College basketball futures bets: Big East odds, predictions
In the college basketball world, Big East conference play tips off on Tuesday night.
The Big East might be the most entertaining conference in the country.
There are three legitimate national title contenders Connecticut, Marquette, and Creighton and Villanova is always dangerous.
The bottom of the league is ugly — DePaul is a dumpster fire — but the middle tier is highly entertaining. Butler is playing way over its head (9-2), Providence looks good with a new head coach (9-2), and St. Johns (7-3) could get hot under Rick Pitino at any moment.
Ive seen enough from these teams in non-conference play, and we have a solid analytical sample size to work with, so I have a decent feel for the confidence at large.
Im unsure how the league will shake out, but I know which team Im buying heading into conference play.
Big East Odds: Futures
Big East Prediction: Futures
I feel very confident that UConn, Marquette or Creighton will win the Big East regular-season title this season.
Nova has an outside shot, but I dont think Kyle Neptune has enough offensive firepower to overcome the top three.
The injury to Justin Moore also hurts, although he should be back soon enough (his apparent status is day-to-day).
Regarding the top three squads, Im buying Creighton futures stocks in bulk.
My handicap is simple: three teams can win the Big East title, and Im buying the one with the longest odds.
The advanced statistical sites are mixed on the Big East rankings.
KenPom ranks it as No. 1 UConn, No. 2 Marquette, and No. 3 Creighton.
Bart Torvik ranks Crieghton above Marquette but behind UConn.
But at the minimum, Creighton has as good of a shot, or better, than Marquette or UConn at winning the league. So, Ill happily snag the 4-1 while it lasts.
That said, price isnt the only reason Im all in on Creighton this season.
Ryan Kalkbrenner #11 of the Creighton Bluejays attempts a free throw. Getty ImagesShotQuality projects Creighton as the best team in the Big East, and theres a specific reason I want to zero in on that ranking.
ShotQuality projects a teams offensive and defensive efficiency based on the quality of shots taken and allowed, regardless of whether they make or miss.
Its a way to cut through shooting variance and project regression.
SQs metrics love Creighton, a direct result of Greg McDermotts two-way scheme centering around superstar big man Ryan Kalkbrenner.
Offensively, the Jays play through the post with Kalkbrenner, who scores a whopping 1.36 PPP in post-up sets (96th percentile among D-I players) and 12 paint points per game while shooting 72% on the interior.
They then play inside-out off him, running plenty of perimeter off-ball screen and handoff actions to generate open jumpers for elite shotmakers like Baylor Schiereman (37% from 3) and Steven Alexander (39% from 3).
So, the Bluejays score primarily at the rim or from beyond the arc, and ShotQualitys metrics project them as the best spacing and shot-making team in the nation.
Defensively, the Jays run an elite drop coverage scheme. Theyll overplay ball-handlers and shooters on the perimeter and wings, funneling them downhill toward Kalkbrenner, who sits down toward the rim.
Given that Kalk is a 7-foot-1 elite rim protector (2.6% block rate), opposing players are hesitant to attack the rim, opting for inefficient mid-range jumpers and floaters.
So, Creighton denies opponents shots at the rim or from deep, ranking first nationally in opponent rim-and-3 rate (66%).
Continue to be amazed by Creighton's defensive shot chart. The KalkDrop is so beautiful. pic.twitter.com/eQlKeMADjy
— Tanner McGrath (@tannerstruth) December 19, 2023The result is a near-perfect brand of modern two-way college basketball, hence why Creighton ranks so highly in ShotQualitys metrics.
Creighton ranks second nationally in effective field goal percentage (60.3%), sixth in 3-point rate (49.8%) and third in 3-point rate allowed (25.4%).
Creighton takes efficient shots and doesnt allow efficient shots, and thats why Im so high on the Bluejays.
But the Jays arent just a one-trick pony.
Point guard Ashworth is a pick-and-roll maestro, providing a half-court bailout option for McDermott.
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Throw in Kalkbrenners absurd versatility as a roll-man, and Creighton ranks third nationally in pick-and-roll points per possession (1.12).
Schierman is an elite shot-creator and isolation defender. Hes quickly becoming one of the nations best two-way wings and another bailout option for McDermott when things break down.
When Kalkbrenner went down with a first-half ankle injury against Alabama last Saturday, Schierman stepped up, making big play after big play to keep the game within reach until the big man returned.
He finished with 20 points, nine assists, and six rebounds and was a +5 in a three-point win.
One minute of Baylor Scheierman (20pts/9ast/6reb) owning the University of Alabama last night pic.twitter.com/9BS16INp45
— Jalin Troutman (@JalinTroutman35) December 17, 2023The overall profile of this Creighton team is also worth mentioning. The Bluejays rank 16th nationally in experience, 42nd in minutes continuity and 24th in average height. Its a veteran-led team with length and range that knows how to play together otherwise known as a championship contender.
I love the profile of Creighton, the way the Bluejays play, and the team’s value in the futures market.
Crieghtons the Big East team to buy entering conference play.
Big East Pick: Futures
Big East Regular-Season Winner Creighton (+400) at Caesars
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