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The best ways to handicap these three futures markets

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Not everyone is sold on futures bets. Tying up money for an entire season on odds for online gambling that fluctuate every single day on the schedule is not the “sharpest” bet. But tell that to guys who cashed in winners of 10/1 or above taking flyers on outlining contenders in baseball, football, basketball and hockey.
With October almost here, the sports schedule becomes a bit more cluttered with the start of NBA, NHL, and NCAA hoops. We look at each of these futures markets, when the best time to bet them is, and a couple live long shots who could help you cash in big.
NBA Futures
Well, with the way the 2017 offseason has gone, there are a handful of legit contenders and then everybody else. The Golden State Warriors are high atop the futures board, priced at -220 to claim their second straight NBA Championship and third title in the past four seasons.
Golden State’s roster, headlined by Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, has sparked an arms race in the NBA, especially out West where teams like Houston, Oklahoma City, and even Minnesota are stockpiling elite-level talent to make a run at the Dubs. And then you have the East, where the only two possible title contenders are Cleveland and Boston, priced at +700 and +1,000 respectively.
The million-dollar question is: Why bother betting on anyone else to win the title other than the Warriors? And who wants to bet a futures ticket at -220? The best plan of attack here is to wait until Golden State stumbles in the regular season – and it will happen. All great teams go on a slide, especially when the regular season is pretty much a formality. When the Dubs tumble, see what you can get them at. Anything at EVEN money or better is a steal.
Live underdog
Oklahoma City Thunder +2,000
The Thunder have the league MVP in Russell Westbrook and added Paul George and Carmelo Anthony this offseason, hoping to match the Warriors starting five. Behind those three, OKC runs a little thin and that’s where Golden State has the edge. If you have to look beyond the Warriors in the West, the Thunder may be the best bet.
NHL futures
Hockey is a funny market. The Stanley Cup is really up for grabs every year, but we continue to see some of the same teams pegged a bit higher than they should. We’re looking at you Chicago. There is real value in shopping around for the best NHL price from team-to-team because books differ so much. Grabbing a live contender at a good price before the season starts is very possible.
After that, don’t look at the NHL futures until the playoffs are decided. Injuries can play such a role in the fortunes of hockey teams that a futures bet made in the middle of the season can burned up the next night. We’ve seen No. 8 seeds make runs at the Cup in recent years, including Nashville last season, so don’t be afraid to go with a long shot. Take a look at current form and how that team ended the regular season, as momentum is money in the postseason.
Live underdog
Dallas Stars +1,300
Dallas had a down year in 2016-17, finishing near the bottom of the Central Division. The Stars swapped head coaches and brought in former Red Wings skip Ken Hitchcock to run what is truly a talent-rich roster. Alexander Radulov and Martin Hanzal were added to a forward corps already featuring top guns Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza, the blueline got a boost with the addition of Marc Methot, and Ben Bishop was brought in to man the pipes.
NCAA basketball
The college basketball futures look the same every single season: Duke, UNC, Kentucky, Kansas. The power programs recruit the top talents and therefore should have the best teams. And honestly, regardless of how good or bad those schools do in non-conference play and even into league competition, they pretty much stay put at the top of the futures board.
That leaves serious value open behind the bball blue bloods. College basketball is pretty much ignored by the betting public until the tournament begins, and the sharp guys that are wagering on NCAA hoops aren’t getting involved in the futures. The markets are stale all season, which means keep an eye on sleepers and pick them up at big prices, because once the field of 64 is announced on Selection Sunday, that value is gone.
Live underdog
USC Trojans +3,000
On paper, the Trojans have one of the most talented teams in the country and boast the No. 2 recruiting class. Coach Andy Enfield took Southern Cal to the NCAA and won two tournament games after winning 26 regular season contests. The return of sophomore Bennie Boatwright is a big plus, putting the 6-foot-10 forward around new faces like Duke transfer Derryck Thornton and freshmen studs Charles O’Bannon and Jordan Usher.

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