The 2019-20 college basketball schedule is just getting started, but that doesn't mean we can't start looking ahead toward the season's annual climax: March Madness.
The NCAA Tournament is one of the great spectacles in all of sports. It looms over the entire college hoops season and also provides one of the biggest betting opportunities at any point throughout the year in the United States.
Despite the action being a few months away, there's a large contingent of bettors with an interest in college basketball futures markets, some of which feature March Madness odds.
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March Madness Odds: Usual Suspects Favored For 2020 NCAA Tournament Championship?
The first thing to keep in mind is that we don't have a March Madness bracket and we won't for several months until all the conference tournaments are played. Still, there is a market at most online sportsbooks for the championship winner, and it's many of the schools you'd expect to see with the lowest odds.
At the top of the list of betting favorites are the preseason top-ranked team from what are considered the four best conferences in collegiate basketball:
- Big Ten (Michigan State)
- SEC (Kentucky)
- ACC (Duke)
- Big 12 (Kansas)
Going by FoxBet NJ odds (and almost any other sportsbook), these four conferences dominate the list group of teams with the best chance to cut down the nets at the 2020 Final Four. In fact, 12 of the 14 betting favorites come from one of these leagues, making any other program and conference an outlier (like Gonzaga from the West Coast Conference).
With the most experience back at basically every key position, Michigan State is a popular choice among experts and bettors alike to win the title. In fact, DraftKings Sportsbook's data from New Jersey showed the Spartans receiving more tickets than any other team and the second-highest handle at the start of the season. The only team with a higher amount of money bet on it was the Florida Gators.
March Madness Expert Predictions For 2020 Final Four
Once March Madness arrives, all anyone talks about is: who will make the Final Four? Well, we're posing that question months in advance. Below are futures odds from DraftKings Sportsbook West Virginia regarding which teams can find their way into the middle of the NCAA Tournament bracket:
Just like selecting a champion, making Final Four picks is a bit more difficult without having the benefit of seeing an NCAA tournament bracket because the layout of the regions plays a major role in selecting which programs. With that said, picks are still being made.
According to NCAA basketball expert predictions from CBS Sports, here are a few of the teams expected to make a run at the Final Four:
- Michigan State
- North Carolina
Of course, it's possible that a dark horse team with astronomical odds finds its way into the Final Four (Loyola Chicago in 2018). At this point in the season, however, making that selection is nearly impossible, so it's the blue-blood schools and other large programs with the top-rated coaching and talent in the country that sees most of the action.
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2019-20 NCAA Basketball Predictions: Winners Of Power Conferences
Most people think betting on March Madness begins and ends with NCAA Tournament, but it actually begins before that as teams are competing for titles in their individual leagues.
Prior to conference tournaments getting underway, however, there's a regular-season championship that teams are battling for through the end of February and the beginning of March.
FanDuel Sportsbook, which is now live in Pennsylvania, offers a wider range of markets than most other sites including outright winners for several leagues including the power conferences. Below, we briefly discuss a couple of the premier conferences in college basketball, which should produce the most teams when it comes to 2020 March Madness.
ACC Basketball Predictions
The Atlantic Coast Conference is one of the best in college basketball year-after-year, mostly because of the big-name programs at the top.
Four of those programs in Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, and Virginia began the season among the best 15 teams in the country and all of them are now inside the top 10 in the early going. All of these teams are fairly close in terms of talent level and elite coaching, not to mention they all must play one another twice throughout the season.
If experience counts for anything, however, Louisville has an outstanding shot at the outright ACC title and we'd take them where they currently sit at +300 due to the number of returning players on the roster including Jordan Nwora and Steven Enoch.
Louisville a bonafide upper-echelon team with experienced players and even if the lines of Duke and UNC have the 'best'; overall players, it could take starting lineups mostly filled with underclassmen some time to gel and adapt to winning games at the highest level in college basketball.
Big 12 Basketball Predictions
The Big 12 Conference is top-to-bottom one of the best in college basketball every season, and that isn't going to change in 2019-20 as at least a half-dozen teams could wind up back in the big dance this season.
Despite losing its 14-year reign at the top of the Big 12 regular season standings and being embroiled in an NCAA violations controversy, it's Kansas expected to take the crown once again with +125 odds at FanDuel Pennsylvania.
Led by Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike, the Jayhawks' talent level exceeds every other team in the Big 12 and bookmaker odds support that theory. If looking for a larger payout, keep an eye on Baylor at +350, which has the second-lowest odds. Baylor was the only team in the conference aside from Kansas to be ranked in the top 20 of the preseason poll.
Big Ten Basketball Predictions
Oddsmakers favor Michigan State (+115) heavily over the rest of the Big Ten programs, and for good reason. After reaching the 2019 Final Four, Michigan State entered the season as the preseason No. 1 team in the nation and the favorite for the national championship.
Senior guard Cassius Winston is the consensus top player in the country going into the season with several other big-name players back for a run at the 2020 Final Four, which would be hall-of-fame coach Tom Izzo's ninth appearance since 1999.
Maryland, Ohio State, Purdue, and Michigan are top 25-caliber schools, but not at MSU level, so we'd take the Spartans to win the regular-season title. For a longshot pick in the Big Ten, perhaps consider Maryland (+400) coming off 23 wins with plenty of returning players under Mark Turgeon.
FanDuel Sportsbook also provides outright league title odds for several other power conferences as well as one additional mid-major conference:
- Southeastern Conference
- Big East Conference
- Pac 12 Conference
- West Coast Conference