College Basketball Futures Odds, Picks, Predictions: Feast Week Favorites, Value Plays & Longshots
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: Armando Bacot (UNC)
Feast Week is upon us, which means a heaping helping of college basketball tournaments. Exotic locales, fascinating intersectional matchups and enough star power to compete with the NFL and World Cup — what a week of college hoops we have on tap.
Sportsbooks are offering futures odds on who will win a handful of marquee tournaments, including the Maui Invitational, the Phil Knight Invitational and the Battle 4 Atlantis.
So, bring two plates into our gambling kitchen and load up on this betting buffet.
Breese & Keg’s Feast Week College Basketball Futures
The picks in the table below represent the futures bets that our Mike Calabrese and Keg are targeting during Feast Week. Click on any of the following picks to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Favorite: Arkansas +250
With so many new faces on the roster, there were some questions coming into the season about how well Arkansas would mesh. There’s undoubtedly a lot of talent, but most of it is young and inexperienced.
However, through three games, the Razorbacks seem to be firing on all cylinders.
Arkansas’ defense is top-five in the nation, limiting all of its first three opponents to less than 60 points.
The Razorbacks’ defense has been great when it comes to both defending shots, as well as forcing turnovers. Not to mention, they’ve done all of this without the help of one of their most promising first-year players in Nick Smith Jr.
Smith isn’t expected to play in Maui, but if he does, it would be a massive improvement for the Razorbacks’ offense. Head coach Eric Musselman said on Monday that Smith has been doing things on his own to get back to 100%, but has yet to practice with the team.
In Smith’s absence, both Ricky Council IV and Trevon Brazile (the transfer from Missouri) have been huge for the Razorbacks’ offense. Council leads the team with 18.7 points per game, while Brazile has been the only Razorback shooting better than 33.3% from beyond the arc.
The Razorbacks get a favorable draw in the bracket (Louisville first), but will likely have to get past a strong Creighton team to get to the championship.
I think the Arkansas defense will be a rude awakening for a Creighton team that has yet to truly be tested. Not to mention, should Smith become available for late games in the tourney, the Razorbacks’ offense takes a massive step up.
Value Play: Creighton +450
Greg McDermott may have assembled his best team since taking over the reins in Omaha from Dana Altman back in 2010.
That’s a lofty statement considering the fact that the Bluejays have won 46 games in the past two seasons, including a Sweet 16 run last March.
But it’s hard to deny how dynamic this starting lineup is this season.
Our friends over at The Almanac compiled a list of the top 100 players in college basketball this season. Creighton had four players in their top 75, matching blue bloods like Duke and North Carolina.
Thanks to the addition of Baylor Scheierman — a 3-point assassin from South Dakota State — the Bluejays feature four double-digit scorers from the ‘21-22 season. Their offense is already firing on all cylinders, and is up to seventh in offensive efficiency nationally.
And then there’s the path to the Maui Invitational title game. They’re on the opposite side of the bracket from Arizona and San Diego State, a pair of top-20 teams in the AP Poll.
They’ll have to play their way through Texas Tech and likely Arkansas to reach the finals, but with Smith’s availability up in the air, I like Creighton’s chances.
Battle 4 Atlantis
Value Play: Dayton +650
I’ve always been an Anthony Grant fan. Had the 2019-20 season not fallen victim to the pandemic, I believe he would have led Dayton to the Final Four.
In that alternate reality, he would likely be coaching at a premier program today. Instead, Dayton has been able to retain his services, and he’s built a formidable roster capable of making a deep run in March this season.
The key for the Flyers will be sophomore big man DaRon Holmes II.
Holmes was dynamic down the stretch last season, averaging 20 points, six rebounds and 2.6 “stocks” per game in his final five outings. In the Flyers’ first two games this season, he picked up where he left off, particularly against SMU (20 pts, 7 rebs, 5 blks).
But when he struggled against UNLV (4 pts, 1-5 FG), the Flyers were powerless to hold onto an early nine-point lead. As Holmes goes, so goes the Flyers.
With lots of tricky opponents in the field (Kansas, Tennessee), drawing Wisconsin out of the chute is a blessing for Dayton. Since 2019, Grant is 9-4 SU on neutral floors, including an overtime loss to Kansas in the Maui Invitational title game three years ago.
Longshot: NC State +4000
The Wolfpack have been one of the best scoring teams in the nation, and when it comes to the Battle 4 Atlantis, Terquavion Smith may very well be the best scorer on any team in the field.
In the Pack’s first three games of the season, he’s racked up 60 points.
Meanwhile, Jarkel Joiner — the transfer from Ole Miss — is actually slightly ahead of him, averaging 20.3 points per game. He’s scored 61 in the first three matchups.
Also, the Wolfpack’s defense can keep up with any team in this field, and where the unit may fall short in genuine shot defense, it makes up for it by forcing turnovers. The Wolfpack are coming away with a steal on 17.3% of possessions, which ranks sixth-best in all of college basketball.
NC State will push the pace and even if its defense struggles to stop teams like Kansas — its first-round matchup — there isn’t a doubt in my mind its offense can do enough to keep up with the Jayhawks.
Caesars has the Wolfpack listed at +1800 to win the Battle 4 Atlantis. Even if you don’t believe in the Wolfpack like I do, getting them at more than double the listed odds on another book is worth a small wager based on value alone.
Phil Knight Invitational
Favorite: UNC +230
The Tar Heels are off to a sleepy start this season, evidenced by their 0-3 start against the spread. Armando Bacot is coming off one of the worst shooting nights of his career (2-9 FG vs. Gardner-Webb) and as a team, UNC is shooting just 27.3% from long range.
Consider this my buy-low moment on last season’s national runner-up.
Emotionally, it can be difficult to go from their dizzying March Madness run to getting up for UNC Wilmington, Charleston and Gardner-Webb. Luckily, after a warm-up game against Portland, the Heels will likely find themselves against Villanova and a top-25 team in the PK title game.
That should rev the Tar Heels’ engine up.
It’s clear Hubert Davis hasn’t figured out exactly how to replace Brady Manek’s production (12.7 PPG, 40.3% 3P), but I’m encouraged by Pete Nance’s play in the early going.
The Northwestern transfer canned 3-of-5 attempts from long range against Gardner-Webb in the Tar Heels’ last game. They need him to provide that element to their offense to keep teams from keying in on Caleb Love and Bacot.
Longshot: Iowa State +900
No team in the country has been better than the Cyclones when it comes to limiting opponents’ scoring or limiting opponents’ rebounds.
Is that due somewhat to the fact that they’ve played IUPUI and NC A&T? Absolutely, but I still believe this Iowa State team owns an elite defense that can seriously cause some havoc in the PKI.
The Cyclones are one of the most experienced teams in college basketball, and while a lot of their statistical numbers are inflated due to the competition they’ve faced, I don’t think they’re as far off as some believe.
The Cyclones will also have the benefit of matching up against Villanova in the first round of the Phil Knight Invitational. The Wildcats are a team that has struggled so far this year even against inferior competition.
And they aren’t the only team in the field that’s had issues against less than competitive opponents so far this season.
UNC failed to cover the spread against any of its first three opponents, struggling to defend, as well as struggling to establish leads. Alabama and UConn have both benefited from playing inferior opponents, but neither has looked as dominant as Iowa State — and Oregon lost to UC Irvine at home.
Taking a flier here on Iowa State seems impossible to pass up. Make sure to shop around on the line, as well. The Cyclones are listed at +900 on FanDuel, but as of Friday night, they were +1500 on Caesars.