As the college basketball season begins, we need to take a good look at the landscape of the sport and analyze some good future bets on the eventual national champion. I want to get into three bets at different ranges that I think have a real shot at winning the national championship.
The Top Dogs
Michigan State is my favorite bet at the top of the board because of their overall roster construction. The Spartans have a veteran leader in Cassius Winston, who also is the best player as a ball-dominant guard. This means that late in tournament games, I will always be able to count on this team to do things the right way.
We have seen in recent years that having veteran leaders and an experienced team is one of the biggest keys to winning a national championship. For the Spartans, they have one true freshman starting in Rocket Watts, and he is really talented, but they should be able to let him play through high and low points without counting on him to win them games.
Having these veterans to count on has been the key to winning in recent years, and no one in the country has a better crew of vets than Michigan State. I like this team at +1000 to win it all.
A Step Down
Veterans? Never heard of them. Give me Memphis at +1800 simply for the sheer upside of this team and because I believe that we could get some value based on their regular-season schedule.
As of right now, Memphis has ONE ranked team currently on its schedule. While the schedule is not a complete cakewalk, it is definitely not close to the schedules of the other top-end teams, and we could see a scenario where Memphis has the best regular-season record in the country and gets a No. 1 seed come tourney time.
If this is the case, I suspect the odds and the hype on this young and talented team will cause a spike in these odds. I like the value on the unknown here and banking on the talent to get value early.
Give Me The Sleeper
I won’t travel down the board too much here to find a longer play, so give me Ohio State at +4000. This play is more in line with my thought process about Michigan State and the veteran presence along with the talent coming in.
Ohio State has three top-50 recruits joining the team in DJ Carton, EJ Liddell, and Alonzo Gaffney. Gaffney is probably not quite ready to be a star yet, but I think that both Carton and Liddell can challenge for Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten because they are polished scorers.
The biggest key here is that the Buckeyes return basically their entire team from last season, including their best player, Kaleb Wesson. Wesson struggled with foul trouble, but when he was on the court, the Buckeyes were a really tough out. Now that everyone is a year older and they have some talented scorers at the guard and wings positions, this could be a team that is one of those tough outs with a lot of depth and a good mix of vets and young talent.
This team also has non-conference games vs. Villanova, North Carolina, and Kentucky, which will make them really battle-tested going through the Big Ten and the tournament.