My CBB Best Value Sports Bet

By mid-December the excitement of a new season has worn off a little bit and you realize we’re still a long way from the end of the season. One way to keep things interesting is to put some money on the line. Personally, I like early season championship game bets. You can get great odds on teams with an outside chance that could end up paying out well in a few months. For example, after the Crew dropped a couple games in October, their championship odds dropped to 15/1. I got them on those odds and even though they didn’t win, I was able to hedge my earlier bet by putting money on Portland in the championship game and made money anyways. Since this blog is about college hoops, I thought I’d share my championship game best value bet.

First, let’s breakdown how I found my championship game best value bet. I considered 4 main points of criteria:

  • The team must have a great coach.
  • The team must be balanced on offense and defense.
  • The team must have a guard or guards that can create shots for themselves and their teammates.
  • Can’t be a favorite with shitty odds.

 

  1. The team has to have a great coach.

This is the most basic. As I previously pointed out, only elite coaches win National Championships. College athletics in general are dominated by elite coaches. If you don’t have a transcendent coach, your odds of winning it all are slim to none.

The tricky part of this criteria is that every tournament a great coach pops into the national spotlight. Usually they have been running great programs, but no one has heard of them until their team makes a Cinderella run in the tournament.

If you really really love college hoops, you might be able to predict who these guys will be, but I pretty much only watch Ohio State until the tournament so I have no clue who these guys are.  

I stick to the known commodities so my best bet features a coach everyone agrees is really good.

 

  1. The team must be balanced on offense and defense.

SInce Kenpom’s advanced metrics were introduced in 2002, every championship team has been top 25 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency except one (Shabazz’s UConn team is the exception). It’s too early to set store by this stat right now, but it’s worth monitoring. Here are the teams currently top 25 in offense and defense: Virginia, Oklahoma, Purdue, Villanova, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville, Xavier, Iowa State, Baylor, and Vanderbilt.

 

  1. The team must have a guard or guards that can create shots for themselves and their teammates.

This is less of a rule and more of a general observation. In the tournament, games are over coached more than ever and spacing is even tighter. Spacing in CBB is already way tighter than the NBA because of the longer 3-point line, but it becomes really difficult to score in the post during the tournament unless you have a transcendent post scorer like Jahlil Okafor.

A guard that can shoot and penetrate is essential for when the offense breaks down. UConn has won it twice because Kemba and Shabazz could always bail out the offense with clutch shots when all else failed. Experience in a plus.

 

  1. Can’t be a favorite with shitty odds.

Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas are eliminated. They always get bad odds because they have large followings and usually fit most of the above criteria. One of these teams will probably win it, but the value you get with their odds is not worth it.

Ok let’s start with the Kenpom top 25 offensive and defensive teams:

Virginia, Oklahoma, Purdue, Villanova, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville, Xavier, Iowa State, Baylor, and Vanderbilt.

 

Now take out the teams without great coaches:

Virginia (let me see Tony Bennett win some games that matter first), Oklahoma (no idea who this coach is), Purdue (don’t trust Matt Painter), Villanova (not falling for this one again), Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville, Xavier (see Oklahoma), Iowa State (hasn’t won any big games), Baylor (hell no), and Vanderbilt (no).

Now eliminate teams with bad odds:

Kansas (9/1), Kentucky (9/1), Michigan State (9/1), and Louisville (30/1).

So Louisville is the last man standing. But can I really root for Louisville? Hell no.

Well, that leaves no teams remaining so who is my CBB best value bet for the championship?

I’m going with Arizona. Their offense isn’t as efficient as it should and their point differential is scary, but I’m banking on Sean Miller getting this team over the hump. Last year they were 7th in offensive adjusted efficiency and 3rd in defense. Gabe York is a senior and has improved his ball handling. He could have a breakout tournament. They also have 30/1 odds so it’s a nice payout if they hit.

In case you’re wondering, no chance on the Buckeyes this year. But next year? I might put a few dollars on some early preseason odds for the hell of it. You never know.

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