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As if this last week without sports hasn't been sobering enough for bettors, consider that Thursday was supposed to be the first full day of this year's NCAA Tournament.
Sometimes the best way to deal with the present is to look far, far into the future - like a year from now, when March Madness will surely return in full force. So here's a look at the futures oddsboard for the 2020-21 season, with five teams worth betting now:
|San Diego State||+2500|
It's rarely advantageous to bet the favorite this early in such a crowded field, but when are Gonzaga's odds going to be much better than this? The Bulldogs continue to rip off undefeated or one-loss seasons and routinely enter March at 10-1 odds or shorter, and they're primed to do so once again behind unsung star Filip Petrusev and a strong crop of young talent around him.
The Bears are expected to lose just one starter (Freddie Gillespie) from a team that tore up the Big 12 and looked poised for a deep run this March. Now they'll add another solid recruiting class to Scott Drew's upperclassmen-heavy roster, which should benefit from Kansas' expected dip next season. This is an absolute bargain at 16-1.
Maybe bettors are hesitant to buy this team at short odds after this past season's debacle, but UNC will enter the 2020-21 season with the nation's third-best recruiting class and a frontcourt likely to return 2019 five-star forward Armando Bacot and second-leading scorer Garrison Brooks. The Tar Heels' roster will have some real depth and star power, which it lacked before, it just needs to find its shooting touch.
Unless oddsmakers know something we don't about Luka Garza's status, this price doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Garza could win the 2019-20 Naismith Trophy and return for another season with the Hawkeyes, who featured a top-five offense this past season and will have the backcourt talent to support their star big man once again.
If five-star commits Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson are as good as advertised, these are stellar odds for a Tennessee team that will return a strong core from this past season's group, which was beset by injuries, inexperience, and a short rotation. The latter two shouldn't be an issue in 2020-21, making the Vols intriguing long shots.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.