The top-ranked Duke Blue Devils are the consensus favorite among college basketball analysts to be the team to beat for the 2017-18 NCAAM season. After being upset by South Carolina in the round of 32 during March Madness, the Blue Devils return perhaps the most talented roster in the nation.
Welcoming in Trevon Duval at point guard will allow Grayson Allen to play a more traditional shooting guard role. ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas predicts Allen will once again average over 20 points per game, as he did two years ago.
William Hill has Duke at 3-1 to win the national championship. Considering that there are some other well-stacked teams, and the fact that anything can happen during March Madness and the only thing that should be expected is the unexpected, that line shows a strong belief by oddsmakers that the Blue Devils are the heavy favorites.
A $100 wager coming true in April on Duke winning their sixth NCAA basketball championship with coach Mike Krzyzewski nets the bettor $300.
Duke certainly isn’t short on confidence. Freshman Wendell Carter Jr, who hasn’t yet played an actual regular season college basketball game, said this week, “We should be undefeated this year.”
The college basketball season tips off today. Don’t look for any upset in the Top 10, as no team is playing a ranked opponent. Duke welcomes Elon to Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7:00 pm. The Blue Devils are 19.5-point favorites.
In March, Las Vegas oddsmakers will be just fine with Duke living up to Carter Jr’s lofty forecast. What they won’t be fine with is a title run by Michigan State.
After opening around 20-1, the Spartan’s line has shrunk to as little as 4-1 at the Westgate SuperBook. According to ESPN gaming industry journalist David Purdum, more money has been put on Michigan State than any other team.
#2 MSU is experienced and deep, led by humble superstar Miles Bridges and Cassius Winston. Bilas predicts “a special year in East Lansing” for coach Tom Izzo.
Michigan State also has the luxury of playing in the Big Ten, typically one of the strongest basketball conferences, but this year appears to be readying for an off-year. Other than MSU, the Big Ten has just three other ranked teams, #15 Minnesota, #19 Northwestern, and #20 Purdue.
Traditionally strong programs including Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan and Maryland (which both went to the Sweet 16 last March) are all unranked.
Duke, MSU, and Everyone Else
The Blue Devils and Spartans lead the way, but Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Wichita State, and Villanova are expected to be in the national title conversation throughout the year.
Despite Arizona and Kansas being the third and fourth-ranked teams in the AP poll, bettors like #5 Kentucky’s title odds better. Action on the Wildcats have shortened the team’s odds at William Hill to 6-1.
Arizona is at 8-1, followed by Kansas at 12-1. Sixth-ranked Villanova opens at 20-1. Defending champs #12 UNC is at 22-1.