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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 at 5:15 PM

Richie Baccellieri: Comparing Futures Prices to Bracketology

The buzz is starting to build for the college basketball postseason. March is less than a week away! Fans and media are paying a lot more attention to Joe Lunardi's Bracketology updates at ESPN. Unfortunately, the media barely pays attention at all to Futures Prices for the National Championship. Basketball fans would be a lot better informed if they knew what the most intelligent influences in the marketplace were thinking about the Big Dance.

I went and grabbed Lunardi's projected seeds from his most recent (February 22) update. Then I wrote in a composite of the most widely available offshore and Nevada championship prices for those teams. The numbers you see below reflect an estimated midpoint of what's out there. If you shop around, you can find more appealing returns for any teams you want to bet.

Kansas +850
Oklahoma +900
Villanova +1200
Virginia +1700

If you're not familiar with Futures pricing, those reflect what a $100 bet would pay. If you bet $100 on Kansas to win the National Championship, and the Jayhawks did cut down the would win $850. (Or, anything in that ratio...a $10 would win $85, a $5,000 bet would win $42,500.) Kansas is the current national favorite in the marketplace...though it's still a competitive year with several good teams. You'll see in a moment that Villanova and Virginia are NOT in the top four in the markets. For practical purposes, Kansas and Oklahoma are virtual co-favorites with North Carolina.

North Carolina +1000
Michigan State +1100
Iowa +1600
Xavier +2000

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the market was largely ignoring short term slumps for many of the big name teams...on the assumption that those programs would get things figured out in time for the Dance. That's held true. Teams like Kansas and Michigan State have really picked up their performances lately. Xavier is seen as a bit of a pretender here. That won't surprise those of you who follow computer ratings. Big game tonight with Xavier hosting Villanova. Will they both look like Elite Eight caliber teams in that one? Lunardi says yes...but the markets say no.

Maryland +1400
West Virginia +3300
Miami +3300
Oregon +3300

The market still loves Maryland, even though the team has dropped recent games to Wisconsin and Minnesota. Understandable that Lunardi would have to drop them down based on those results. The market still sees the Terps as an Elite Eight team. Note how the projected #3's are actually a bit worse than the projected #4's.

Kentucky +1400
Duke +1800
Arizona +2800
Iowa State +3300

Kentucky has been on a tear lately, and is being priced like a team that should be on the short list of championship hopefuls. Duke impressed at North Carolina, and was about to do the same at Louisville before foul trouble got in the way. We could have an amazing Sweet 16 round if the eventual #1's really do have to run into those teams as eventual #4's. Personally, I think Kentucky will end up higher. There's a chance Duke and Arizona will too if they play well in their conference tournaments.

Purdue +3300
Indiana +4000
Texas A&M +5000
Dayton +10000

The market generally frowns on mid-majors like Dayton. When was the last time a mid-major went the distance?! It's one thing to occasionally sneak into the Final Four. Winning the title is much tougher. For now, investing in mid-majors is a waste of money no matter what the prices are. Also of note here, the market doesn't buy Texas A&M as a serious threat after their recent slump.

Texas +4000
Notre Dame +5000
Baylor +8000
Utah +10000

Interesting group there...but probably one that's more likely to play spoiler than run the table. I'm looking forward to the Arizona/Utah and Kansas/Texas games that are coming up in the next few days. Baylor gave Kansas all lit could handle for about 35 minutes in Waco Tuesday night. Not good enough because Kansas is peaking at the right time. I'll stop the seeding notes here. A few other teams on the radar...

Connecticut +5000
California +5000
Wichita State +5000
Gonzaga +6000
LSU +6600

LSU is actually now a longshot to even get into the Dance! The Futures markets have been slow to punish them because there are some squares who aren't paying enough attention to notice that the projected #1 draft pick (Ben Simmons). All of those teams are well above Dayton in the pricing, a #5 seed according to Lunardi.

This will probably be my last college basketball report until the NCAA Tournament arrives. Then, we'll have a very active schedule of "sharps" updates through the Big Dance. I'll go session by session in the first week...then day-to-day in the second week. You regulars know college basketball is my favorite sport to handicap and bet. The tournament is like a month of Christmas!

A solid handicapping campaign has continued for my clients. My BEST BETS are available daily here online with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. This is a great time to lock in for all picks from now through championship night at a very affordable price.