One competition is already under way, the other is about to get going, but the markets are just hotting up. We break down the big bets across Europe’s top two basketball competitions to find the best value for punters everywhere
Baskonia are the big breaker
Arbitrage is vital in a competition built around a Final Four format. Your goal before the opening round of games is to have a team you can, at worst, cash in by the playoffs and ideally hang on to all the way to the Final Four. There’s one team that jumps out above all others in that regard this season and that’s the hosts of the Final Four. It’s been argued in plenty of corners that the biggest signing of the off-season was off a play who didn’t go anywhere, Tornike ‘Toko’ Shengelia and it’s really hard to argue with that. As my buddy Moshe Barda likes to say, No Toko No Bueno. With a healthy Shengelia, Baskonia are a threat to anyone on any night. With the Final Four in Vitoria this season, you’ve got to like them as the insurance team in Euroleague betting at 25/1 in some sportsbooks.
The front runners
There are few surprises amongst the top sides in Euroleague betting this season. CSKA Moscow start the season at no better than 13/5 which is, frankly, an insult to bettors. Likewise, the 16/5 on Fenerbahce as second favourites and 5/1 on defending champions Real Madrid in third is just too miserly for this competition.
When bettors at sites like Betingtop10.com/USA seek out these kind of odds, they know what is normal for a league with the depth of the top of Euroleague. They expect the favourites to be no shorter than 7/2 and, realistically, more like 4/1. Going all the way to third favourites at 5/1 is poor form although Real, at least, should be a decent early season cover for Baskonia at that price. While anyone with a functioning brain fancies CSKA to make it to Vitoria, their record in Final Fours is so bad that nobody wants to buy them as the cover for a price this short. Bookies need to loosen up to drive some real action here.
The also rans
The only other value pick in Euroleague early on is Zalgiris, at 40/1 to win it all. I nearly went for them over Baskonia as the one to build your season’s betting around but you can’t go against a side as talented as the Vitoria club when it’s hosting the biggest show in European club basketball. The worst bet is undoubtedly Barcelona who have once again overhauled the roster but somehow are tabbed at 20/1. Come one lads, give me a break.
Down towards the bottom of the pile, with the exception of Khimki, the market has this spot on. At 50/1, Khimki are a touch too long but not a lock for anything. Darussafaka (200/1), Bayern (100/1), and Buducnost (1,000/1) all have odds of teams that are likely to change their priorities awfully early in the campaign.
Oh wow Zenit
The biggest value bet in Eurocup may be the biggest value bet not just in all of European basketball or all of basketball. In all seriousness, Zenit St Petersburg to win Eurocup at 14/1 may be the best value bet on the planet right now and if there’s gambling in other parts of this universe, I’m going to put this punt up there with the best the cosmos has to offer.
The return of Brandon Jennings to Europe has been nothing short of devastating. A healthy Jennings is a nightmare for any opponent at Euroleague level. Dropping down to the second tier, you’ve got a walking talking MVP favourite who could carry this team all the way to the biggest trophy in its history in his maiden season with the club. The rest of the roster has real depth and is built to work around a natural scoring guard like Jennings.
This may be the smartest assembled roster in non salary cap hoops. Zenit know they can’t put together a CSKA or even a Khimki but they also know that’s not what’s needed to win Eurocup.
The argument only grows stronger when you look at the odds of the teams above them. Unics Kazan are wildly overpriced at 7/1, despite being third favourites. Lokomotiv Kuban’s 4/1 as favourites is focused too much on what they did last year and not what they have to work with this season. Similarly Valencia could win Eurocup but they are not so good as to be worthy of 5/1. As for Crvena Zvezda at 15/2, I love my guys in Belgrade but that’s a ridiculous price. In this market, you’ve just got to jump on Zenit.