides good value at +450.
Second, Ohio State. Also winners of four straight, Chris Holtmann’s squad has really started to round into form. Led by top scorers Duane Washington and EJ Liddell, the Buckeyes offense is now second in the conference in offensive efficiency.
Additionally, during this win streak, Ohio State covered in three of the four wins while beating Wisconsin and Iowa on the road. This is a dangerous Buckeye team and is definitely worth a play at +500.
One final point — fade Iowa. The Hawkeyes defense is so awful. There’s just no chance it will hold up in the Big Ten.
In this range, Purdue is certainly worth a look.
Purdue is now 8-5 in conference play with a few quality wins, including beating Ohio State twice, Indiana on the road and Minnesota at home (by 21 points).
Purdue has issues offensively at times, but it’s a solid defensive team and excellent on the boards. It’s top-50 in the country in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.
With a big man combo of Trevion Williams and Zach Edey, it’s easy to see how it’s dominant on the boards.
Williams is 6-foot-10 and 265 pounds and averages 9.6 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Edey stands at 7-foot-4 and weighs 285 pounds while averaging 4.3 rebounds per game in just 14 minutes. Edey adds 1.1 blocks per game as well.
On top of being a good rebounder, Williams is an elite offensive weapon and paces the team in scoring. He averages 15.4 points per game while shooting 52% from the field.
The Boilermakers play through Williams, and he will have to play excellent basketball for Purdue +1300 to pay off.
I want to look at Penn State here.
On Jan. 19, the Nittany Lions lost their fifth straight. The team was 3-6 overall and 0-5 in the conference, and Penn State looked almost as bad as Nebraska.
However, Penn State had just finished a gauntlet in which it played Michigan, Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois (twice).
Since then, Penn State has won four of its last six, beating Rutgers and Wisconsin in the process. Plus, during non-conference play, it defeated VCU at home and Virginia Tech on the road.
The point being, Penn State has some quality wins, has begun to play better and seems to be much better than their record indicates.
Its advanced metrics are terrible, but it has three players in the starting lineup who all average over double-digits.
For Penn State to make a run this March, the trio of Myreon Jones, Izaiah Brockington and Seth Lundy will have to not just continue playing well, but elevate their play substantially.
However, given its ceiling, Penn State is a good look at 200/1.