The news that Joel Embiid may be out of the tournament is sending ripples through the futures market, and now the odds to win the 2014 NCAA basketball national championship are starting to get more and more interesting. There are a handful of teams worth gambling on long term, and though Florida remains the “best” bet, they’re not untouchable. Let’s look at which teams have a chance with some moderate numbers.
The Best Odds To Win the 2014 NCAA Basketball National Championship?
The Creighton Bluejays Can Win The 2014 basketball national championship if Doug McDermott makes even more history (+3000).
Only three of the last 19 Wooden Award winners have actually won a national title in that same year. Anthony Davis and the Kentucky Wildcats did so two seasons ago, while Shane Battier and Duke did the same in 2001 and Ed O’Bannon won both titles with UCLA in 1995. McDermott is well on his way to being the next winner of the illustrious award, and that should make you a little nervous about the Bluejays long term.
The surging popularity of McDermott is all well founded and definitely deserved, but it’s put a huge spotlight on a team that is not rock solid. Fortunately, there’s no such thing as an unbeatable basketball team (yes I’m aware of the Shockers but the MVC is the MVC…let’s wait until tournament time). The other good thing teams with Wooden Award winners? They usually go pretty deep in to March Madness. Only 16% of Wooden Award winners have won a national title, but when you think of how many great players there are at this level – especially this year – I truly believe that says more about how special McDermott is than anything else.
The UNC Tar Heels can win the 2014 basketball national championship if they simply remember how they got to where they are (+4000).
This hasn’t been the Tar Heels’ greatest season by a long shot, but what they have to remember as a team is that they overcame a very rough start which included a terrifying three game losing streak in early January. They became a complete afterthought in the sportsbook and in the rankings until they ripped off a 12 games win streak, that also generated a 9 straight covers.
And that’s the big thing – this team can streak like nobody’s business. Success in knockout style tournaments isn’t necessarily granted to the best team. Sometimes it just goes to the team that gets hot and stays hot. UNC has a coach that knows what it takes to win, and this is a program that instills pride in their players. It’s hard to keep track of all the incredible talent we’ve enjoyed this year, but James Michael McAdoo and Marcus Paige are one of the best duos in the game today. I know that UNC seems like a lost cause after losing the regular season finale to Duke, but you can also argue that that will keep them motivated.
I have less concerns about UNC than most others do. They feel like an Elite Eight team to me, and getting farther along in the tournament is half the battle when you’re betting on who’s going to win the 2014 basketball national championship. The main problem with UNC long term is that bracketology has them in the same bracket as Michigan and Florida. That could change, but if they run in to Florida it might be game over.
Then again, McAdoo and Paige might have something to say about that. Track them in the ACC Tournament to see how they respond to the pressure. But right now, even as a massive public team, those +4000 odds are pretty enticing.
The Louisville Cardinals can win the 2014 basketball national championship if Russ Smith plays like he did last year (+1500).
I spent the weekend watching Russ Smith completely demolish Shabazz Napier and the UConn Huskies (much to my wallet’s chagrin). I contemplated Smith’s basketball future, wondering and hoping if there was a place in the NBA for him. The guy is really a special talent, if undersized.
Defending champions are a rarity since the tournament expanded in 1985. Only Duke and Florida have notched back-to-back titles. Could Louisville do the same? I think it’s worth a thought. You really can’t spread your money too thin in the college futures and Louisville has a lot of qualities that you have to like including fantastic team defense, an inside presence in Harrell, an outside stick of dynamite in Smith and the type of bench depth and team unity that makes them a seriously attractive favorite.
You have to decide which favorite you’re going to lean on in the tournament. Right now Florida is the best overall bet to make, but Louisville has to be up there. They defied all logic last year when they outlasted Michigan and should not be taken lightly when you’re trying to sort out your wagers for which team is going to win the 2014 basketball national championship.