The 2019-2020 college hoops season is just around the corner, and with that comes the great predictions, the unlikely statistics and the performance metrics that will predict which teams will likely make a deep run in the tournament come March… But it’s never that easy.
Everybody had Duke marching to the Championship at the beginning of last season – and will certainly make similar predictions about this year until, predictably, most of their predictions will fall apart one weekend in March. But every season brings surprises, (Like Baylor coming out of nowhere to win 20 games last season).
That is why college basketball is the most joyful and upsetting sport we have… where one week your team looks as if they could reach the Final Four – and the next week they get blown out at home by East Tennessee State.
Oh, by the way? The three-point line is now 22 feet 1 3/4 inches. That might change the outcome of EVERYTHING.
#1 Michigan State is the best team in the country. Tom Izzo and crew went to the Final Four last season with most of their returning team (A shock in today’s one and done era). It’s hard not to like this team, as senior PG Cassius Winston looks to be the best player in college basketball. Add on returning 6’8” junior Xavier Tillman and we should be watching this team make a DEEP run in March. MSU have 11-2 odds to win it all…
#2 Kentucky has two 5 star freshmen in Tyrese Maxey and Khalil Whitney, who fit nicely into John Calipari’s “Prepare them for the NBA” system. The problem is that in the One-and-Done era, only two teams have actually won the National Championship that are starting five-star future NBA players. (The 2012 Kentucky Wildcats and the 2015 Duke Blue Devils).
# 3 Duke returns Tre Jones and adds two five star freshman studs in Vernon Carey and Matthew Hurt (6’10” and 6’9”, respectively). They will have to face a VERY TOUGH
#4 Louisville team twice during the season who are expected to be better than last year’s 20 win team due to the addition of St. Joe’s transfer Lamarr Kimble (Who can shoot the lights out).
#5 Kansas is dealing with the NCAA recruiting sanctions leveled against them, but the return of Udoka Azubuike from injury and Devon Dotson’s decision to not test the NBA Draft has them looking like the best team in the Big 12. Of course, health is always a concern with Azubuike coming back from a hand injury and after last season’s string of close winds and losses, (Barely beating KSU, Losing to Texas Tech) they need to be playing with a fire that burns from the knowledge of not having a tournament to play in come March.
#6 Florida This team is a powerhouse. Andrew Nembhard and Tre Mann are remarkable playmakers surrounded by great shooters. Virginia Tech transfer Kerry Blackshear, jr. loads them up front. The SEC will be absolutely tough and This could be a title run 20 years after the last one for this Gators team.
#7 Auburn may have some issues from outside, which may make them vulnerable when they face bigger teams – although with 6’8” athletic big Babatunde Akingbola ripping down boards, this team could be one of the more athletic squads we will see this season.
#8 Villanova should be the best team in the Big East, but they may have issues at point guard, unless Collin Gillespie has taken big strides in his game. The always dangerous Wildcats are still superbly coached, balanced in the shooting department and will make magic with an 8-9 man rotation.
#9 Ohio State is tough… like really tough. Ever hear of DJ Carton? YOU WILL. The kid is an elite athlete and scorer and should lead this team far… He will play Michigan State only once this season – and it should be one of the most anticipated games of the year. He’s good enough to lead this well balanced team into the pre-season top ten… We’ll see how far he can take them come tourney time.
#10 Maryland is really balanced and sophomore experience will lead them to some great wins. Again, the Big 10 is full of big time front lines and missing a true big may cost them on occasion. Serrel Smith jr. showed a lot of promise last year and should step up while surrounded by a team with a loaded wing component. They face MSU twice… these are two other must see games.
#11 Virginia is still reeling off of their National Championship last year and won’t be AS good. But will still turn some heads… These guys just always seem to breeze through the giants of the league come tourney time…
#12 Purdue will miss Carsen Edwards as their go to scorer but they still come back stacked. Trevion Williams has NBA potential after a terrific freshman season.
#13 Florida State is awfully scary, and starts a very big lineup – their issues are in scoring in their half court offense. Get them on the break, however, and these guys are going to cause a lot of problems for opponents.
#14 Seton Hall will fight for the Big East title against Villanova – and with their four returning starters, they should get off to a fast start. Myles Powell is the truth – and should be a large factor in whether or not they make a decent tourney run.
#15 North Carolina – bring in superstar point guard Cole Anthony (Son of Greg) who is expected to be one of the best players in the country as a true freshman. The ACC is always a battle and the Tar Heels could make some ripples in the conference with Anthony at the wheel.
Coach Chris Beard has #16 Texas Tech riding high, and brought in grad transfers Chris Clark and TJ Holyfield. (My favorite name in college hoops this year). If Kansas hits any drags, the Red Raiders will be your Big 12 champions.
#17 Memphis – IS THIS THE MOST EXCITING TEAM IN THE NCAA? Perhaps. Penny Hardaway is ready for the big time and he has recruited four possible future NBA players. 7’1” James Wiseman is absurdly talented and Hardaway’s former AAU player… The question remains: Will Hardaway become a superstar coach at the D1 level? Or become a casualty of the Chris Mullin/Clyde Drexler variety and flame out after a couple of seasons? Whatever the case – it should be a fun season to watch the Tigers…
#18 Gonzaga – How do these guys stay so good year after year? Mark Few is a top-five coach, and with his front court drop of Killian Tillie and Drew Timme he returns an extremely impressive basketball team. Texas A 7 M transfer Admon Gilder could be the key to taking this team all the way… And Few has a tendency to get his teams clicking at the right time.
#19 LSU – NCAA Sanctions aside, these guys belong in the top twenty and may challenge for the SEC title. Trendon Watford is poised for a break through year and even though they lost some guys to the professional ranks last year. The problem may be the drama hanging around the program…
# 20 Arizona/Oregon – I had to include one Pac-12 team here, and since the conference doesn’t look that strong, these are the two best teams. One of them belongs in the top 20. Arizona brings in point guard Nico Mannion and Josh Green and if Sean Miller can shake his past demons, he could get these guys playing like a sweet 16 team. Oregon is in a similar position – big time impact freshman, grad transfers and a shooter in Addison Patterson. (Remember, the move of the three point line will affect a lot of percentages… Look for the numbers to fall all around.)
Hopefully that gets you started… but as we all know, these are kids, the tournament determines everything and you just never know what might happen…A team like #26 Creighton could come along and shock the world. (For the record Creighton is a terrific team… we just didn’t have space to get that deep…)
Good luck out there. Watch three point percentages to drop significantly. That is all.
The Most Important Basketball Matches To Bet On In 2020
With basketball and the NBA season set to restart on the 30th of July after a gap of more than 4 months, betting on the sport will now again be peaking. With that in mind, here is a set of 10 games that you need to think the most about putting your money on. This will be a list of important games to bet on, rather than important games to watch out for basketball action:
- Clippers vs Lakers, 30th July
The presence of the best player in basketball makes the odds lopsided in the Lakers’ favor. Their significantly superior record compared to the Clippers has given them the oddsmakers’ benefit of short odds on every remaining matchup. But betting on the Clippers in this game could turn out to be a really wise move.
Powered by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers can punch way above their weight and make you a killing on the +165 odds on offer.
- Celtics vs Bucks, 31st July
Normally, when the best team in basketball goes up against the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference, the odds are supposed to be shorter. But Bet way has offered tempting odds on the Celtics in this game, giving a payout of +170 despite the fact that they have 3 players averaging 20 points per game.
While the Bucks, led by Giannis, have been in rude form throughout the season, the Celtics beat them early in the season by 12 points. Going with the Cs in this game will be a handy basketball gamble to make.
- Pacers vs Sixers, 1st August
The Sixes and the Pacers sit on exactly the same record (39-26). But the difference is that the Sixes are at full strength with the resumption of the basketball season, while the Pacers will miss Sabonis.
However, the line offered on Bet way of +195 on the Pacers is far too tempting for an avid gambler to pass up. You’d be well-advised to put your money on Pacers basketball for this game. Especially with the expected comeback of Victor Oladipo.
- Clippers vs Pelicans, 2nd August
The absence of Lou Williams due to a silly decision of going out to have chicken wings at Magic City will deplete the basketball roster of the Clippers for the first 3 games.
The Pelicans, on the other hand, will be at full strength, including the likely return of rookie sensation and #1 NBA draft pick in 2019 Zion Williamson. There are great chances that the Pelicans receive a +140 line or so and go on to win this basketball game.
- Clippers vs Suns, 5th August
The Clippers have gotten off to a sluggish start in the scrimmages, especially Kawhi Leonard. With the Phoenix Suns at full strength and Lou Williams likely to miss their first 3 games, there’s a good possibility that the Clippers will rest one of Leonard or George for this game.
The betting line will still be at least +140 in favor of the Suns, who will look to Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton to provide them with the scoring punch. A bet on the Suns wouldn’t go amiss on this game of basketball.
- Nuggets vs Trail Blazers, 7th August
The Nuggets are comfortably placed at 3rd in the Western Conference. They are likely to finish at that spot and have no basketball reasons to overexert their squad during the seeding games.
The Trail Blazers, on the other hand, sit at 9th in the Conference and will be aiming to make the playoffs. They are likely to receive a line of +1300 or better. Powered by Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Nurkic, the Blazers have a real shot at beating Denver in this game.
- Bucks vs Heat, 7th August
The Heat and the Bucks are separated by the significant margin of 12 games in the Eastern Conference. The two teams are well set to meet in playoff basketball given their status as the #4 and #1 seeds respectively.
The last time the Bucks played the Heat, Giannis had his worst scoring game of the season. The odds will definitely be quite short on the Bucks, so picking the Heat could prove to be a real steal on this one.
- Rockets vs Lakers, 7th August
The Rockets would be aiming to finish 5th in the Conference, tied as they are with the Thunder on a 40-24 record. Their faceoff with the Lakers would be a pivotal game of basketball in this path.
The Rockets are likely to receive a line of +130 or so for this game. They beat the Lakers in their last faceoff, after the Clint Capela trade. So going for a Rockets W for this game is solidly advisable on betting factors.
- Bucks vs Mavericks, 9th August
The Mavericks beat the Bucks in their first meeting of the season in Milwaukee, despite not having MVP candidate Luka Doncic in their ranks. Despite this, the odds line is likely to heavily favor the Bucks, to a tune of at least -450.
Betting on the Mavs, who’re likely to get a payoff of +150 or more, will be a handy pick. Basketball is a make-or-miss game, and the probability of the Mavs making their shots in this game seems pretty high given their size and versatility across the board.
- Nets vs Magic, 11th August
These two basketball teams are destined to meet each other twice in the bubble. While their first meeting will likely be quite competitive, by the time they meet the second time, the Magic will probably have secured 7th seed by a significant margin.
This would put the betting line in their favor, and the Magic would have the chance to rest its players before a possible playoff matchup repeat against the Raptors. Betting on the Nets in this game, for a prospective line of +140 or so, would be the way forward.
Popularity of Basketball in UK, is it the next Big Market?
When talking about the most popular sports in the UK, you wouldn’t necessarily expect to hear basketball being mentioned. However, the sport has gathered some momentum over the last five years or so and is steadily rising in both participation and spectator numbers.
With this growth in popularity comes the increase in bets placed on the sport. Go to any main bookmaker online and you won’t struggle to find basketball betting among the array of sports to choose from. So, is basketball the next big betting market in the UK? We take a look at how UK basketball has gotten to where it is today and where it could go in the future.
Basketball in the UK has had a rather checkered past. Established in 1987, the British Basketball League (BBL) saw rapid growth in the early 1990s, most likely due to the rising popularity of the NBA in the UK, with Hall of Famer Michael Jordan coming to prominence in the sport and inspiring a generation to get involved in the sport.
For the next decade, basketball in the UK saw healthy progression, with record attendances and commercial sponsorship deals to even rival football, with the likes of Budweiser, Peugeot and Playboy all attaching their brands to the new venture. It looked as though basketball was going to be the most popular pastime besides football betting in the UK – that was until the early 2000s.
The new millennium saw a change in fortunes. ITV Digital, which was set to become the biggest subscription based sports channel in the UK, collapsed. The BBL were due to receive more than £21 million pounds in TV revenue as a result of the deal, but missed out on the essential funding. This led to multiple BBL teams such as Essex Leopards, Birmingham Bullets and the Manchester Giants pulling out of the league, with some franchises folding completely under the financial strain.
It’s taken a long time for basketball in the UK to recover. After sell-out crowds at Wembley Arena in 2012 and 2014; the 2015 BBL play-off finals took place in front of record crowds at the 02 Arena in London. Since then, franchises have continued to develop their facilities and build the necessary foundations for the sport to once again rise to prominence in the UK. The hard work that the BBL and the franchises have put in over the last decade looks to be coming to fruition, as Leicester became the first British basketball participant in Europe for 11 years when they played in the Basketball Champions League and the FIBA Europe Cup in the 2018/19 season.
With basketball in the UK now looking back on the rise, it would be no surprise to see an increase in the amount of bets placed on the sport as a direct result. An indicator that online bookmakers are taking the sport seriously can be seen when looking at the amount of markets that are on offer. It’s not just match outright odds, you can now bet on handicap, or ‘spread’ markets, winning margin and total match points to name just a few.
A recent study by the UK Gambling Commission estimated more than £14 billion is spent on gambling in the UK. Maybe it’s time for basketball to get a bigger piece of that pie.
Liked “The Last Dance”? Try These Documentaries
Living through the biggest pandemic of the new millennium (so far, of course) is bad enough in itself… having to do so without live sports only makes it worse. The NBA is struggling to find a solution to the problems caused by the ongoing pandemic. The day the players step inside the court again is drawing close but sometimes it feels that it’s still way too far.
Reruns, YouTube videos, and documentaries like The Last Dance that can fill the void left by live sports in our souls. The latter is the perfect solution if you want to remember one of the greatest basketball teams in history, and while some may call it way too long (it has ten episodes filled with flashbacks and interviews, mostly focusing on Michael Jordan), others see it as the perfect way to pass the time until NBA finally resumes. And if it got you in the mood for more basketball documentaries, here are a few more to check out.
One & Done/Ben Simmons (Amazon Prime)
Born in Australia to a player at the Melbourne Tigers in Australia’s National Basketball League, Ben Simmons was destined to follow his father’s footsteps. He was torn, in turn, between basketball and his other passion, Australian rules football (a bit similar to rugby). He went with the first, though, and was pretty successful, too – at the age of 15, he was chosen to represent Australia at the 2012 FIBA Under-17 World Championship. His dream was to play in the NBA, a dream that he achieved by first playing for the Montverde Academy, then with the NCAA Division 1 team LSU Tigers.
His road from his first games in Australia to becoming the number one overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers is depicted in the Showtime documentary “One & Done”, released in 2016.
Iverson (Amazon, Vudu, iTunes, Play Store, Microsoft Store)
Allen Iverson (aka AI or the Answer) played 14 years in the NBA. During his career, he collected 11 NBA All-Star positions, two All-Star MVP awards, and was the NBA’s most valuable player in 2001.
Iverson was born in 1975 to a 15-year-old single mom. In high school, he played football and basketball, earning The Associated Press High School Player of the Year award in both sports. At 17, he was involved in a brawl, arrested, and convicted – he received an unusually harsh sentence. Upon leaving Richard Milburn High School for at-risk students, Georgetown University head coach John Thompson was waiting for him with a full basketball scholarship.
Two seasons into his college basketball career, he was signed – first overall – by the Philadelphia 76ers, starting his successful career in the NBA.
A biopic about his life, directed by Zatella Beatty, was released in 2014.
Basketball: A Love Story (ESPNPlayer)
Award-winning director Dan Klores asked NBA and WNBA players, coaches, commissioners, both active and retired, what made them fall in love with basketball. The result: 62 “short stories” divided into ten two-hour episodes where Klores and the team talk to pretty much every major basketball personality (with the notable exception of Michael Jordan and Gregg Popovich).