Finding this year’s FAU among college basketball Final Four futures odds

LAS VEGAS — I awoke early Saturday to shop, which I find loathsome even among the sparsest of crowds, no matter the deals or discounts.

I dealt with none of that mess, though, having zoned in on Final Four tickets at the Westgate SuperBook.

Thirteen months ago, I had embarked on a novel wagering tack, for me, for the 2022-23 college hoops campaign. I’d still try to poach value on Saturday menus, so extensive each game can’t possibly sport the proper spreads and/or totals.

However, I aimed to turn a season into a long game, maybe by nabbing a longshot or two, just to make the Final Four, and by trying to corral all four squads that would battle in the national semifinals in Houston.

In certain situations, such ducats could provide guaranteed profit via hedging.

My formula for determining the country’s elite entails listing the teams among the top 10 percent in both offensive and defensive efficiency, according to stats guru Ken Pomeroy’s outstanding service.

From that select list, I underline the few among the top 10 percent against the spread to earmark the élite.

Florida Atlantic beeped loudly on the radar. The Owls not only qualified for all of those parameters, but they also checked in — in December 2022 — at No. 5 in the country against the spread, at 60.9 percent, since 2020.

To seasoned punters, FAU was not an unknown quantity.

Florida Atlantic’s Final Four run was forecast by formula, but still paid major dividends

I nabbed 60-to-1 odds on FAU, at the SuperBook, just to make the Final Four. I remember being distracted, as the World Cup was playing out in real time in Qatar, otherwise I might have acted days earlier and landed triple digits.

Of course, the Owls made the Final Four in Houston. That ticket alone paid for all of my college hoops futures action, plus a chunk remained as profit.

Pure gravy were the dividends from my F4 tickets on San Diego State, Miami and Connecticut. Plus, I had two tickets (10-1 and 20-1) on UConn to win it all.

I did some live hedging, as the NCAA Tournament played out, but essentially had 17 futures tickets, to either win the crown or make the Final Four; the aforementioned six cashed.

That’s what I aim to duplicate this season.

Current odds to make 2024 Final Four

Here are live odds on top sportsbook apps to make the Final Four in Phoenix

Continue to monitor college hoops futures odds, even after you’ve placed your bets

Two UConn-to-win-it-all tickets last season? Indeed, which provides a keen lesson. I had first grabbed an early 10-1 position on the Huskies, and they won their first 14 games.

They dropped two in a row, beat Creighton at home, then lost three consecutive games. Bettors directed their dollars elsewhere, in late January. To balance their offerings, sportsbooks bumped UConn’s odds.

That’s how I got 20-1. Coach Danny Hurley whipped his Huskies into a dynamo. UConn didn’t just toy with six foes in the NCAAs, it obliterated point spreads in certifying its blueblood status.

It harkened back to an investment lesson from my wise, late old man. A stock dips precipitously, but you invested, long ago, for salient and sound reasons. Don’t whine. Be bullish.

It’s time to buy more at the lesser price, which demands vigilance.

Related: Best March Madness betting sites | College basketball odds

Could San Diego State make another deep March Madness run?

Who is this season’s Florida Atlantic?

A wiseacre would say the Owls themselves, who beat Arizona in double overtime in perhaps the best game of the first two months. But, no, because FAU is indeed a known quantity.

San Diego State rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit in Houston to beat the Owls on a buzzer-beating jumper by Lamont Butler, but the Aztecs wilted against UConn for the title.

My brother laughed when, on June 30, I grabbed a 150-1 ticket on the Aztecs to win it all this season. He said, I thought you weren’t supposed to bet with your heart?

I’m an SDSU grad, for sure, but this purchase had nothing to do with sheepskin. This Aztecs squad would be better than last season’s, I reasoned, and if that one could reach a national-title game then this one just might win it all.

If it can avoid UConn, which zapped the Kawhi Leonard-led Aztecs from the 2011 NCAAs en route to another championship.

(Jaedon LeDee, I figured, would improve, and he’s boosted his 7.9-ppg average to 21.5. Reese Dixon-Waters transferred in from USC, and Butler stuck around. The Aztecs’ 84-74 triumph at Gonzaga on Friday was no fluke.)

As insurance, I bought an 18-1 ticket on SDSU reaching the Final Four in Arizona.

Teams that fit the FAU mold for Final Four futures bets consideration

In late November, the squads that met those sterling parameters (top-10-percent efficiencies and top 20 against the spread) were Arizona, Creighton, BYU and Oklahoma.

Of that quartet, the longest F4 odds, at 20-1, were the Sooners, which I also got at 80-1 to win it all. In his third season coaching Oklahoma, Porter Moser has it 12-1 and rated 27th by KenPom.com.

I snatched a 12-1 title ticket on Arizona (10-3), 20-1 on Creighton (9-4) winning it all and +500 on it reaching the Final Four. KenPom has the Jays No. 17.

Fifth-year coach Mark Pope has polished BYU (50-1 for title, +950 Final Four) into the country’s surprise squad. KenPom has the 12-1 Cougars rated third, and they boast of six double-digit scorers.

I grabbed two units on UConn, at 16-1, to defend its title. Tennessee (25-1), Miami (30-1 title, 18-1 F4), Florida Atlantic (40-1 title, +950 F4), Marquette (14-1 title, +500 F4) and Illinois (40-1) were other à la carte purchases.

(The Owls showed Dec. 23 they’re still to be feared by beating Arizona, 96-95, in double overtime.)

Moreover, I took Final Four flings on Wisconsin (12-1), Butler (two units at 60-1), Princeton (60-1), Minnesota (100-1) and Evansville (2,000-1).

Bet college basketball futures odds now using the best online sports betting bonuses at the top-rated sportsbook apps.

Upcoming college basketball betting lines to keep an eye on

Thursday, keep an eye on Minnesota, a national-best 12-1 against the spread, in Ann Arbor against a Michigan squad that has lost two in a row, and five of its past seven. 

The Golden Gophers should be about a 5-point underdog, a gift of a situation.

Saturday, Austin Peay (9-4 ATS, among the nation’s top 10%) plays at Eastern Kentucky (2-8 ATS, fourth-worst in the country).

At 43.9%, EKU owns the game’s worst 3-point defense, and we see Peay senior guard Ja’Monta Black exploiting that weak perimeter with his 40% long-range touch.

Eastern will probably be a slim favorite, so taking Peay and any points represents superb value.

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