College basketball futures: Grand Canyon or Liberty to be this year’s FAU?



Grand Canyon, Liberty worth NCAA Championship bets?

In the College Basketball Betting Guide, one of my favorite futures plays was Grand Canyon to win the national championship. 

Yes, that school named after a national park with little chance of winning the tournament was a recommended play. The rationale was GCU, a talented veteran team in line to win the WAC  outright, was mispriced in the 2,000-1 range. The odds for this NCAA tournament-caliber squad were double than the basement level power conference teams. 

Instead of backing GCU to win the WAC – the only way a program in this one bid league will advance – at a price that will likely be even money or so, another option was getting a National Championship ticket on them at an astronomical price with the plan of monetizing it. 

If the Antelopes are good as expected, and so far GCU is out to a 3-1 start with a close loss to South Carolina, they could get a higher than expected NCAA Tournament seed which would make it easier to bet against them with a ticket that has so much equity.

Right now Joe Lunardi’s bracketology has GCU as a 12th seed. Just think about how many bettors like to take underdogs on this line come tournament time. That makes the favorite available at a lower minus price. 

Basically I valued the small investment needed for a GCU NCAA tournament ticket more than using a lot more units to back them to win a conference tournament where so many things can go wrong for the low odds favorite.

After this longshot option got some traction in the College Basketball Betting Guide and on the VSiN air, that 2,000-1 price quickly disappeared. Sports books all of a sudden found themselves with some unexpected Antelopes liability and dropped their odds to 500-1.

At that reduced price, it doesn’t make much sense to monetize a GCU national championship ticket.

Good news though, there is another possibility using all of this aforementioned logic still on the board. 

Some books have Liberty at 1,000-1 to win the national championship. The time to monetize is now.

The Flames have yet to get national attention but they are 5-0 with solid wins against Furman, Wichita State and Vermont. 

Liberty is in a diluted Conference USA, so when it’s conference tournament time they could be listed at a minus number to win it. 

The reason to back the Flames now is books have gotten no play on them in accordance to their lack of national profile. 

That could change next week when more eyes are directed to this squad now up to 43rd in the KenPom rankings.

Lunardi also has Liberty currently on the 12th line. That prognostication could soon be different and closer to a 10th seed. 

On November 30th, the Flames travel to Boca Raton to play Florida Atlantic in a game that should generate a lot of talk about mid-majors with NCAA tournament aspirations. 

If Liberty beats FAU, they are officially on the map and that 1,000-1 will be gone. Even if Liberty loses that game, its profile should get a boost by media members making a comparison with them and what FAU did last year.

As a point of comparison, KenPom has this year’s FAU squad ranked lower than Liberty at 50th in the country. Also, at this point last year, KenPom had FAU ranked 76th in the nation.

Come the end of the regular season, Liberty could very well have 25+ wins.

Liberty’s other big non-conference games include Charleston and Alabama on neutral courts and Grand Canyon in Lynchburg. 

These games regardless of the outcome will bring more coverage Liberty’s way and there is no shortage in interest from media members and bettors in finding this year’s FAU.

After a quick start going largely unnoticed, it could be Liberty and that means a proactive bettor can use a small amount on a 1,000-1 national championship ticket with hopes of monetizing it in March.

The moment you hear Liberty mentioned in any media coverage, that option goes away.

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