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2019-20 College Basketball Futures: Best Bet to Win Each Power Conference

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Basketball

Updated Dec 20, 2022 · 10:05 AM PST

Tre Jones celebrating a basket for Duke
Tre Jones and the Duke Blue Devils are favored to win the ACC regular-season title, but will face a stiff test from the likes of Louisville. Photo by Keenan Hairston (Wikimedia)
  • The 2019-20 college basketball season gets underway on Tuesday, Nov. 5th
  • The Champions Classic at MSG features the top four teams: #1 Michigan State vs #2Kentucky & #3 Kansas vs #4 Duke
  • All four are favored to win their respective conferences, but what about the Big East and Pac-12? Get odds and picks, below

The Michigan State Spartans (+650) are the favorites to cut down the nets on April 6 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta according to our 2020 NCAA Tournament odds tracker.

But before Tom Izzo’s squad can think about March Madness and giving the Hall of Fame coach his second national championship (in this 20th Anniversary season of the “Flintstones,” by the way), a Big Ten championship will be fought for. With that, let’s look at each of the Power Six conferences and pick a winner, going in alphabetical order by league.

ACC Title Odds

Teams Odds
Duke +250
Louisville +400
Virginia +400
North Carolina +600
Florida State +1400
Clemson +1600
Syracuse +1600
NC State +2000
Notre Dame +2500
Virginia Tech +2500
Boston College +5000
Georgia Tech +5000
Miami FL +5000
Pittsburgh +6600
Wake Forest +10000

Odds taken Nov . 5

Duke has been the steady favorite to win the ACC since late summer, according to our Conference Title odds tracker. Of course, the Blue Devils have several key losses off last year’s roster, starting with the Naismith Player of the Year and No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft Zion Williamson. But Mike Krzyzewski still has point guard Tre Jones, who associate head coach Jon Scheyer called the team’s “heart and soul last year.”

Jones and co. will wear the target as conference favorites night in and night out. How will the group, which features numerous returning players, react to being the hunted?

I think they’ll be fine. But I like second-favorite, Louisville, to be the regular-season ACC champs. Three starters return from a team that went 20-14 in Chris Mack’s first campaign with the Cardinals. Forward Jordan Nwora is the preseason pick to take ACC Player of the Year honors and it’s easy to see why.

Perennial contender North Carolina and reigning national champs Virginia should also be in the mix, but I like the Cardinals based on the amount of returning talent and Chris Mack’s pedigree

Pick: Louisville Cardinals (+400)

Big 12 Title Odds

Teams Odds
Kansas +200
Baylor +400
Texas Tech +400
Oklahoma +600
West Virginia +1000
Texas +1200
Iowa State +2000
Kansas State +2500
Oklahoma State +2500
TCU +3300

Odds taken Nov . 5

The Jayhawks’ tumultuous off-season hasn’t hurt their odds. Kansas has been one of the rock-chalkiest picks to recapture the regular-season Big 12 title after having their astonishing streak of 14 straight titles snapped last season by Texas Tech and Kansas State.

But will Bill Self’s program be able to drown out the noise? The NCAA sent a Notice of Allegations to Lawrence in September and Self has continued to thumb his nose at the powers that be, even flaunting an interesting look at Midnight Madness that caused quite a stir on social media.

Kansas returns point guard Devon Dotson, who’ll be joined by shooting threat Isaiah Moss in a talented and experienced backcourt. And as deep as the Jayhawks are on the perimeter, they’re even more so on the blocks. Udoka Azubuike has battled the injury bug during his time at KU, but is healthy this season. He’s joined by redshirt sophomore Silvio De Sousa, who won an eligibility appeal after being involved in the Adidas scandal.

The Red Raiders were the national runner-up last season and Chris Beard is quickly building a program that figures to be in the mix perennially. Don’t count out Baylor either. But thanks to that deep roster, I expect Kansas to get back on top of the conference it has owned for a generation.

Pick: Kansas Jayhawks (+200)

Big East Title Odds

Teams Odds
Villanova +225
Marquette +450
Seton Hall +450
Xavier +600
Creighton +700
Butler +1600
Providence +1600
St. John’s +1600
Georgetown +2000
DePaul +5000

Odds taken Nov . 5

Speaking of programs that have become national powers, Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats certainly fit that description. They have been Big East favorites since these futures opened and the odds haven’t changed much over the last couple months.

But will Wright’s group continue its even-numbered year magic in 2020 after winning national championships in 2016 and 2018? Phil Booth and Eric Paschall are gone and players like Saddiq Bey and Jermaine Samuels are expected to step up.

Xavier came out of the pack to capture the conference title two years ago before Nova won it all. I can see a similar set of circumstances this season with Seton Hall. The Pirates return virtually everyone from an NCAA Tournament team last season and add Florida State transfer and shot-blocking extraordinaire Ike Obiagu. And that Myles Powell guy is pretty good.

Pick: Seton Hall Pirates (+450)

Big Ten Title Odds

Teams Odds
Michigan State +150
Maryland +600
Purdue +600
Michigan +700
Ohio State +800
Wisconsin +1600
Illinois +2000
Indiana +2500
Iowa +2500
Minnesota +2500
Penn State +3300
Nebraska +5000
Northwestern +5000
Rutgers +5000

Odds taken Nov . 5

When it comes to heavy conference-title favorites, it doesn’t get any heavier than Michigan State in the Big Ten. In fact, Sparty has the biggest disparity between itself and the second-favorite (in this case, Maryland and Purdue) than any other Power Six conference. That’s because Izzo returns the likes of Xavier Tillman and all-everything point guard Cassius Winston, who’s favored to win the 2020 Naismith Award (something no Michigan State player has ever done).

Winston had a decent run in the Big Dance last season and was a First Team All-American.

Former Purdue star-now Big Ten Network analyst Robbie Hummel likes Maryland. Yes, the backcourt of Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith is formidable. And many expect Aaron Wiggins to be a breakout star. But give me Michigan State here.

Pick: Michigan State Spartans (+150)

Pac-12 Title Odds

Teams Odds
Oregon +250
Washington +400
Arizona +450
Colorado +700
UCLA +900
Arizona State +1000
USC +1400
Utah +2000
Oregon State +2500
Stanford +2500
California +3300
Washington State +5000

Odds taken Nov . 5

The top-three teams in the Pac-12 haven’t changed too much in the build up to the season. Oregon has consistently been the cream of the crop (and the Ducks odds have gotten a little shorter over the last couple months), while Arizona and Washington’s respective odds have gotten a hair longer in that timeframe.

Dana Altman has built a national program in Eugene since arriving from Creighton prior to the 2010-11 season. The Ducks feature preseason Pac-12 Player of the Year-favorite Payton Pritchard, who helped Oregon make a run to the Sweet 16 in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

Washington welcomes two of the most talented freshmen in the country in Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels.

Washington welcomes two of the most talented freshmen in the country in Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels. Both are potential lottery picks and Stewart, a 6-9 center, should fit in perfectly in the middle of Mike Hopkins’ zone.

The Wildcats will be dangerous with a top-tier recruiting class led by Nico Mannion (#8 at ESPN) and Josh Green (#7). Don’t sleep on Colorado; the Buffs could very well surprise many this season. But I’m going with Oregon.

Pick: Oregon Ducks (+250)

SEC Title Odds

Teams Odds
Kentucky +200
Florida +400
LSU +700
Auburn +900
Tennessee +900
Alabama +1000
Mississippi State +1200
Georgia +2000
Mississippi +2000
Arkansas +2500
Missouri +2500
South Carolina +3300
Texas A&M +5000
Vanderbilt +5000

Odds taken Nov . 5

As has been the case ever since John Calipari arrived in Lexington, Kentucky is the favorite to win the SEC. In fact, the team’s Conference Title odds have steadily improved over the last two month. Even at +200, UK may be a bargain with a roster that includes returning ring leader Ashton Hagans and a pair of blue-chip recruits in Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney.

Sure, other programs (South Carolina in 2017 and Auburn in 2019) have reached the Final Four since the last time Kentucky got that far, and Florida and LSU may very well end up making runs in the conference tournament. But Coach Cal’s Cats are hungry and I love this roster on a night-to-night basis.

Pick: Kentucky Wildcats (+200)

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