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College Basketball 2016-17: National Champion Pick, Odds, Prediction, Dark Horse

College Basketball 2016-17 Season

November 2016

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We’re a week away from the 2016-17 college basketball season from getting underway, so it’s time to take a look at some of the value out there in terms of future bets.

Which dark horses have a chance to be crowned NCAA Champion in March at University of Phoenix Stadium?

College Basketball 2016-17: National Champion Pick, Odds, Prediction, Dark Horse

USA TODAY Sports

Of course, with future bets, I always look at some of the longer shots in hopes of getting more bang for my buck considering my money will be tied up for months.

Here’s five teams I’m looking at.

UConn - The UConn Huskies will be the favorites to win the AAC and are always a team to watch once the NCAA Tournament arrives. Remember, UConn has been crowned champion three times since 2004 and has five Final Four appearances since 1999. This years Huskies are loaded with explosiveness and experience, as Jalen Adams is a star in the making and players such as Amida Brimah, Rodney Purvis ad Kentan Facey provide depth UConn lacked last season. Alterique Gilbert and Juwan Durham are also high profile recruits who will have chances to play right away. UConn is a top-20 team in the country right now and odds of +5000 to win it all won’t be there later in the season.

Xavier - The Xavier Musketeers were a No. 2 seed last season and return much of the players who made that possible. Trevon Bluiett, Edmond Sumner and Myles Davis were all double-digit scorers last season and make Xavier tough to beat. One of those three guys is capable of taking over any night, which gives the Musketeers an advantage most teams don’t have, as others rely on one guy to carry the load. J.P. Macura should also take another step forward in his third season after averaging 9.4 points and two assists. Xavier is deep with playmakers and makes odds of +2800 tough to pass up.

UCLA - If you want to get real dark horsey, the UCLA Bruins are worth a look with odds of +7800. A combination of Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford makes UCLA scary on the offensive end, as the duo combined for 32.9 points and 8.5 assists last season. Having a five-star point guard in Lonzo Ball doesn’t hurt and Thomas Welsh was a breakout player last season when his minutes increased. The UCLA Bruins are going to fill it up offensively and could feel a bit like the Oregon Ducks from past seasons. UCLA will surprise some people this year and those humongous odds make the Bruins worth a play before the season begins.

Syracuse - Coach Jim Boeheim has mentioned how much he loves his Syracuse roster that’s led by a potential high NBA draft pick in Tyler Lydon. Tyler Roberson is capable of averaging a double-double and DaJuan Coleman will have his best season yet with more minutes. Not to mention Andrew White III was a 16-point scorer last season with Nebraska and Paschal Chukwu is a former 4-star recruit who transferred from Providence. The Syracuse Orange somehow made the Final Four last season. There’s potential to top that effort with a roster that’s head and shoulders more talented. Syracuse and odds of +2500 is a strong play.

Duke - I know these articles are about dark horses and longer shots, but the Duke Blue Devils with +350 odds is still valuable. I don’t remember a team that looked the part of a national champion as this Duke squad. Even those Kentucky teams of the past, as I always had questions with the youth. Duke has three players who are likely going to be top-15 picks in next year’s NBA draft in Marques Bolden, Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum. As if having three lottery picks on one team wasn’t enough, Grayson Allen proved last year he can carry the Blue Devils by himself some nights and drop 20-plus points in his sleep. Amile Jefferson also returns and brings experience after missing much of last year due to injury. I’d be shocked if Duke didn’t win the championship this season, so, yes, I look at this as an easy chance to make 3.5 times your money.

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