Next Kentucky Head Coach Odds and Predictions: Can't Bear to See It

When John Calipari decided to take his coaching talents to Arkansas, that opened up a highly desirable job with one of college basketball's elite. Given their wealth and blue-blood status, coaches will be lining up for this gig, but who will the Wildcats choose?

Apr 9, 2024 • 15:43 ET • 4 min read
Scott Drew Baylor Bears NCAAB
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

If UConn winning the National Championship was the most expected outcome this season, then John Calipari's decision to leave Kentucky for Arkansas is the polar opposite. 

Calipari announced his decision to take the Razerbacks job Sunday night, which sent shockwaves through the college basketball landscape. Calipari is one of the NCAA's most respected coaches, and his ability to produce NBA-ready talent is second to none. 

Often scrutinized for his failure to win more than one National Championship with the Wildcats,  Calipari remained steadfast in his methods and his ability to recruit the highest talent. 

This year's first-round exit in the NCAA tournament signaled a time for change, and Coach Cal did what he felt he needed to do. 

This leaves Kentucky searching for a new coach for the first time since 2008 and given their wealth, talent, upside, and expectation, this is a highly desirable job. 

Join me as I break down the potential candidates who may help lead Kentucky to the top of next year's March Madness odds board. 

Next Kentucky head coach odds

Coach Odds
Baylor Scott Drew +160
🏀 Billy Donovan +200
UConn Dan Hurley +350
BYU Mark Pope +1,000
New Mexico State Richard Pitino +2,000
St. John's Rick Pitino  +2,000
Xavier Sean Miller +2,000
Mississippi Chris Beard +2,000
Iowa State TJ Otzelberger +2,000
🏀 Will Wade +2,000

Odds as of 4/9

Favorites to be next Kentucky coach

Scott Drew (+160)

Scott Drew leaving Baylor for Kentucky makes sense in some fashion, but I don't believe we'll see it happen. 

Drew is a highly sought-after coach after helping Baylor rebuild and ultimately win a National Championship in 2021. He's a guy who can recruit, build a program, and then elevate it to its peak. 

A program like Kentucky does not need such a coach. They need a guy who can handle elite NBA-ready talent, manage egos, and take the scrutiny that comes with the gig. 

Billy Donovan (+200)

Cue Billy Donovan. 

This is a coach with a winning pedigree as he led the Florida Gators to back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007. 

Much of the reason he bolted from the college level was the inability to cope with the recruiting demands, but in the year of NIL and players using the transfer portal like a stepping stool, Donovan may not need to recruit as hard as he did in his first stint. 

Kentucky sells itself and with Donovan's lack of success as an NBA coach, why not return to college and get paid handsomely to do so? 

Dan Hurley (+350)

Dan Hurley's name was always going to be thrown in the mix given his success over the last two years at UConn which saw the Huskies win back-to-back national championships. 

However, Big East and SEC basketball are not the same, and leaving a program after two consecutive titles is a tough sell no matter which team comes knocking. 

If we are looking beyond Hurley, Mark Pope (+1,000) is a Kentucky alumnus and a coach who deserves credit for his role at BYU. 

My best bet: Billy Donovan (+200)

Kentucky vs John Calipari specials

Event Odds
Kentucky to win at Rupp Arena vs. Arkansas during the 2024-25 regular season -193
Kentucky to lose at Rupp Arena vs. Arkansas during the 2024-25 regular season +145
Kentucky to win at Bud Walton Arena vs. Arkansas during the 2024-25 regular season +145
Kentucky to lose at Bud Walton Arena vs. Arkansas during the 2024-25 regular season -193

Odds as of 4/9 via FanDuel

When Kentucky and Arkansas hook up for the first time next year it's going to be appointment television. There's just something special about a coach — who left unceremoniously — making his return to face his former team. 

Sportsbooks know full well these two meetings will garner a lot of attention and you can now bet on which party will have the last laugh. 

Going off of trends alone, Kentucky has won five of the last six meetings at Bud Walton Arena which could make +145 a nice play. Arkansas has registered just three wins over the last 13 trips to Rupp Arena, but two of those wins have come in the last three meetings. 

My best bet: Kentucky to win at Bud Walton Arena vs. Arkansas during the 2024-25 regular season (+145 at FanDuel)

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