With college basketball’s regular season starting to wind down, it’s time to take a peak at the futures market and see what value could be on the table for bettors.

Multiple online sportsbook apps are currently offering odds on the national championship and Final Four as well as the No. 1 seed picture and regular season conference title races. By breaking down those odds and comparing them to public projection models, we can try to extract value in the market.

A couple important notes before we dive in: 1) All references to “expected value” are based on comparing projections from BartTorvik’s TourneyCast model to betting odds from FanDuel or DraftKings. 2) I compared futures prices at multiple sportsbooks for nearly 90 potential bets with BartTorvik’s model. The majority of those potential wagers produced a negative expected value, but the 5 bets you see below all scored very highly in terms of overall expected value.

Best-value futures bets entering the weekend

Duke to earn No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament (+5500 on DraftKings)

  • Implied odds: 1.79%
  • BartTorvik odds: 14.4%
  • Expected value: $706.40 on a $100 wager

The ACC is enduring another down season, which has taken some of the attention off of a really strong Duke team. The Blue Devils are 21-5 overall and have lost just 2 games since early December. The Blue Devils are 6-2 in Quad 1 games and are firmly in the mix to steal of the last couple No. 1 seeds on Selection Sunday if they’re able to have a strong close to the regular season.

Value-wise, this is easily the best bet on the board entering the weekend. BartTorvik’s model says the Blue Devils have better than a 14% chance to get to the top line. That’s still a long-shot, but it’s excellent value compared to the 1.79% implied odds that DraftKings is currently offering.

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Marquette to earn No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament (+5000 on DraftKings)

  • Implied odds: 1.96% chance
  • BartTorvik odds: 10.6% chance
  • Expected value: $440.60 on a $100 wager

This is another long-shot, but there’s simply too much value on the Golden Eagles at +5000 to be a No. 1 seed. BartTorvik gives Marquette a 10.6% chance to get to the top line — not likely, but significantly better odds than what FanDuel is offering here with implied odds of under 2%.

Marquette has often looked like one of the best teams in the country so far this season and rose as high as No. 5 in KenPom’s ratings earlier in the year. Marquette doesn’t have any bad losses (just 1 defeat outside of Quad 1 this season) and already owns 6 Quad 1 victories.

Crucially, Marquette does have the opportunity to meaningfully add to its résumé down the stretch. It still had 3 Quad 1 games remaining in the regular season: at Creighton, vs. UConn and at Xavier. For Marquette to earn a No. 1 seed, it would likely need to win at least 2 — if not all 3 — of those contests and then make a deep run at the Big East Tournament next month. It’s by no means likely, but it’s also not impossible. As far as +5000 futures go, you won’t find many better places to speculate.


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St. John’s to win the Big East Tournament (+3500 on FanDuel)

  • Implied odds: 2.78% chance
  • BartTorvik odds: 11.9% chance
  • Expected value: $328.40 on a $100 wager

We’re staying in the Big East with another long-shot as there’s tremendous value on St. John’s to take home the Big East Tournament title, according to BartTorvik’s model. The Red Storm have been reeling lately, with coach Rick Pitino making waves after he criticized the program’s facilities and players within the last week. St. John’s has lost 8 of its last 11 games since starting out 4-1 in Big East play.

So why do BartTorvik’s numbers like St. John’s so much? Despite the tough stretch, that model has the Red Storm ranked No. 30 nationally (15 spots ahead of where KenPom has them) going into this weekend. St. John’s is strong defensively and more-than-makes up for any issues on the other end with an elite offensive rebounding rate. St. John’s has also lost close games against the Big East’s best so far this season — 69-65 to UConn on the road, 66-65 to Creighton on the road and 73-72 to Marquette at home. Perhaps the Big East Tournament will be when St. John’s is finally able to get over the hump vs. those elite teams. At +3500, the price is good enough to pay to find out.

Houston to win the national championship (+750 on FanDuel )

  • Implied odds: 11.76% chance
  • BartTorvik odds: 23.9% chance
  • Expected value: $103.15 on a $100 wager

This is by far the best-value bet on the board for national championship futures. You’re getting a very fair price at +750 on the Cougars, who have all the pieces you could ask for when trying to pick a team to make a deep run in March. Houston is elite defensively, is well-coached and grades out as perhaps the best team in the country. BartTorvik, KenPom and ShotQuality’s models all agree that Houston is the No. 1 team in the nation entering this weekend.

And yet, Houston is not the favorite to win the national championship at FanDuel — UConn is at +500. But at BartTorvik, the Cougars are a prohibitive favorite with a 23.9% chance cut down the nets. The next-closest team in the odds is Purdue at 14.6% chance (the Huskies are third at 9.5%). That indicates a significant value opportunity on the Cougars that might not be there for much longer.

Although it didn’t make the top-5 this week, Houston at +170 to make the Final Four also carries a plus-EV of $29.60 (on a $100 wager).

Saint Mary’s to reach the Final Four (+1800 on FanDuel )

  • Implied odds: 5.26% chance
  • BartTorvik odds: 9.5% chance
  • Expected value: $80.50 on a $100 wager

There hasn’t been as much attention on the West Coast Conference this season as in some previous years, but the Gaels can play. Entering this weekend, they’ve won 14 games in a row — including a road victory at rival Gonzaga back on Feb. 3. They’re favored to win all 3 of their remaining regular season matchups and should have a good chance to win the WCC conference tournament as well.

Looking at Saint Mary’s’ past NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching the Final Four does seem like a lot to ask for. They’ve endured back-to-back second-round exits in the past 2 seasons and haven’t reached the Sweet 16 since 2010. The Gaels have never made it to the Elite Eight in program history, let alone the Final Four.

Still, this is a program that wins at a high level virtually every season and has plenty of NCAA Tournament experience under longtime head coach Randy Bennett. The Gaels rank 33rd nationally in minutes continuity per KenPom and are an elite rebounding team (4th in offensive rebounding rate, 1st in defensive rebounding rate). When you combine that profile with the $80.50 of expected value, this becomes a pretty sensible long-shot play.

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Honorable mentions

Alabama to be a No. 1 seed (+1000 at DraftKings) — This would have barely made the top-5 by expected value ($83.70), but I cut it from the board because it was not one of the 2 best No. 1 seed props available this week. Alabama’s poor nonconference record (8-5) and lack of results vs. Quad 1 teams (3-6 so far) may ultimately be disqualifying.

Houston to reach the Final Four (+170 at FanDuel) — As mentioned above, this bet carries an expected value of $29.60 and is one of the 10 strongest bets on the board according to EV.

Purdue to win the national championship (+750 at FanDuel) — The market remains highly-skeptical (potentially for good reason) of Purdue despite its overall dominance this season. This bet has an EV of $24.10 entering the weekend.