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Throughout one of the craziest college basketball seasons in recent memory, the AP Poll and the betting markets have fluctuated dramatically - but not always in the same ways.
While polls tend to reflect what's already happened, futures odds are, fittingly, focused on what's ahead. Finding the biggest discrepancies in the numbers can reveal teams that are being overvalued by the past or aren't getting enough respect moving forward.
Below are the title odds for the latest AP Poll Top 25 teams (and notable unranked squads) along with notes on a few that are ranked higher or lower than their prices would suggest.
|San Diego State||+2000||4|
No. 4 San Diego State (+2000)
San Diego State has been a mainstay in the top five for the last five weeks, but oddsmakers are still doubting its chances without a household name on the roster. Nonetheless, the Aztecs sit fourth in KenPom rankings with both a top-eight offense and defense; only Duke (+800) can say the same.
SDSU has a 67.7% chance of running the table before its conference tournament, per KenPom, and will be heavily favored in every game. If the Aztecs snatch one of the top four seeds, their price is sure to tighten by tourney time, which makes this an excellent time to buy.
No. 8 Florida State (+4000)
Florida State is tied for the 17th-shortest odds despite a 21-4 start to the season. That's because in a down year for the ACC, the record doesn't mean much - only one of those 21 wins came against a current AP Poll Top 25 team.
As usual, the Seminoles' length is their calling card - they rank No. 1 in average height and have posted elite defensive turnover rates - but they're offensively challenged, which is never a good sign for a potential title team. They're also outside of the top 20 in net efficiency, meaning these odds might even be too short.
No. 9 Penn State (+3000)
Since 2002, 17 of the 18 national champions have finished the season with both a top-20 offense and defense. Four teams fit the bill this year: Kansas (+700), Duke (+800), San Diego State (+2000), and Penn State (+3000).
The Nittany Lions have defeated three of KenPom's top 15 teams - two coming on the road - during their eight-game winning streak and rank seventh in both T-Rank and Sagarin ratings. This could be the biggest steal on the board.
No. 16 Seton Hall (+1600)
Are we sure Seton Hall is the seventh-best team in America, as these odds would suggest? The Pirates' defense is certainly legit - helping them weather the nation's 10th-toughest schedule to date - but their offense has scored fewer than one point per possession in five of their seven defeats.
Overall, Seton Hall's resume is light on impressive wins and its offense doesn't have a clear path to scoring points. Fade these short odds.
No. 25 Ohio State (+4000)
The Buckeyes spent four weeks unranked before Monday, but their price is still tied with three top-15 teams - including No. 8 Florida State - and is shorter than six squads ranked ahead of them. So, are the pollsters or oddsmakers wrong?
Don't forget that the Buckeyes peaked at No. 2 in the polls before losing six of seven games. Five of those defeats came against KenPom top-35 teams, and Ohio State is still a top-10 squad by efficiency - even with its shoddy win-loss record. As crazy as it sounds, this price may actually be a bargain, ranking aside.
Michigan State (+2000)
This is a classic case of polls reacting to W-L records more than the betting market does. The Spartans have lost nine games, more than any ranked team, but they've also played the eighth-toughest schedule in the country. By advanced metrics, they're still a top-10 team and have the experience to make a run.
At this price, though, you're already paying for all that. Michigan State is tied for the eighth-shortest odds despite a 4-7 record against KenPom top-30 teams. You're better off buying SDSU, Penn State, or Ohio State than biting the bullet here.
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.