March Madness is just around the corner, so now is a great time to scalp value on future odds for the NCAA Tournament winner.
The SportsLine Projection Model has you covered, as it has run simulations of all the contending teams, and generated expected value for their price versus their true odds to win.
SportsLine's NCAA Tournament values
SportsLine incorporated the current prices offered at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook and compared them to the simulation outcomes.
The results show which teams are either overvalued in the market, provide an overlay or priced just about right.
The current data suggests the Indiana Hoosiers, who beat Iowa for a share of first place in the Big 10 on Thursday night, are the biggest value on the board at 30/1.
They have nearly a 2 percent (1.81) better chance of winning the national title than the odds they are being given.
On the flip side, SportsLine sees Kansas as the least consumer-friendly team, with an expected value of -7.58 percent based on the 7/1 price for the Jayhawks.
Here are some analysis and notes on a handful of teams SportsLine considered in the simulations:
Michigan State Spartans (6/1): It's no surprise that the top-rated team in the SportsLine Top 25 also is the one oddsmakers see as the current favorite. Coach Tom Izzo has taken the battle-tested Spartans to the Final Four seven times, including last year with a lesser-talented club. Michigan State has its usual, tournament-friendly formula of punishing defense and strong rebounding working in concert, and a game-changing superstar in Denzel Valentine. Although the price doesn't provide a ton of value, the SportsLine Projection Model sees the Spartans winning about 14 percent of the time. This makes them a pretty strong play for the money.
North Carolina Tar Heels (7/1): Coach Roy Williams has one of his most talented teams in recent memory, and they looked about a year away last season when they lost to eventual runner-up Wisconsin. The Tar Heels have a style that has proven tournament-tough, as most opponents wilt under their relentless pressure and fast-breaking ways. SportsLine's value rating of -6.42 percent says stay away, but I wouldn't be surprised to see North Carolina in the Final Four.
Kansas Jayhawks (7/1): Under coach Bill Self, the Jayhawks seem to alternate early exits with deep runs in the NCAA Tournament, a trend that would suggest they are track for a title run this year. Similar to North Carolina, Kansas was talented but lacked seasoning last year, and exited with a second-round loss to Wichita State. The Jayhawks have a great leader in Wayne Selden and one of the top combo forwards in the nation in Perry Ellis. I think Kansas is a contender to win it all, but SportsLine's value rating of -7.58 suggests a buyer-beware approach on the Jayhawks.
Villanova Wildcats (10/1): Jay Wright's Wildcats are one of the best defensive clubs in the country and, as usual, his guard-heavy lineup is fun to watch race up and down the court. But perpetual lack of inside strength has long been Villanova's crutch, as the program has just one Final Four run in an otherwise outstanding tenure with Wright as its leader. I see the same issue potentially presenting an obstacle this year, as a similarly strong defensive unit could slow Villanova's guards down and win a close game. Last year, the Wildcats were a No. 1 seed but were upset in the second round by N.C. State. I envision a similar fate this year, but SportsLine sees an overlay (at plus-0.94 percent) at the current price.
Maryland Terrapins (10/1): The Terrapins appear to have the makings of a potential Final Four team, as they are led by a gifted playmaker in Melo Trimble and an underrated supporting cast that ranks among the best starting lineups in the nation. Although depth is a concern, I think Maryland could be worth a shot as this mid-range price. But SportsLine suggests the vig on the Terrapins, resulting in -2.27 percent of expected value, makes them a bad price for backers.
Duke Blue Devils (10/1): The lack of inside strength for the defending national champs was exposed early in ACC play, as the Blue Devils were beat up in the paint and defeated by Miami, Notre Dame and Syracuse. Led by standout Grayson Allen, Duke still has plenty of perimeter power, but such one-dimensional clubs have long been fool's gold in the NCAA Tournament. Similar to Tiger Woods in a golf tournament, this price reflects reputation and public favor. I'd pass on the Devils, and SportsLine agrees as it sees the payoff offering a whopping -7.02 percent versus their true odds to win it all.
Oklahoma Sooners (10/1): Led by perhaps the nation's best overall player in Buddy Hield and an underrated supporting cast, the Sooners have spent a lot of time has the top-ranked team in the country in most polls and the SportsLine Top 25. Lost amid the deserved publicity Hield receives for his sweet stroke is that Oklahoma is also adept at going to the basket and going inside, meaning it has other resources should Hield have a cold night. I think the Sooners have decent value at this price, but SportsLine gives them a modest rating of 2.65 percent negative equity.
Kentucky Wildcats (15/1): This is perhaps the most tempting price you'll see on a Kentucky club during the John Calipari era. The Wildcats have been wildly inconsistent, though recent performances suggest they are trending upward. They have one of the best point guards in the nation in Tyler Ulis and one of the best pure scorers in freshman Jamal Murray. I think if this team peaks at the right time, it could be cutting down the nets in April. For the time being, SportsLine disagrees, and projects a return of -3.61 percent at this price.
Purdue Boilermakers (25/1): SportsLine sees an overlay on Purdue, and it's easy to see why. The Boilermakers have a pair of 7-footers who present a matchup nightmare to any potential tournament opponent. A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas average a combined 24.7 points, 12.2 and 3.7 rebounds per game. In other words, they are big and good, a lethal combination that's hard to find. SportsLine projects an overlay of 0.83 percent on the Boilermakers, and I agree this price is a bargain.
Texas A&M Aggies (30/1): The Aggies spent much of the early going as one of the surprise teams in the country, but they have been felled by a prolonged slide of late. They are a tempting tournament proposition of because of their athleticism and relentless pressure defense, which could carry them deep into the tournament. However, SportsLine doesn't think this price is right, and suggests a -2.31 percent return on Texas A&M.
Iowa State Cyclones (50/1): The Cyclones have huge appeal at this whopping price, as they have enough talent to make a Final Four run. Not only do they boast one of the country's most skilled, versatile big men in Georges Niang, but point guard Monte Morris is one of the most underrated playmakers in the nation. I'd be willing to take a shot at this number, and SportsLine also sees the value, as it projects an overlay of .80 percent versus the true odds.
Josh Nagel is a Reno-based handicapper and radio host who has worked in the Nevada sports gaming industry for 15 years. His work has been featured in USA Today, Poker News and on Covers.com. He looks for psychological edges, motivational spots and situational advantages.