2020 NCAA Men’s Futures: Defending Champion Cavaliers Have 3rd Shortest Odds

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers enter the 2020 season among the favorites to win March Madness. (Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire)
  • Kentucky has the shortest opening odds to win the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship 
  • Virginia isn’t far behind after winning it all in dramatic fashion in 2019
  • Which teams present the best value to bettors? 

While the confetti just stopped falling on Virginia, it’s never too early to look ahead to next season’s contenders. Some of the familiar faces show up on the favorites for next season, including Kentucky at +625 and Duke at +700. Where do the newly minted champs fall? The Cavs have the third shortest odds to win the 2020 Men’s Basketball Championship at +750.

Virginia Has Gotten Over the Hump

Is UVA worth investing in? Yes, primarily because Tony Bennett has now reached the mountaintop and there’s no telling if the Cavs may be the newest power in college basketball.

In the last six seasons under Bennett the Cavs have been a 1-seed four times, a 2-seed and a 5-seed. While the Cavs entered this March with plenty of naysayers (including myself), the problem was not regular season success. The issue was living up to the expectations that come with 30-win seasons and ACC titles.

In the last six seasons under Bennett the Cavs have been a 1-seed four times, a 2-seed and a 5-seed.

In the toughest conference in America the Cavaliers have won the regular season four times in six years. The blueprint for success has been there for Bennett’s teams. But without at least one deep run into the tournament how could anyone assume they could get over the hump, or that UVA’s formula simply couldn’t get it done in the NCAA Tournament.

That all changed Monday night. Knowing that UVA’s regular season success is almost a foregone conclusion, who’s left to say UVA won’t be a national title contender every year? Jay Wright finally won his first championship after years of early March exits, and promptly followed it up with another title two years later. Now we think of the Wildcats as March warriors, not chokers.

The same may hold true for the Cavs. Bennett’s loss to UMBC last season forced him to re-evaluate his coaching style in the tournament. It paid the ultimate dividends. While the bracket broke in UVA’s direction (the Cavs didn’t face a 1 or a 2-seed) and debatable calls went its way late in the biggest games, UVA must now be considered a favorite to win a championship until further notice. They’re a power in college hoops.

Gonzaga Presents Great Value

With this in mind Gonzaga is a great value bet at +1600. The Zags are where Villanova and Virginia were before their recent titles. Mark Few is one of the best coaches in America with remarkable regular season and conference tourney success like Wright and Bennett, but we just don’t have the evidence the Zags can win the whole thing.

That shouldn’t scare people off from considering the Zags a title contender. They’ve been a 1 or a 2-seed four times since 2013. They’ve made the NCAA tournament every year since ’99. They made the Sweet 16 five straight years. They’ve played in the national title game. Eventually they’ll cut down the nets.

Barnes is Back with Tennessee

Another great value is Tennessee at +3300. The Vols have garnered national respect over the past two seasons with Rick Barnes. They were rewarded with high rankings this season and a 2-seed. Barnes decided to stay in Knoxville instead of bolting for UCLA, and with that must have come the promise from the administration to invest in the basketball program even further.

The past two seasons the Vols have been 57-15 overall, 28-8 SEC, and reached the title game of the SEC tournament. The state of Tennessee, specifically in Memphis, has long produced elite high school talent. While Penny Hardaway and the Tigers have a pipeline to the city, the Vols will be able to capitalize on being in a major conference and getting national recognition this year.

The Vols could be a new perennial contender everyone should keep an eye on.

The Vols could be a new perennial contender everyone should keep an eye on. While Barnes still must prove he can win in the tourney consistently, the Vols could have firepower. The problem comes with how much of the team they’ll lose. Jordan Bone will explore leaving for the NBA draft. Grant Williams will do the same, and Admiral Schofield is graduating. But the Vols are still a good value pick.

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