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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Monday, February 13, 2017 at 12:00 PM

There wasn’t nearly as much hype for the “unveiling” of early NCAA basketball tournament seed projections this past Saturday as there was back during football for the weekly Final Four standings. But, fans and bettors here in Nevada were certainly paying attention. Amongst sharps and oddsmakers, the biggest surprises seemed to be…

*Gonzaga only being the fourth rated #1 seed heading into their game at St. Mary’s (it was assumed an undefeated team with some good non-conference wins would sit at the very top!)

*No teams from the Big 10 registering in the top 16 teams.

Sure, it’s a down year for the Big 10…with a few traditional powers taking some surprising steps backward this season. But, Wisconsin was still seen Saturday as a legitimate threat to go deep in the Dance. Most Futures prices in Nevada and offshore had Wisconsin in the top 16, as did respected computers (which are trusted heavily by the sharps).

Then Wisconsin lost outright to Northwestern as an 11.5 point home favorite!

Maybe the committee was right. It’s just so hard to say at this stage of this particular season. Many teams with stellar records don’t pass the eye test. Even teams who pass the eye test have some issues with consistency and focus.

I have to tell you…this is going to be a very interesting six weeks in Futures prices. All of the usual suspects have potential negatives that could derail them. That’s why you can get 15/2 or 17/2 (or better) on many of them as we speak. And, several good teams in the computers and polls are currently posted at some very high returns. Only one team can win…but that one team could really pay off for prescient bettors.

This is a great scenario for sportsbooks. Many different quality teams are attracting attention. Obviously somebody’s going to win. But that one team winning means that supporters of EVERYONE ELSE loses their Futures bets! Even if a true longshot comes along and delivers a lottery type profit for one gambler…so many people will have lost on better known teams that sportsbooks aren’t going to mind that one nice payoff.

 

Recent Futures Prices for Select Big 10 Teams (entering weekend)

Wisconsin 28-1

Purdue 40-1

Maryland 50-1

Michigan State 60-1

Indiana 100-1

Northwestern 100-1

Avid fans of those Big 10 sides are thinking “you’ve got to be kidding me!” But, the level of play has been so unimpressive once you get past the first few that it’s virtually impossible to visualize a Big 10 team stringing together a bunch of tournament victories against talented, more athletic opponents. It will take hot shooting (probably from behind the arc) for any Big 10 team to go deep. Wisconsin sure looked mortal against NW when the treys weren’t falling.

Maybe the Big 10 will show us something down the stretch. For now, let’s quickly review the realities of Futures betting as you ponder some very appealing prices across the national landscape.

*First, always remember that you’re rarely getting a truly good price when betting these. You have to REALLY be sure the market has made a mistake before getting involved. The vigorish is “hidden” because the odds presented are worse than the best composite estimate of true odds. You may be thinking 20-1 is a great payoff…but if the true odds are 30-1, you’ve made a dumb bet. Prices that strike you as appealing are still likely worse than the true odds. 

*It’s almost always better to string together an open-ended parlay with your team of interest than it is to bet the Futures price. The profits magnify much more quickly that way if you’re right. If you’re wrong? Well, you would have lost your Futures bet anyway…so no harm no foul. Sharps have known this for years, and have played accordingly.

*Oddsmakers stack the Futures deck against the most popular betting teams. If you’re thinking of backing somebody like Kentucky or Duke…there are many better ways to show that support than placing a Futures bet. For you locals here in Nevada…that deck is stacked even more against Western powers like Gonzaga and Arizona, and UCLA this season. If you’re a fan of those teams, you should DEFINITELY be thinking about the running open-ended parlay approach.

*If you absolutely HAVE to place a Futures bet…SHOP AROUND! This year in particular, there are some sizable differences from one store to the next (depending on the corporate owner). If you’re an international reader with access to offshore options, those prices will typically be much better than in Nevada. It’s usually (not always) easier to find an “outlier” that’s offering an actual bargain at the offshore sites.

Back with you in a couple days to talk more college basketball. You longtime readers know it’s my favorite sport to handicap. Always has been. I study all the conferences hard too…not just the big matchups you see on TV. You can purchase my top selections every day right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about my handicapping service, call the VegasSportsMasters office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.

You’ll get my best shots every night. I hope to show you that it pays to have a friend behind the line!

Thanks for reading. See you next time.

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