By Phil Simon
There are other ways to wager on sports helping make the industry a multi-billion dollar affair. If you want you can go ahead and wait until the games begin and start wagering on the point spread, moneyline or total. That’s fine and the results bring an instant gratification, or disappointment depending on the outcome of that wager. Another way of betting on sports is in the futures market. Sportsbooks will set odds before a season starts and fans can place a wager on their favorite team to win a division title, conference crown and a championship. What you can bet on depends on the sport, and in this article we’ll take a look into college basketball national title futures.
What is a Futures Bet?
I guess the first thing you need to know is what exactly is a futures bet? Well, it’s quite simple actually. With this type of bet you are looking beyond the scope of a season and more to a league champion. But you’re placing the bet well ahead of the time the winner is decided. In other words you are betting on something that will happen in the future. Keep in mind that the bet is not on an individual game or series rather it’s on the entire season leading up to determining the outcome of the bet.
Now we don’t have a crystal ball and no one knows what’s going to happen in six months, and if you lack the patience when it comes betting time, entering the futures market may not be for you. It is a fun way to track a team over the course of a season and the payouts are nice since a lot has to happen in order to cash the ticket.
When betting on a college basketball national champion there are a number of things to consider. First, there are upwards of 350 teams participating at the NCAA Division I level. These teams are all trying to reach the NCAA Tournament where 68 teams will be selected. Just like every other sport there are teams that have a better chance of getting to the tournament and winning a title than others. Sportsbooks will offer odds on every team with a lot of them priced out of the market because let’s face it they have no chance of winning a title. But you get the idea. There are a lot of teams to pick from and that translates into better odds.
Lines are typically set before the season starts to get the most bang for the betting buck. And books typically have odds posted throughout the course of a season and most times through the tournament. If a certain team is doing well and the requirements for winning become less, the payout amount will also decrease. With the 2020-21 college basketball season inching closer to a conclusion, let’s take a look at some futures odds that have changed since the beginning of the campaign.
At the start of the season Gonzaga University was a favorite to win the national championship with posted odds of +900. After winning their first 17 games and cementing their status, the line has dropped to +275. A $100 wager on the Zags before the season would pay $900 if they were to win the national championship. If they continue to win the odds will likely shrink more.
On the flip side there is Duke, a perennial title contender. The Blue Devils opened the year at +1400, but they’ve gone the other direction. An uncharacteristic poor season has seen Duke’s odds plummet to +10000. Now that we’ve witnessed how average Duke is can we risk throwing down on them? Well, it depends on what you think their chances are. It’s always a good idea to bet with your head and not your heart. You might be a big Duke fan and therefore want to see them win. But the reality is they probably aren’t good enough, at least this season.
There are so many variables that factor into futures betting. No one can predict injuries, players leaving the program and how a global pandemic might affect a team. But you know what? Somebody has to win, unless of course that pandemic thing cancels the tournament.
March Madness, as the NCAA Tournament is called, creates a lot of excitement for the sport and at the betting window. It’s one of the most highly wagered events on the sporting calendar. The cancellation of the 2020 tournament due to COVID cost a lot of money, both to the schools and sportsbooks. You can bet the NCAA will do everything in its power to make sure the 2021 tournament gets played. Wait, is that a wager at sportsbooks?