College basketball predictions, odds: Kentucky, Texas A&M future bet plays
With less than two months before the start of March Madness, now is a good time to update our college basketball futures portfolio.
Here are two teams Im buying in the long-term betting markets:
Kentucky: SEC regular-season champs (12/1, FanDuel)
Kentucky still has two conference games left against Tennessee, one against Alabama and one against Auburn.
But aside from those, the Cats have a relative cakewalk to the conference tournament.
They still have four games left against Arkansas and Vanderbilt, two of the only three SEC teams ranked sub-100 in KenPom.
They also catch an overvalued Ole Miss team, and seven of their final 13 games are at Rupp Arena.
So, at 4-2 in conference play while tied for third in the SEC, now is the time to buy the Wildcats.
Auburn (5-1 in SEC) and Alabama (5-1) still have one game on tap after the Crimson Tide knocked off the Tigers at home on Wednesday.
Alabama has just one remaining game against the SEC cellar dwellers (Arkansas), while Auburn has only two (Vandy, Missouri). Meanwhile, Tennessee (4-1) plays seven of its final 13 games on the road.
Relatively, Kentucky has the easiest path to the top of the SEC.
I know they just lost to South Carolina, but the Wildcats are still an elite squad, particularly on the offensive end.
The five-out, guard-heavy offense that John Calipari has fallen backward into is cooking opposing defenses, as the Cats rank fourth nationally in offensive efficiency, sixth in eFG% and fourth in turnover rate.
Even better, the comeuppance of 7-foot-2 Croatian Zvonimir Ivisic has transformed the squads upside.
The freshman, who had previously played for the Montenegro-based professional team, was initially ruled ineligible, but the nations courts ruled all ineligible players immediately eligible, and now the unicorn is allowed to roam courts freely.
Kentucky forward Zvonimir Ivisic. Getty ImagesHis ceiling as an interior defender and rim protector is stratospheric. He can stretch the floor on offense, morphing well into Kentuckys spread design as an inside-out big man.
His feel and vision as a short-roll passer gives the Wildcats an added swing-the-ball dimension.
Big Z should fly up draft boards, and Kentucky should fly to the top of the SEC over the next month.
Texas A&M: NCAA Tournament champs (80/1, BetMGM)
Per ShotQuality, the Aggies rank first nationally in Offensive Efficiency and third overall. Yet, they rank 36th in KenPoms offensive efficiency, including 348th in eFG%.
Wheres the disconnect?
ShotQuality projects efficiency and shooting numbers based on the quality of shots taken and allowed rather than if they fall or miss.
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And the Aggies are creating good looks, ranking in the top-50 nationally in ShotQualitys Shot Selection metric, but nothing is falling.
Theyre shooting only 26 percent from beyond the arc and generating 0.78 points per possession on catch-and-shoot jumpers, both among the nations worst marks.
But thats unsustainable; no team should shoot that poorly throughout a full season.
Based on the quality of shots taken, Texas A&M should shoot closer to 33 percent from 3 and generate closer to 1.3 PPP. Plenty of positive regression looms in College Station, and once the shots fall, the Aggies should start rolling.
Nevertheless, instead of targeting them to win the SEC like Kentucky, Id rather take a flier with Texas A&M to win the whole thing because the Aggies profile as a team who can win six straight games in the tournament.
Texas A&M point guard Wade Taylor Getty ImagesThe Aggies are led by an elite point guard in Wade Taylor, and they crash the offensive boards better than any team in the nation.
Past teams have seen tournament success behind hot guard play and relentless second-chance shots.
Now is the time to buy Texas A&M in the futures markets, as the teams upside is much higher than the odds reflect.
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