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Top-10 college basketball future and prop bets

14 March 2011

Bracket fever has finally arrived. It doesn’t matter if you’re a college basketball diehard or someone who can’t tell the difference between Jared Sullinger and J. D. Salinger. You will fill out a bracket. You will watch every game possible. And, if you’re like me, your bracket will be busted by Friday afternoon.

Thankfully, there are many other betting options besides your traditional bracket pools. You can bet straight lines of course. If you’re like my colleague Vin Narayanan, you can bet second half lines. Or you can bet on props and futures. So here are Casino City’s top-10 prop and future bets for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, courtesy of Bodog Sportsbook and Racebook.

10. Over/under on highest point total by one team during the Round of 64

Bodog has set the over/under on this prop at 100 ½. You are getting even money by taking the under, and -140 taking the over. Even though you’re getting better odds by taking the under, go with the over. The last time a team didn’t hit the century mark in the first round was 2006. And it’s not just No. 1 seeds beating up on No. 16 seeds. Tennessee put up 121 points as a No. 5 seed against Long Beach State back in 2007.

9. Jordan Hamilton as the leading scorer in Round of 64

This prop bet is on which star player will score the most points in the Round of 64. A strong case can be made for several players. Connecticutt's Kemba Walker is priced well at 7/2, but he played five games last week in the Big East Tournament and fatigue might set in. You're not getting good value with Duke's Nolan Smith at 4/1. Texas' Jordan Hamilton is the right play here. He has the best combination of value (9/1) and performance, so I’m going with him.

8. Robert Sacre as the Canadian special

Bodog is offering a cool prop bet on which Canadian player will average the most points in the tournament. The favorite is Syracuse junior Kris Joseph at +150. Texas teammates Cory Joseph (+500) and Tristan Thompson (+160) are also both included in the bet. I’m going with Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre at +500. The value is there and Sacre is a junior on a Gonzaga team that is tournament-tested. He's used to tournament pressure.

7. Two buzzer beaters in the first round

The tournament is known for buzzer beaters, and being on the end of one can be thrilling or heartbreaking. Bodog knows the appeal of buzzer beaters and is offering a line on how many will occur during the Round of 64. A buzzer beater is defined as "as a shot that occurs as time expires to win the game. A shot that forces overtime does not count towards the wager. If the opposing team is able to inbound the ball after the shot has dropped with time left on the clock, winning shot will not qualify as a buzzer beater." There is no way you can really predict these things, because they can happen in nearly any game. You get 6/1 for two buzzer beaters, and that’s what I’m going with.

6. Two No. 1 seeds making the Final Four

I haven’t filled out my entire bracket yet. I do, however, have my Final Four figured out and two top seeds (Duke and Kansas) reaching the Final Four. I'm getting +160 that two top seeds will make it that far, which leads to my next bet…

5. Over/under on #1 seeds making the Final Four

The line is 1 ½ , so after my two top seeds in the Final Four wager, I'll take the over at -125. This is a much safer bet than my previous one, but you are getting much worse odds.

4. Margin of victory Over/under in 'first round'

Everyone remembers the buzzer beaters from the first round (Sorry NCAA, Tuesday's games are play-in games and not the first round). But you don't see these buzzer beaters against the top seeds. That’s because these teams are usually blowing out their lower ranked opponents. The over/under line on the Round of 64 games this year is 37 ½. I’m hoping a team like Ohio State or Duke won’t be afraid of running up the score in the first round, so I’m going with the over.

3. A Kansas player as MOP

My friends and family know me as the person who picks Kansas to win the national championship every year. And that's not changing this year (see below). At Bodog you can bet on who will be named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, with over 60 options available. I'm hedging my bets here and taking Marcus Morris (11/2), Markieff Morris (10/1) and Tyshawn Taylor (20/1).

2. Ohio State as the first No. 1 seed to fall

Ohio State is the top overall seed in this tournament, and for good reason. They’ve only lost twice this season. They cruised to a Big 10 championship after an overtime scare from Northwestern. But the Buckeyes face a tough path to the championship, especially compared to another No. 1 seed, Pittsburgh. Ohio State is better than Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh’s path is softer. The Buckeyes face potential upsets in the second round against either George Mason or Villanova, and if they make it past that round, they might have to face a tough Kentucky or West Virginia team. And with Pittsburgh at +200 and facing an easier path to the Sweet 16, I'll take Ohio State at +250 to be the first top seed eliminated.

1. Kansas as the national champion

Kansas is absolutely loaded this season. Of course, they were absolutely loaded last season, and lost in the second round to Northern Iowa. I’m still a believer this year. They have upperclassmen with experience (the Morris brothers and Taylor). They have a dynamic freshman who can go off at any time (Josh Selby). And they have one of the best coaches in college basketball (Bill Self). They may not be the number one overall seed, but according to Bodog they are the betting favorite at 4/1. Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, baby.
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