The Duke Blue Devils (29-5) haven’t lost since star Zion Williamson returned. They cruised through the ACC tournament in beating Syracuse, North Carolina, and Florida State, and in doing so solidified their standing as the overall No. 1 seed for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament – aka March Madness.
The ACC champs are the Las Vegas favorites, too. The Westgate SuperBook has the Blue Devils at 9/4 to win it all. At those odds, bettors will win $225 for every $100 wagered should Duke cut down the nets in Minneapolis. “
It’s tough to determine what our potential is,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Saturday. “I just want to have us play as good as we possibly can play right now. I hope we’re in this tournament for a long time — that will make us even better.”
Gonzaga has the next shortest odds at 9/2, with $100 returning $450 should the Bulldogs emerge victorious. UNC and Virginia – the other No. 1 seeds – round out the top four at 6/1.
The Big Ten has widely been considered the strongest conference in men’s college basketball this year. The conference sends a record eight teams to the NCAA tourney – Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, Minnesota, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio State, and Wisconsin.
The ACC sends seven, but the conference is also setting records in 2019. This year marks the first time in March Madness history that one conference claimed three of the four No. 1 seeds.
The early action has been on Duke. FanDuel reports that 59 percent of its customers have the Blue Devils winning their third title this decade.
The daily fantasy sports turned sportsbook adds that its largest wager to date is a $25,000 bet on Virginia at +750. Should the Cavaliers win the championship, that bettor would net $187,500.
As for those Big Ten schools, conference champ Michigan State has the shortest title odds at 14/1. Michigan is next at 20/1, followed by Purdue (30/1), Ohio State and Wisconsin (100/1), Maryland and Iowa (300/1), and Minnesota (500/1).
Other notables include Kentucky (12/1), Tennessee (16/1), and Texas Tech (25/1).
Four teams beat the Blue Devils this year – Syracuse, Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, and rival UNC managed the feat twice.
Unfortunately for Coach K’s team, Duke could be facing one of those teams in the regional semifinals. Assuming the Blue Devils prevail over the play-in game victor between NC Central/North Dakota State and win in the second round over either VCU or UCF, Virginia Tech might be waiting to play upset again.
The Hokies will first need to get by Saint Louis in the first round, and then beat either Mississippi or Liberty.
Virginia Tech has lost only twice in the last month, and both games were overtime losses without star Justin Robinson. He’s back for March Madness, making VT a dangerous underdog.
However, it is worth noting that Duke was without Williamson when the Hokies beat the Blue Devils 77-72 last month.