- Purdue basketball has become a major betting target ahead of the 2023-24 season.
- About one-sixth of all college basketball championship handle is on Purdue.
- Zach Edey is only the second consensus NPOY to return to college since 1987.
College basketball season is only a few more weeks away, which means it’s time to start thinking about college basketball odds and the futures market for the upcoming season.
At least, that’s what I told myself when I put in a note to BetMGM’s data team last week when I asked for some updated numbers in the college basketball national championship odds market.
As is often the case, I learned a few really interesting tidbits from the current market numbers at the BetMGM online sportsbook.
College Basketball National Championship betting at @BetMGM
▪️ Kansas +1000
▪️ Duke +1300
▪️ Kentucky +1400
▪️ Kansas 16.5%
▪️ Michigan State (+1600) 13.2%
▪️ Duke 6.9%
▪️ Kansas 18.2%
▪️ Purdue (+1400) 16.8%
▪️ Arizona (+2000) 13.6%
— John Ewing (@johnewing) September 19, 2023
In case you haven’t been following the numbers all summer, here’s a brief summary of what you missed. After winning the national championship, UConn was priced as the opening favorite to win this upcoming season’s national championship.
However, UConn was quickly bet out of the top spot in the table – likely because the Huskies have a history of popping up and winning random championships, then retreating down into the bottom half of the AP Top 25.
Kansas – the 2022 national champion – quickly became a +1000 favorite. And while the Jayhawks have at times shared co-favorite status with Duke, a significant 18% plurality has held behind Kansas throughout the offseason.
Kansas makes sense as a favorite. This is a blueblood program with a championship coach that regularly gets great recruits. They won it all just two seasons ago.
However, I was surprised to see that the No. 2 target behind Kansas was a somewhat surprising candidate: Purdue.
Purdue Men’s Basketball Odds for the 2024 National Championship
Purdue opened at +1800 in April, behind a handful of notable contenders – Kentucky, Arizona, UConn, Kansas, and Duke. BetMGM lowered its price to +1400 after a hot market kept hitting the gas on Purdue.
That might not sound like a big movement, but the financial subtext is pretty significant. Only 5.6% of national championship tickets were on Purdue as of Sept. 18, but a whopping 16.8% of the overall handle accounted for Purdue championship tickets.
In other words, Purdue wasn’t a hugely popular ticket to buy, but it was a favorite among bettors who wager large sums of money that move the market.
More often than not, these are advantage bettors, or sharps.
If You Can Forget About How 2023 Ended, Betting on Purdue Makes a Lot of Sense
Many bettors might recoil at the idea of betting on Purdue. After all, the Boilermakers have more March failures than success stories with head coach Matt Painter’s career NCAA Tournament record.
And when it comes to Purdue’s tournament results, I probably don’t have to tell you that none are more painful than the loss to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson last season. It was just the second time a No. 16 team upset a No. 1 since the tournament expanded to its six-round format in 1985.
But if you can get past the FDU upset and focus on this season, Purdue makes a ton of sense as a real, top-end contender. The No. 1 reason is, of course, that 2023 consensus National Player of the Year Zach Edey is still in West Lafayette for another year.
Edey’s return is no trivial feat. In the modern era of college basketball, most players who win national awards immediately cash in their chips and move on to the NBA.
While Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe returned to college for the 2022-23 season after an unfavorable draft grade, no other consensus POY had returned to college since David Robinson in 1987.
Edey averaged 22.9 points and 12.9 rebounds last season, shooting 60.7% from the floor.
It’s not just Edey that will make Purdue tick this season, though. I asked Lafayette Journal & Courier sports reporter Sam King about Purdue’s betting favorite status, and he was quick to emphasize the strength of the entire team.
“I can understand why a lot of people would bet on Purdue based on everyone returning,” King said.
Purdue’s roster largely returns intact, with an overwhelming amount of last year’s roster coming back. The exceptions are two guards: David Jenkins, a fifth-year senior who graduated, and Brandon Newman, another guard who transferred out to Western Kentucky.
To replenish the stocks at guard, Painter added fifth-year senior Lance Jones from Southern Illinois, in addition to incoming four-star shooting guard Myles Colvin.
King predicted that Jones and Colvin would actually be a net upgrade over Newman and Jenkins.
“Jones is a better defender than Jenkins, and Colvin is far more athletic than Newman,” King said. “Colvin is more athletic than anyone on Purdue’s roster.”
Purdue Basketball 2024 Revenge Tour
There’s one other factor that may be playing a part in the Purdue betting Renaissance.
Five years ago, when No. 16 UMBC beat No. 1 Virginia and shocked the world, it spurred an incredible comeback story in Charlottesville. UVA bounced back in a big way after the upset, going on a miraculous run to Virginia’s first-ever national championship in men’s basketball.
Virginia head coach Tony Bennett’s style is much more based on inspiration than revenge, so I doubt the UMBC upset yielded any locker room calls for a campaign of blood and vengeance in March 2019.
But Bennett undoubtedly used it as a key motivator for his team. He continuously referenced the “painful gift” his team was given by UMBC.
“If you learn to use adversity right, it will buy you a ticket to a place you can’t go to any other way,” Bennett said at the time. “This was our united pursuit.”
Even right after the national championship game against Texas Tech, in the press conference, he had connected the dots.
“What happened last year – that can only mature you,” Bennett said. “I don’t know of anything else that would allow these guys to be able to handle this situation, to play through stuff, to have a perspective, and poise, and resiliency – unless they went through something that hard.”
His players all echoed it, too.
“[The UMBC loss] drew us even closer together,” Ty Jerome said. “It made us enjoy every part of the season even more. It made us enjoy each other even more. We grew more united, enjoyed every part of the season.”
The history of sports is littered with tales of teams who felt rightly aggrieved by the outcome of a previous season. It’s not just college basketball, either – consider the 2014 San Antonio Spurs. There are dozens of these kinds of avenging comeback stories.
Personally, I think this is all far too narrative-focused and ultimately irrelevant to the basketball that’ll be played on the court. But if Painter, Edey, and the Boilermakers are playing mad in March 2024, Purdue will be a very difficult team to beat.
Apparently, some bettors are counting on it.
College Basketball Futures Betting
College basketball futures are always available at BetMGM!
From the offseason through the postseason, you can view markets for national champion, conference champions, awards, and more. It’s a unique way to maintain your excitement throughout the year.
Visit the sportsbook today for all available online sports betting opportunities!
Place NBA Wagers at BetMGM
At the sportsbook, you can bet on NBA odds (and college basketball odds) with mobile sports betting and online sports betting.
From live sports betting to parlays, the best basketball betting experience is at BetMGM.