The regular season in college basketball is winding to a close, which means it’s time to take a hard look at the futures market before the postseason begins.

Several sports betting apps have posted odds in the national championship, Final Four, No. 1 seed and conference title markets. By breaking down those odds and comparing them to public projection models, we can try to identify the best-value bets.

A couple of key 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) After calculating the expected value of nearly 100 different potential futures bets, these are the 5 highest-expected value bets on the board entering the weekend:

Best-value futures bets entering the weekend

St. John’s to win the Big East Tournament (+2000 on FanDuel)

  • Implied odds: 4.76%
  • BartTorvik odds: 17.7%
  • Expected value: $271.70 on a $100 wager

Readers of last week’s futures market update may remember the Red Storm being featured there as well. St. John’s was +3900 to win the Big East Tournament just a week ago, so the number has come down quite a bit here. But there’s still significant value on Rick Pitino’s squad even after they picked up a dominant win over Creighton this week. Their odds to win the conference tournament have significantly improved in the last week, per Bart Torvik — from 11.9% to 17.7%.

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

  • Implied odds: 11.76%
  • BartTorvik odds: 25.20%
  • Expected value: $114.20 on a $100 wager

The Cougars were also mentioned in last week’s market update and they remain the top value bet to win the national championship. It’s unclear why the market is so consistently undervaluing a Houston team that is loaded with talent, experience and a proven coach, but that seems to be the reality of this situation. Houston has the No. 1 defense in the country per KenPom and offense that values possessions as well as any offense in the country (it ranks in the top 10 of both offensive turnover rate and offensive rebounding rate). Houston to make the Final Four also remains a plus-EV bet ($30.26 expected value on a $100 wager).

SMU to win AAC Conference Tournament (+340 on FanDuel)

  • Implied odds: 22.73%
  • BartTorvik odds: 30%
  • Expected value: $32 on a $100 wager

SMU potentially winning the American Athletic Conference Tournament was flagged in our NCAA Tournament bubble betting guide earlier this week. The Mustangs are actually the favorite to win the conference tournament, per BartTorvik, despite currently being in 4th place in the AAC.

Tennessee to be a No. 1 seed (+150 on FanDuel)

  • Implied odds: 40%
  • BartTorvik odds: 52%
  • Expected value: $30 on a $100 wager

Models and bracketologists alike pretty much agree at this stage in the season that UConn, Houston and Purdue will be 3 of the No. 1 seeds when the bracket is revealed on Selection Sunday. Those experts also generally agree that Tennessee and Arizona are in a dog fight for the final spot. FanDuel is currently favoring the Wildcats in that debate, but BartTorvik is projecting the Vols to get to the top line.

Tennessee has a big advantage in this race as it still has 3 Quad 1 games remaining in the regular season. Arizona, who has already lost 4 games in a weak Pac-12, doesn’t have any such Quad 1 opportunities left before the conference tournament begins. As far as on-court personnel goes, Tennessee has an elite defense and perhaps the best perimeter player in the country in Dalton Knecht. Tennessee would be making program history if it makes it to the top-line, too.

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UNC Asheville to win the Big South Tournament (+470 on FanDuel)

  • Implied odds: 17.54%
  • BartTorvik odds: 21.60%
  • Expected value: $23.12 on a $100 wager

Didn’t think you were going to get some analysis on the Big South in this piece, did you? I won’t pretend to be an expert on that league, but BartTorvik is showing some value on UNC Asheville to cut down the nets at the Big South Tournament. The Bulldogs have the 2nd-best odds to win this tournament, per BartTorvik, behind only High Point (33.1%). This event begins on March 6 — the Bulldogs will play their regular season finale on Saturday — along with several other low-major conference tournaments.

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Honorable mentions

Saint Mary’s to make the Final Four (+1600 at Caesars) — This prop also got a shoutout last week, and has come down in value some, so I relegated it to honorable mention status for this week. But BartTorvik is still very bullish on the Gaels compared to the betting markets and gives them a 9.4% chance to reach the Final Four. The expected value for this bet currently sits at $59.80 on a $100 wager.

Charlotte to win the AAC Tournament (+1200 at FanDuel) — This prop carries an expected value of $31.30 on a $100 bet, which comes in just below SMU’s EV for winning this tournament. Charlotte is a much bigger long-shot than the Mustangs, but there’s still some value on this price if you want to back the 49ers.

Kansas to make the Final Four (+800 at FanDuel) — The Jayhawks haven’t quite looked like themselves lately, but there is a bit of EV ($20.60) on KU to make the Final Four. KU has lost 2 of its last 4 games overall and has largely been playing without All-America candidate Kevin McCullar during that stretch. McCullar’s return is uncertain, so if you’re buying the Jayhawks at this price, you’re hoping he will return in time for March Madness and help the Jayhawks get rolling.

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