As the NFL season heads down the home stretch, the action on the collegiate hardwood will now become the primary focus of sports bettors.
SI Sportsbook has No. 3 Houston (+600) listed as the favorite to cut down the nets at NRG Stadium on April 3. The Cougars would have the luxury of not having to travel far as NRG Stadium is only 6.7 miles from the school’s campus.
Houston is closely followed by defending champion No. 9 Kansas (+800) and No. 19 UConn (+900) at single-digit odds. No. 1 Purdue (+1000) and No. 2 Alabama (+1100) round out the top five betting choices.
Let’s take at the top contenders according to the latest odds in the 2023 NCAA championship futures market.
Iowa State +4000
Kansas State +5000
Houston entered the season as the second betting choice at 10-1 odds and has seen its odds shrink to +600 thanks to an 18-2 start. The Cougars suffered their second loss this past weekend when they were upset by unranked Temple, 56-55, as a 19.5-point home favorite. Kelvin Sampson’s club had its nine-game winning streak snapped but still appears headed for a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament.
Despite losing their starting backcourt of Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun the defending national champion Jayhawks raced off to a 16-1 record. However, despite immense production from forward Jalen Wilson, who ranks 13th in the country in scoring at 21.4 points per game, Bill Self’s crew has dropped three straight games to Big 12 rivals No. 5 Kansas State, No. 11 TCU and No. 17 Baylor. Rock Chalk will have to right the ship quickly if they have any hope of securing a top seed in the national tournament.
One of the biggest surprises thus far this season has been the 19-1 start for the top-ranked Boilermakers. Main Painter’s club had +4000 odds in the preseason and has seen its odds cut to +1000 odds. Zach Edey has taken his game to the next level in his junior campaign, ranking 10th in scoring with 21.5 points per game and second in the nation in rebounding with 13.2 boards per contest. Edey’s production has led to the 7’4” big-man becoming the overwhelming prohibitive betting favorite to win the 2022-23 Wooden Award at -400 odds.
Alabama (+1100) stands out among the teams that have outperformed the preseason expectations of oddsmakers. The Crimson Tide were offered at +3500 odds in November and sit atop the SEC with a 7-0 conference record, while winning 17 of their first 19 games. Nate Oats’s club owns arguably the best resume in the country with signature wins over North Carolina, Houston, Mississippi State and Arkansas, while its only two defeats have come at the hands of highly regarded No. 14 Gonzaga and UConn.
Among teams with moon shot odds, bettors should be drawn to Kansas State at +5000 odds. The Wildcats have jumped up to No. 5 in the latest polls and are 9-1 straight-up and 8-2 against the spread in their 10 games. Jerome Tang has led Kansas State to a 6-1 start in Big 12 play, beating No. 10 Texas, No. 17 Baylor and in-state rival Kansas in the first half of conference play. Senior transfer Keyontae Johnson’s play has the forward in strong position for Big 12 Player of the Year honors thanks to averages of 18.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Ranked teams continue to be upset nearly every night, while surprise teams like the College of Charleston (No. 18; 21-1) and Florida Atlantic (No. 21; 19-1) are ranked inside the top 25. Following the retirements of legendary coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Jay Wright, Duke (+3000) and Villanova (+20000) headline the list of teams who have underperformed. The perennial Blue Blood programs are joined by North Carolina (+4000), who has failed to live up to expectations after making it to the championship game in the first season under Hubert Davis .
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