It didn’t take long after Louisville cut down the nets for college basketball’s top talents to decide on their futures. The odds for the 2014 NCAAB championship have been up and down with plenty of big names making the move to the pros.
We take an early look at the top contenders, best value bets and some live long shots for next year’s NCAA tournament.
Favorite: Kentucky Wildcats (+300)
You didn’t think Kentucky would stay down, did you? If anything, a first-round NIT flop will motivate the remaining Wildcats and light a fire under head coach John Calipari, who once again welcomes the nation’s top recruiting class to Lexington. Three of the Top 5 recruits - Julius Randle, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison – are already locked up and UK is on the short list for top-ranked recruit Andrew Wiggins.
Other favorites: Duke (+800), Louisville (+800), North Carolina (+800), Ohio State (+800)
Best value bet: Michigan State Spartans (+1,500)
Michigan State overachieved this past year and managed to survive one of the toughest seasons for the Big Ten – or any conference – in a long time, despite a long list of injuries. Head coach Tom Izzo is optimistic that all his eligible returnees will be back in East Lansing, including Gary Harris and Adreian Payne. Keith Appling is emerging as the floor leader Izzo needs him to be and you can never count out the Green and White come tournament time as long as Tommy is on the sidelines.
Other value bets: Wichita State (+1,800), Marquette (+3,000) Saint Louis (+5,000), Gonzaga (+5,000)
Live long shot: Florida State Seminoles (+10,000)
This long-shot wager depends solely on the decision by Wiggins in the coming week. The top overall recruit, according to Rivals.com, has strong family bonds to Florida State where his parents, Mitchell Wiggins a former NBA player and Marita Payne a former track and field star, attended university. The fact that FSU is on the short list with UNC, UK and Kansas says something. The Seminoles, who were slowed by key injuries this season, lose heart and soul Michael Snaer but are expected to bring back everyone else.
Other live long shots: Alabama (+10,000), Stanford (+10,000), Arizona State (+10,000)