The college basketball season is heading into February, which means that the time window pertaining to college basketball futures isn’t quite as long as it was a month ago. Get more perspective on what college basketball futures are really all about:
College Basketball Futures Explained
College basketball future bets are outright bets. They generally refer to whether players or teams will reach major achievements such as a player of the year award or the national championship. The obvious magnet-level futures bet is who will win the NCAA Tournament in a given season, so whereas it might seem too uncertain to take a stab at the 2019 NCAA Tournament champion in early January, more of the sport has changed over the course of January to recommend a pick for a winner at the start of February.
It is true that being able to correctly predict a futures winner in early January would likely bring in a much better return on a successful bet than a futures winner correctly picked in early February, but the trade-off there is that it is orders of magnitude more difficult to make that successful bet in early January. In early February, it is still six weeks before the start of the NCAA Tournament, so it’s not as though you know how the various title contenders will be seeded in the NCAA Tournament – you can still make a guess that a lot of other bettors aren’t making. You get the right mix between getting a leg up on the competition yet gathering enough information to make a more informed choice.
Consider how much has changed from the start of January to the end of January: Kentucky has gotten a lot better over the course of the month. Auburn has gotten a lot worse. Villanova has gotten a lot better. Baylor has gotten a lot better. Kansas has struggled. Purdue has improved considerably. The futures markets for all these teams have noticeably changed. This illustrates the value of waiting to make a futures bet, and the danger of making a futures bet too early.
Here is some more information on what a futures bet entails:
Futures are released before the start of the college basketball season. They are adjusted throughout the regular season, conference tournaments, and the NCAA Tournament itself. Futures also exist for the various levels of the NCAA Tournament: Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and Final Four in particular.
These are not point spread-dependent bets. The return on futures bets is much higher than a straight bet on a college basketball team in a specific game, or on an over-under total in one game.
The payout works the same way as a moneyline bet, but the team has to win the national title – not merely come close – for a national championship futures bet to win. It has to make the Final Four for your Final Four futures bet to win. Getting close, with several wins but not all the wins needed to reach the given goal, doesn’t count. There is a larger vigorish or bookmaker’s fee for these bets, which is why taking the time to make sure you’re confident of your long-term projection is important on a futures play in college basketball.