March Madness is just around the corner, but there’s still plenty of work to be done in February for the nation’s top men’s college basketball teams. February Fever, anyone? No? OK then, moving on.

Anyway, while the Power 5 conferences all have firm leaders in the standings, there are still some values to be had for sports bettors willing to take some semi-longshots.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at each Power 5 conference and who the favorite to win is. Then we’ll look at the best value pick to win the league’s regular-season title.

Note: We’re consulting DraftKings Sportsbook for these odds, which were current as of the morning of Monday, February 19, 2024. Get in on the action at DraftKings today and you can score a No-Sweat First Bet up to $1,000:


States: NY, NJ, PA, CT, AZ, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, NH, OH, OR, TN, VA, WV, WY




BET $5



Favorite: North Carolina (-280)

The Tar Heels look to be the class of the ACC once again, but this team has shown some vulnerabilities at times.

North Carolina has suffered losses on the road in league play at Georgia Tech and at Syracuse. Those teams are a combined 11-19 in ACC action.

This Saturday, the Tar Heels head to Virginia. Yikes.

The Cavaliers play at the slowest pace in the country and have the nation’s No. 8 defense, according to KenPom. If the Hoos can slow the high-flying Tar Heels down and score a win in Charlottesville, North Carolina could fall from the top of the ACC standings.

While you can’t bet on the Tar Heels to win the ACC regular-season title in the state of North Carolina this year, sports betting goes live on March 11, 2024. Bettors in the Tar Heel State can learn everything they need to know about North Carolina sports betting before it launches ahead of the ACC Tournament.

Value: Virginia (+1100)

Not only does this pesky, veteran-laden, defensive-minded Virginia squad get to host North Carolina on Saturday, it also plays at Duke on March 2. Basically, the Cavaliers control their own fate heading into March, and that’s a good spot to be in.

Can they make up a game on the Tar Heels and 0.5 games on the Blue Devils? If they play their normal stifling style of basketball and squeeze the life out of their opponents’ offenses, why not?

No, +1100 isn’t a great value for a team that has to beat 2 of the top-10 squads in the country to claim the regular-season title, but this is basically a 3-team race for the ACC crown between UNC, Virginia and Duke.

Big 12

Favorite: Houston (-190)

Houston once again looks like a Final Four contender. The move to the Big 12 hasn’t slowed the Cougars down at all. They’re a defensive machine and look poised for a deep run in March in both the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.

Value: Kansas (+1500)

As much as it pains me to admit as a Mizzou graduate, when you can get the Jayhawks at odds like these, you have to take them. Their record on the road has been awful during Big 12 play, but they did earn a big road win over a ranked Oklahoma team on Saturday. They also get to end the season at Houston in a game that could decide the league crown.

Kansas is 1.5 games behind Houston as of February 19, and it doesn’t feel like the Jayhawks have played their best basketball yet. That’s a scary thought for future Kansas opponents.

Big Ten

Favorite: Purdue (-4000)

The Boilermakers could have basically put the B1G regular-season title out of reach on Sunday at Ohio State. Instead, they left Columbus with a disappointing loss to a bad Ohio State team that just fired its head coach. That leaves the door open a crack for other teams to climb the B1G ladder.

Yes, Zach Edey, Braden Smith and company are formidable obstacles in the way of any would-be title thief, but there is one squad lurking 1.5 games behind Purdue as we enter another exciting week of conference play …

Value: Illinois (+1500)

The Illini scored an impressive road win at Maryland on Saturday. At 10-4 in B1G action, they’re 1.5 games behind Purdue’s 12-3 league mark. They also get to host Purdue on March 5. State Farm Arena is not an easy place for visitors. In fact, the Illini have only lost at home once all year.

The biggest obstacle for the Illini might be a road trip to Wisconsin on March 2. Madison is a scary place to play, and that’s right before the Purdue game. Illinois can’t get caught looking ahead past the Badgers.

As far as the B1G goes, Illinois is really the only team that can be considered a realistic value pick at this point. The race will almost certainly come down to the Boilermakers and the Illini.


Favorite: Arizona (-1000)

The Wildcats aren’t running away with the Pac-12 like some expected, as Washington State (+400) is currently half a game behind Arizona in the standings. The Wildcats have 4 home games and 3 road contests remaining on the schedule, which looks fairly manageable. One more Washington State loss could be all it takes for Arizona to lock down the regular-season crown.

But if you’re looking for a longshot value team in the league, how about …

Value: UCLA (+7500)

UCLA suffered a  major setback on Sunday night by losing at home against Utah, but the Bruins are still in an interesting position down the stretch. Yes, it would take a collapse by Arizona to see the Bruins climb to the top of the Pac-12, but crazier things have happened.

UCLA hosts Arizona on March 7 and also gets a crack at Washington State on March 2. Win out, get some help in the form of a couple of unexpected Wildcat losses and who knows? At +7500 odds, it might be worthwhile to give the Bruins a long look.


Favorite: Alabama (-140)

The SEC features one of the tightest conference races in all of college basketball. The Crimson Tide currently hold a 1 game lead over Tennessee atop the standings, but there are 6 teams within 2 games of first place as we enter the back half of February:

Would it be shocking to see any of those 6 teams win the league crown? Well, maybe an up-and-down Florida team. But outside of that, I can certainly visualize any of the other 5 winning the regular-season championship.

Nate Oats has a proven track record of regular-season (and SEC Tournament) success at Alabama, so the Crimson Tide are deserving favorites.

My one issue with the Tide is this. They’re only 2-2 against the other teams at the top of the standings. They lost to Tennessee, beat South Carolina and went 1-1 against Auburn. Down the stretch, they face Florida twice, Tennessee again and Kentucky in Lexington.

So while the Tide might be on top for now, they have a tough road down the stretch. That leaves the door open for my value pick …

Value: Kentucky (+1800)

The Wildcats have been frustrating this year. That’s a sentence I could have (and often have actually) written several times over the past decade. Inconsistency in conference play has been a source of consternation in Big Blue Nation.

But, in terms of pure talent, as is often the case with John Calipari teams, the Wildcats have more than any other SEC school. Once again, it’s just a question of whether or not Coach Cal can squeeze the most out of his young team’s potential.

The good news? Here’s the Wildcats’ remaining schedule:

  • at LSU
  • vs. Alabama
  • at Mississippi State
  • vs. Arkansas
  • vs. Vanderbilt
  • at Tennessee

So Kentucky has 4 games against teams in the bottom half of the SEC standings and gets to take shots at both Alabama and Tennessee. If the Wildcats win out (admittedly, that’s a pretty big if), they should be in a good position to claim the league’s regular-season crown. At +1800 odds, it’s worth a long look.