College Basketball Futures, Odds: Debating TCU, Kansas to Win NCAA National Championship
Ryan Collinsworth/Action Network.
In a normal year of college football, the Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas would arguably be the most intriguing matchup of the season, let alone a single week.
This year, with Oklahoma fading and Texas not "back" yet, TCU vs. Kansas is the marquee game of Week 6's college football slate.
Yes, two basketball schools are making a run at the Big 12 football title.
So, that got us at Action Network thinking about the college basketball season that's right around the corner, especially with two of our experts on opposite ends of the national title futures spectrum.
2023 NCAA Basketball Championship Odds
San Diego State
College hoops is right around the corner, meaning it's time to build a portfolio of futures with time ticking toward March Madness.
While midseason futures center around buying teams on a dip, preseason futures are all about identifying continuity in players and coaching.
Entering the 2022-23 season, there may be no better case for that than the TCU basketball program.
Head coach Jamie Dixon enters his 20th season with all five starters returning from a team that nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the 2022 NCAA tournament — vs. Arizona in the Round of 32.
Dixon has made the NCAA tournament 12 times in his career, but may have his best returning class yet.
Junior Mike Miles, who has a career path heading toward the NBA, played more possessions than any player on the roster and was the leading scorer for the Horned Frogs last season. After declaring for the NBA draft, the guard elected to return to Fort Worth to fortify the starting five.
Joining Miles in the backcourt is senior Damion Baugh, who owns one of the best assist rates in the nation.
10 scholarship players return to assist in another run through the Big 12 Conference for TCU.
Dixon was also able to bring in Rondel Walker from Oklahoma State, a former AAU teammate of Miles.
TCU gets an entire roster back that ranked 15th in adjusted defensive efficiency, harassing opponents at the 3-point line while ranking as the best offensive rebounding team in the nation.
Per ShotQuality, the Frogs were an elite defense against screens and in half-court sets. The highest offensive play that can be made is at the hoop, and TCU ranked ninth nationally in frequency of finishing at the rim.
A date with Providence in the Big 12-Big East battle from Schollmaier Arena is one of the few challenges the Horned Frogs will face before conference play begins.
Preseason futures have been hammered on TCU since Miles' announcement to return, but those numbers will continue to take money with a schedule conducive to racking up plenty of November and December wins.
The Frogs are already a projected Sweet 16 team, giving this number plenty of value in the futures market.
Pick: TCU +4000 to Win National Title
Collin Wilson may be high on a TCU national title this season, but that’s just a value play.
Not to mention TCU might be a little overhyped — like how everyone fell in love with North Carolina, and then Creighton, et cetera.
There’s a reason Kansas is 13/1 to win the national title while TCU is 50/1. And there’s a reason why Kansas is still the better bet.
TCU may lay seven points on the gridiron, but Kansas is the better bet on the hard court.
In lieu of this weekend’s biggest football game, let me break down the reasons why Kansas is the better bet to win the college basketball National Championship.
Reason No. 1: Bill Self is Still the Head Coach
Coach K is done. Roy Williams was gone a year ago. Jay Wright finally put the whistle away.
Bill Self is now the undisputed best coach in college hoops. After 20 seasons, Self has the highest winning percentage of any active coach with 500 or more victories. He has the highest home-winning percentage of any active coach, with the Jayhawks having lost just 15 games at Allen Fieldhouse this century.
Self is fresh off of the biggest come-from-behind victory in championship game history, rallying his Jayhawks from 16 points down to beat UNC.
To top it off, Self is pissed.
Kansas is staring down the barrel of five Level I allegations from the NCAA on the basis of bribery and corruption in recruiting. Self and Kansas believe this is a joke. They are laughing in the face of these allegations.
“The NCAA enforcement staff’s reply does not in any way change the University of Kansas’ position that the allegations brought against our men’s basketball program are simply baseless and littered with false representations… The NCAA enforcement staff’s reply does not in any way change the University of Kansas’ position that the allegations brought against our men’s basketball program are simply baseless and littered with false representations.”
Those are fighting words. Self is about to go on a tear this season.
Reason No. 2: The Big Three
Dajuan Harris Jr., Jalen Wilson and Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCullar create as good of a big three as you will see in college basketball.
Harris is a certified floor general and a lockdown defender. He led the Big 12 and was 14th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.81-to-1). He played in 39 games last season and started 40 of them primarily because he was the lead perimeter defender on a team that held opponents to under 30% from 3.
Wilson is a pretty good bet for Big 12 Player of the Year. He averaged 12 points per game this season and now has nobody in front of him and the rim.
Wilson is going to ferociously attack the bucket in transition. The Jayhawks love to play in transition and run downhill, and Wilson is the perfect fit for this style.
Plus, Wilson is a solid rebounder and playmaker. He will be the Jayhawks' MVP when it’s all set and done.
McCullar is going to be the most important piece, however. What he brings is unlimited versatility.
McCullar can defend one-through-five, and defend really well (2.8% steal rate). McCullar can handle the ball like a guard (19.4% assist rate) or run the floor as a four. McCullar can do everything and anything Self asks him to and that unlocks unlimited possibilities.
Watch out if the shots start falling, too.
Reason No. 3: Depth at Guard
Harris won the job last year, but he had to beat out returning guards Joseph Yesufu and Bobby Pettiford.
Don’t overlook those guys this season.
Yesufu is a combo guard with deep range. People tend to forget he averaged over 20 points in his final nine games as the lead scorer at Drake.
— MVC Basketball (@ValleyHoops) March 6, 2021
Yesufu is also a pretty good on-ball defender and likes doing the dirty work. Self claims he was utilizing him wrong, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some improvement in that area.
Pettiford should be a breakout star this season. An injury ended a promising start last year, but he averaged almost 20 points in high school.
Despite the array of promising big men in the league, college ball is still a guard’s game. This is as good a group as you’ll see in the nation.
That doesn’t even mention the young guards coming in.
Reason No. 4: The Freshmen
Self brought in the nation’s fourth-best recruiting class, per 247. That class includes three McDonald’s All-Americans.
Two of those are guards.
Gradey Dick is the lone five-star recruit coming to Kansas and is projected to start at the two right away. He was the 2022 Gatorade Player of the Year in Kansas — the last GPOTY to attend Kansas was Andrew Wiggins.
Dick is a knockdown shooter from any area of the floor and can create his own shot — otherwise known as the perfect two-guard.
MJ Rice was the other All-American guard, a four-star recruit out of California. He’s a lengthy guard who has the ability to run the wing with size and explosiveness. He can score at all three levels and loves playing downhill (as Self does).
Self brought in two more four-star recruits in Ernest Udeh Jr. and Zuby Ejiofor, two guys that can play the athletic five role.
Recapping Kansas Over TCU
This is the perfect Bill Self roster.
The Jayhawks will play fast and downhill with a number of athletic guards. They have a true No. 1 in Wilson. They will probably be better defensively with McCullar leading the way, and this is after finishing top-20 in Defensive Efficiency last season.
They also have a number of young players with uber-high ceilings. They’ll be led by veterans with tournament experience.
This team has a great composition. 13/1 is cheap, and much better value than TCU and Jamie Dixon’s horrendous offense.