CBB: First look at future bets to win 2018 NCAA title

Although there is limited information available about roster composition, odds are already offered on future wagers to win next year's college basketball championship. Josh Nagel looks at a handful of teams and offers his "buy" or "sell" recommendation.

 

Although we're just a few weeks removed from watching the North Carolina Tar Heels cut down the nets, it is never too soon to look ahead.

Most major programs are in a state of transition, as they await decisions from big-time recruits or wait to see if players who are testing their NBA draft stock will go pro or return to school.

Even with the limited information we have about rosters, live future odds to win the 2018 NCAA Tournament already are up at many sportsbooks.

Using odds from the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, let's take a look at some of the contenders, along with my "buy" or "sell" recommendation at their current prices.

Odds To Win 2018 NCAA men's basketball championship
(courtesy of Westgate LV)
 Team Odds
 Michigan State 8/1
 Kentucky 10/1
 Duke 10/1
 Louisville 10/1
 Kansas 15/1
 North Carolina 20/1
 Villanova 20/1
 Michigan 25/1
 Florida 25/1
 West Virginia 30/1
 Gonzaga 30/1
 UCLA 30/1
 Alabama 30/1
 Oregon 40/1
 Virginia 40/1
 Baylor 50/1

Michigan State (8/1): Amid relatively little movement in futures odds thus far, the Spartans stand out as they quickly went from an opening number of 20/1 to the shortest favorite on the board.

The move was largely prompted by the somewhat surprising news that freshman sensation Miles Bridges was passing on NBA riches and returning for his sophomore season.

He will be joined by fellow frosh standout Nick Ward, veteran forward Gavin Schilling and graduate transfer Ben Carter.

Although the Spartans will undoubtedly have one of the most talented rosters, I'm going to sell on this adjusted price.

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Kentucky (10/1): To nobody's surprise, Kentucky's one-and-done conveyor belt is on full throttle, as last season's stars are soon to be NBA lottery picks. No sooner do we learn their names, we hear them being called out by Adam Silver on draft night.

Kentucky will lose freshmen standouts Malik Monk, De?Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo, along with sophomore Isaiah Briscoe.

But of course, their replacements are warming up as we speak, likely led by Hamidou Diallo, who enrolled at Kentucky last year but didn?t play.

We?ll soon be learning all of their names as the Wildcats win a bunch of early-season games and their odds plummet.

Although there is a major leap of faith involved, this time of year is about the only chance you?ll ever see Kentucky offered at double-figure odds. This is a buy position.

Duke (10/1): Coming off a second-round exit in the NCAA Tournament, the Blue Devils are in a bit of limbo.

They will for sure be without leading scorer Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum, the frosh sensation who could be the No. 1 pick in the draft. The rugged Kennard also is likely to go high.

But guard Frank Jackson also declared without hiring an agent, and coach Mike Krzyzewski is still awaiting decisions from a handful of top recruits. Duke's best-known commodity will be one-time Final Four hero Grayson Allen, who is returning for his senior season.

Similar to Kentucky, the price on Duke is tempting out of principle, as the Blue Devils likely won?t last at 10/1 or better. But they have so many question marks that I will sell them for now.

Louisville (10/1): In a video that went viral this week, Louisville coach Rick Pitino showed he still has a deft touch on his three-point shot. His team could use some of the same, because inconsistent offense again plagued the Cardinals last season.

Still, the Cardinals had potential to be among the top contenders if star forwards Donovan Mitchell and Jaylen Johnson returned. Instead, both explored their draft stock and decided to hire agents and turn pro.

Although Louisville is sure to remain viable under Pitino, those key departures are enough to sell on a futures bet to win it all.

Kansas (15/1): The Jayhawks used a small-ball lineup to accommodate freshman star Josh Jackson, and they won another Big 12 title and reached the Elite Eight with a lineup guided by National Player of the Year Frank Mason III.

Jackson and Mason lead a severe exodus that also includes veteran forward Landen Lucas and Carlton Bragg, who transferred.

Veteran guard Devonte' Graham will return and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman provides backcourt depth.

Despite the significant roster turnover and coach Bill Self?s spotty record of March success, this price is sure to go down once we see the Jayhawks in action. So this is a buy for one of the country's most prolific programs.

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North Carolina (20/1): The Tar Heels are coming off a championship run in which they did just enough to get by in both the Final Four and national title games.

They will lose wiry forward Justin Jackson, but two-time Final Four standout Joel Berry returns. He is joined by fellow starter Kenny Williams, Theo Pinson and rising star Luke Maye, so they will still have a formidable lineup.

But without Jackson and longtime workhorse Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina will be lacking the inside muscle that helped it lead the country in rebounding.

Even so, with two straight Final Four appearances and a lot of returning experience, this is a buy at a pretty lofty price (after opening at 12/1).

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Michigan (25/1): The Wolverines seemingly came out of nowhere late last season to forge a run that included a Big 10 tournament title and Sweet 16 appearance. Although their ultra-efficient offense can break down almost any opponent, it?s hard to see the Wolverines duplicating their success.

They will lose floor leader Derrick Walton Jr. and are still waiting the draft-entry decisions of D.J. Wilson and Moe Wagner. This uncertainty makes them a clear sell, even with the lofty odds.

Florida (25/1): The Gators made an impressive run to the Elite Eight behind a core of fundamentally sound, unselfish players. But next season, it looks as though they could be in rebuilding mode.

They lose senior point guard Kasey Hill and second-leading scorer Canyon Barry, while forward Devin Robinson jumped to the NBA draft. We?d need a much bigger price to consider Florida a viable long shot -- this is a sell.

West Virginia (30/1): The Mountaineers have a history of leading the country in points off turnovers, and turning otherwise appealing college basketball games into unwatchable, quasi-rugby matches because of their relentless, physical style.

This approach has long allowed Bob Huggins? team to bridge the talent gap against superior opponents, but it tends to have a limited postseason shelf life. The Mountaineers return most of their core players, but they are still a sell at this relatively modest price.