At this point in the college football season, trends start to emerge and the storylines for the year become clear.
There’s been no 2022 college football surprise story more bizarre and interesting to watch so far than the collective emergence of traditional “basketball schools” on the gridiron. Syracuse, Duke, UCLA and Kansas would be a pretty standard Final Four in March Madness, but it’s much rarer to see them fighting for spots in college football’s Top 25. But halfway through the college football season, here we are with the basketball schools on top.
Why are they winning and will they keep it up? We’ll break it down below.
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College Football Surprises: Basketball Schools On Top
|School||SU Record (Profit)||ATS Record (Profit)|
|Syracuse||5-0 (+$290.11)||4-1 (+$263.64)|
|Duke||4-1 (+$306.49)||3-2 (+$72.73)|
|North Carolina||4-1 (+$108.03)||2-2-1 (-$13.85)|
|Temple||2-3 (-$254.79)||3-2 (+$72.73)|
|UCLA||5-0 (+$153.29)||3-2 (+$72.73)|
|Kansas||5-0 (+$873.36)||5-0 (+$454.55)|
|Kentucky||4-1 (+$108.29)||4-1 (+$263.64)|
For some schools, football season is just the basketball offseason. But in 2022, the traditional basketball schools have showed up in a big way for college football. As shown above, six of the top seven NCAA schools in all-time basketball wins are currently 4-1 or better with positive profits in the college football season.
These schools don’t usually have this kind of football success, either. Over the last five years, the top seven basketball schools shown above are 205-246 straight up (45.5%) in college football with a combined -$4,607.03 in moneyline profits. But in 2022, they’re 29-6 for +$1,584.78 in winnings.
Why Are Basketball Schools Winning On The Gridiron?
There’s no obvious reason why 2022 has been the year of the basketball school, but it may not be coincidence. This season could be the culmination of years of investment from traditional basketball schools into football programs. Sure, March Madness and hoops are profitable, but for the biggest schools in the United States, football is the real moneymaker.
The teams that have the most money to throw around on college sports — Texas, LSU, Florida, Texas A&M — are schools with elite and historically successful football programs. Eight of the nine highest-paid coaches in all college sports are head coaches of football programs, with only Kansas’ Bill Self cracking the list for basketball.
We’ve seen these basketball schools make concerted efforts to improve the facilities and perceptions of their football programs in recent years, even leading to public disputes and jockeying for funding between basketball and football coaches. Just a few weeks ago, Kentucky coaches John Calipari (basketball) and Mark Stoops (football) traded words, with Calipari claiming Kentucky was and should continue to be a “basketball school” first.
Now this is still a limited sample size, and just one season, but money makes the world go around — especially in college sports — and the ever-increasing profits of football programs could be forcing these basketball schools to become a little more well-rounded.
You can bet on these basketball schools to continue their 2022 success at Sportsbook:
Is Kansas Football For real?
While Syracuse and UCLA’s 5-0 starts have certainly been unexpected, the biggest surprise starter of these basketball schools has been Kansas.
After seven straight last-place finishes in the Big 12, the Jayhawks are 5-0 in 2022. They’ve also covered the spread in every game and are on their way to the best Kansas football season in 15 years. With the combination of coach Lance Leipold and QB Jalon Daniels, the Jayhawks have a real college football offense that can match some of the better teams in the country.
Averaging 41.6 points per game, the Jayhawks rank third in the Big 12, well ahead of perceived bowl contenders like Oklahoma and Texas. They also have a better defense than Oklahoma State and OU, too. The schedule gets tough now for Kansas, though. The Jayhawks’ next five games come against TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. They’ll be underdogs in all five of those games, likely, but that hasn’t stopped them yet this season.
While the national championship odds haven’t respected Kansas yet, a few more upsets may force the oddsmakers’ hands to at least list odds for the Jayhawks. If we’re being honest, the Jayhawks aren’t going to win the title or even sniff the playoff, but they certainly have what it takes to win six games and make a bowl game. And that’s no small accomplishment for this basketball school.