We’re just days away from the start of a new college hoops season, and you know what that means- time to talk NCAA Tournament futures odds. Yes, from the opening tip in November, until the Final Four in April, everybody in the college basketball universe keeps at least one eye, at all times, on March Madness.
That’s because it’s an event, unlike any other, on the sports betting calendar, and a time when Canadian online casinos really see a lot of action. One of the teams that will likely see plenty of bettors laying their money on is the Illinois Fighting Illini. So let’s take a look at their prospectus, expectations and odds.
The bookies see their chances of winning it all as among the top ten, or just outside of it, typically with NCAA title futures of around +1800 to +2000. Although some sports books, probably aware that the Illini have never won a national title, go as high as +2500. Gaming Today projects their chances of winning it all at 4.46%
Star point guard Andre Curbelo said at Big Ten Media Day that this team could be better than last year. There is absolutely nothing wrong with thinking or saying that, especially as they enter the season ranked #5 in KenPom and #11 in the AP.
It will be difficult for them to match last year’s regular season, but that’s not what we’re focused on here with this team. It’s about the postseason, and the postseason only with the ’21-’22 team.
Last season you only got the appetizer portion of all that Curbelo brings to the table. Now it’s time for the main course, and one should not be shocked if he not only replaces, but also possibly exceeds the production and contributions, at least statistically, of Ayo Dosunmu, who is now with the Chicago Bulls.
Curbelo, the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year last season, is on the short list for the Bob Cousy Award (nation’s best point guard). He was fourth on team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 9.1 ppg and 4.0 rpg. He also averaged 12.7 points and 5.6 rebounds over the final 10 games of last season.
He provides a stellar inside-outside combination with Kofi Cockburn, who is the Big Ten preseason player of the year.
Cockburn finished No. 7 last year in the final kenpom National Player of the Year standings, third nationally with 16 double-doubles, fourth in the NCAA in field goal percentage at 65.4% (214-327).
He also led the nation with 78 dunks, finished fifth in the Big Ten in scoring (17.7 ppg) as well as first in B1G and 24th in NCAA in rebounding (9.5 rpg). This Ilini team will only go as far as their Jamaican big man can take them, and he has the potential to lead the orange and blue to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, perhaps maybe even further.
More on Cockburn at this link.
2021-22 College Basketball Season Preview Series
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”