Big East Conference Futures: When To Bet UConn, Villanova & Creighton

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: UConn’s RJ Cole.

The college basketball futures market is more fluid than ever before.

With COVID-19 cancellations and postponements the new normal, the sharp bettors look to seize the moment on the exact right time to invest on NCAA Tournament futures for their favorite teams.

There is so much variance in the number of games played by Big East Conference teams, assessing the best time to invest could make a huge financial difference.

Let’s take a look at three of my favorite Big East Conference futures, and predict the exact time to capitalize on the best odds.

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UConn Huskies 

The Huskies have battled through the absence of star guard James Bouknight and three separate COVID-19 pauses to a respectable 10-5 record (7-5 in Big East play).

Bouknight has now returned to give this team the elite scorer it needs, with 18 points, four rebounds and two steals in just 25 minutes during their most recent win over Providence.

His absence allowed other players to grow into enhanced roles. Rhode Island transfer Tyrese Martin (12.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg) has scored in double-digits in nine consecutive games. Howard transfer R.J. Cole (12.2 ppg, 4.3 apg) and senior forward Isaiah Whatley (8.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.1 bpg) have both seen increased production during Bouknight’s absence.

The Huskies’ success is still based on defense. They rank first in Big East play in adjusted defensive efficiency, block percentage, and second overall in effective field goal percentage allowed.

The Huskies are shooting better than 36% from 3P as a team, and feature athletic and long defenders such as freshman Adama Sanogo. Head coach Danny Hurley’s emphasis on on-ball pressure is reflected by three players averaging more than a steal and a half per game.

They now travel to Villanova on Saturday, where a win would certainly affect their futures odds. Connecticut is currently available at 55-1 at FanDuel, a very attractive price.  Since the market has not fully adjusted for the return of Bouknight, the time to place this bet is before Saturday’s game with the Wildcats.

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Villanova Wildcats

As the preseason favorite in the Big East, it has been difficult to find value on a Villanova futures bet.

Currently, FanDuel has the Wildcats at +1200, but there is a strong argument to wait just a little bit longer.

Even after an 86-70 loss at Creighton, the Wildcats are still sitting atop the Big East Conference standings at 8-2. There are several games, however, that could make odds much better.

Besides Saturday against Connecticut, the Wildcats have a rematch with St. John’s at home on Tuesday. They also end the season against Creighton and with a tricky road game at Providence. With two more losses, the value on a Villanova future could climb to +1500 or higher.

Head coach Jay Wright’s squad is still prolific on offense, ranking first in conference play in adjusted-offensive efficiency, 3P percentage (39.4%), and free-throw efficiency (82.1%) per KenPom.

Villanova features four players shooting 37% or better from 3P, highlighted by Caleb Daniels (43.1% on 72 attempts) and Collin Gillespie (37.6% on 93 attempts).

However, the Wildcats’ defense has been surprisingly poor, ranking last in effective field goal percentage allowed and 3P% allowed in their 10 Big East games.

Villanova is one of the few teams that can make a legitimate case to compete with Baylor and Gonzaga, but I still don’t think now is the optimal time for a futures bet. There is another loss coming on their schedule, and if could be against the Huskies this weekend. If the Huskies pull the upset, grab the Wildcats at a great price.

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Creighton Bluejays

There is still uncertainty on the projection for the Bluejays, as shown by the variance between their BetMGM odds (+1400) and DraftKings (+2500).
Creighton has the ability to get incredible hot from the field, a foundational piece of a great futures bet. This was illustrated in their incredible performance against Villanova.

Creighton has great guard play, led by preseason Big East Player of the Year Marcus Zegarowski (15 ppg, 4.4 apg) and senior guard Denzel Mahoney (14.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 34.6% 3P). They are one of the few teams with the offensive efficiency to match Villanova, ranking first in conference play in effective field goal percentage and 2P efficiency (56.3%).

The Bluejays rarely turn the ball over and are much improved on defense. Creighton is currently second within the Big East adjusted defensive efficiency and 2P percentage allowed.

Coming off three consecutive wins, the Bluejays  are not a futures bet to make at the moment. At 16-5 overall and 12-4 in conference play, their best odds were after consecutive losses to lowly Butler and Providence at home.

The best time for a futures bet on the Bluejays will be either after their March 3rd rematch with the Wildcats, or following a loss in the Big East Tournament.

Creighton has a great coach, strong guard play, and 3P explosiveness, making them a great NCAA Tournament long-shot pick. I would just advise waiting until after that next loss to capitalize on the best available odds.

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