It's officially time. The first AP poll is released, some of your football teams are dead to you and the temperature is changing. College basketball season is a few weeks away which means it's time. It's time for futures. The time where you are looking to start that magical ticket run and cash it like we did with Nova (25/1) in 2018 and Virginia in 2019(18/1). While we didn't have a title future hit last year we did have Houston +900 and Gonzaga +150 in the Final Four. So let's get into it.
Now if you're a Nova/UCLA fan allow me to explain the headline since you're probably mad at you. Both teams are going to win their conference. Both teams are going to win 25+ games. But I don't see them as national title contenders. Everyone is falling in love with UCLA because they made a run to the Final Four and bring back basically everyone. I get it. But it's a little fools gold. They were an 11 seed. They finished 13th on KenPom after the run. If the committee picked another team instead of them guess what? They aren't ranked or they are in the 20s and not 2. That's where I have a problem. Like yeah Jaime Jacquez is one of the more underrated players in America. Everyone knows Johnny Juzang after his March run. But remember, they BARELY got in the tournament. Even then it took a ridiculous comeback win in overtime to beat Michigan State to make the field of 64. That's why I'm fading them and think them at 2 is way overrated. They should be more like 9 if we're basing it on this season and not letting last year corrupt our minds a bit. Can I interest you in a team like UCLA but better? Allow me to present my first future.
I know Purdue fans and I have a long history to where I don't trust your program. That changes this year. Trevion Williams is a likely preseason All-American and coming off a year where he averaged 15.5 ppg and 9.1 rpg. But the guy I love? Jaden Ivey. The sophomore guard scored 11 per game as a freshman, has the ability to take over a game and I'm a sucker for good guards in March. It's how you win. They only lose Aaron Wheeler from last year's team who was a No. 4 seed before choking the first round game to North Texas. If they win that they are for sure higher than 7 right now. It doesn't make sense for them to be behind UCLA in rankings or in betting numbers. The other thing I love about this inside-out combo is Williams is a good passer out of the post. He's not a black hole when the ball goes into him. He has good footwork, great even. He has a feel for the game.
Now Villanova fans let me talk about you guys quick. You know I love the program. They are a blue blood, no question about it. Howevah, No. 4? Not for me. Collin Gillespie and DCR coming off injury. Correction: I forgot that DCR is actually done playing. He's removed from the roster. Bryan Antoine is still hurt. This team is going to struggle defensively. Despite losing JRE and the absurd mismatch he was on offense, I just trust Jay Wright there. They'll run PnR and ball screens. They'll shoot the hell out of the ball. That's not where I'm concerned. I just don't trust this team defensively to be a national title winner. I know Trey Patterson being there early last year will help and Nnanna Njoku will help there. But Nova's defense was relatively bad last year and you lose JRE on that side of the ball. That's where I'm hesitant.
This is the 3rd best team in the country and I'm not passing on Chris Beard. This team is LOADED with talent. They bring back Courtney Ramey, Andrew Jones and Jase Febres. Then you add in Marcus Carr, Dylan Disu, Tre Mitchell, Timmy Allen, Christian Bishop and Devin Askew? Yeah, I trust Beard with this sort of talent and depth. We know what he can do, he took Tech to a title game. He can mix and match his lineup based on opponent. He has the depth to handle March. Gotta have them on my card.
Come on, you didn't think I'd add them? Virginia got their revenge tour after losing to UMBC. Kentucky has a chance to do the same here. 10 on the AP poll, top-5 in betting markets. Calipari went and brought in transfers, he adds shooting and he brings back guys, something people always knocked him for. We know they'll be able to defend because that's where Calipari has always been a good coach. The question will be will he truly adjust the offense to be more modern. If he does so, +1300 feels like great value.
Devo Davis is the breakout player this year that everyone knows about. Also getting Chris Lykes from Miami is huge. He fits what Muss likes to do offensively and speed the game up perfectly. This is a typical Muss team. He's bringing in transfers - Stanley Umude from South Dakota is a prime example of a guy who is an up-transfer that will succeed. If Jaylin Williams can take a leap, this is going to be another Elite 8 type team. I'll take a shot on them at 25/1, especially after some of these guys had the run last year. Oh and remember the name JD Notae. He's a guy that can come off the bench and get you 15 in the blink of an eye.
St. Bonaventure +6500
This is where we're getting into some longshots. They aren't as talented as Houston from last year BUT St. Bonaventure does return everyone and all 5 guys averaged at least 10 per game. The biggest concern is the fact that they didn't really do anything in the nonconference last year including LSU kicking their ass in the Tournament. But I'm a sucker for guard play and Kyle Lofton is one of the best point guards in the country. They also will be one of the best defensive teams in the country thanks to Osun Osunniyi, the reigning A-10 DPOY.
A team that is a borderline top-25 team at this sort of value is something I'll play. They are bringing back Paul Scruggs and Nate Johnson for another year. Scruggs is the real key here. He made a huge leap last year and could contend for Big East POY behind Gillespie and Julian Champagnie. They are DEEP at the guard position and experience. They really got killed last year with COVID pauses and injuries to Ben Stanley and Deionte Miles. That should all be gone this year and throw in Jack Nunge who is a transfer from Iowa I'm pretty high on. He was good despite being stuck behind Luka Garza. Sneaky Big East challenger here too.
Duke - Just kidding, fuck Coach K farewell tour.
I know people will scream about value and I get that. But remember this stat.
I don't have any of the preseason top-5 which is probably dumb, but I'm taking shots on the top-10 teams. If you're expected to be good, there's a solid chance you win the title. Breaking news, I know. I am debating adding Kansas at +1500 too. They have really flown under the radar in terms of teams people are talking about all the time. Not sure how that happened, but here we are.
We're just a few weeks away from the season. Let's fucking go.