March Madness betting, odds: UCLA isn't a great title bet after Jaylen Clark injury
The futures market is fun and can lead to some nice payouts, but there's also a golden rule: More can go wrong than it can go right.
For UCLA, a lot went wrong last weekend.
The Bruins got a great win over Arizona, which was big in their push for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Those +1000 odds to win the title last week dropped to +900 at BetMGM on Monday. But that's not why UCLA isn't a good bet.
A big injury for UCLA changes their outlook for the NCAA tournament. Jaylen Clark reportedly has a torn Achilles and is done for the season. If you had a futures ticket on UCLA, it's not looking so good.
Jaylen Clark is a big loss
Clark might be the biggest injury to consider going into the NCAA tournament, as you fill out your brackets.
Clark, a 6-foot-5 senior guard, was UCLA's best defender and one of the best defensive players in the sport. He averaged 13 points and six rebounds. He was UCLA's second-leading scorer this season. It's a massive blow.
UCLA is still at +900 to win the NCAA tournament at BetMGM, but that's probably not a bet you want to make.
UCLA isn't completely dead. The Bruins still have Jaime Jaquez Jr., an All-America candidate, and point guard Tyger Campbell. The Bruins won the Pac-12 by four games and it wasn't all because of Clark. It's still a good team. UCLA could win the Pac-12 tournament this week and it's not crazy to think they could win it all in the NCAA tournament.
But the road got a lot tougher with the news that Clark is done for the season. It's probably not a team you want to back in your brackets or bets anymore.
UCLA faces uphill battle
There's a reason UCLA coach Mick Cronin didn't want to tell the media that Clark was done for the year. That news is likely to affect UCLA's seeding. The Bruins still could get a No. 1 seed if they win the conference tournament and Purdue doesn't win the Big Ten tournament, but it seems less likely. That means UCLA would have a slightly tougher road to a title, on top of playing without one of their most valuable players.
If not for Clark's injury, UCLA was looking like a good bet to win it all in a wide-open field. They dominated conference play, are an elite defensive team and had stars on the roster. They are a brand name in college basketball and would have been a popular pick for those filling out brackets.
Everything depends on matchups, but it's hard to see UCLA making it to the Final Four. A first weekend loss is possible. There are too many other similar teams who didn't just lose an elite defender and second-leading scorer.
It would be a heck of a story if UCLA overcame Clark's injury to win it all. It's just not worth betting on anymore.