Duke No. 1 in Associated Press Basketball Poll, Favorite to Win Title

Posted on: November 2, 2017, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: November 2, 2017, 01:19h.

The Duke Blue Devils have won five NCAA Basketball Championships in the university’s history and they are ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Basketball poll and favored to win their sixth title. The team lost last year in the second round of the tournament.

Duke Basketball
Iconic Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has his No. 1 ranked Blue Devils as the 5-1 favorite to win the NCAA Championship. (Image: Associated Press)

They also saw four of their starters depart and those spots could be replaced with four freshman but oddsmakers still made them the 5-1 pick over Michigan State, who comes in at 13-2. The Spartans also lost in the second round but returns three of their starters and picked up a top recruit in freshman Jaren Jackson, who was ranked as the seventh best newcomer.

Arizona is next at 8-1 and Kentucky follows at 10-1. The future odds for UK Coach John Calipari’s team stayed the same in April and they were installed as the top pick to win the NCAA Tournament, but saw the Blue Devils, Spartans and Wildcats leap in front of them during the summer. Duke started at 12-1, MSU and UofA were 20-1.

Scandal Affects Louisville’s Odds

One team that saw its stock drop because of the recruiting scandal that saw four assistant coaches arrested in September was Louisville.

Legendary coach Rick Pitino was fired because the university was ensnared in the controversy and he is under investigation by the FBI, though he has yet to be charged with any crimes.

The Cardinals were listed second behind Kentucky at 12-1 before Pitino was relieved of his duties and star recruit Brian Bowen suspended because of the alleged improper recruiting tactics. Louisville is at 20-1.

Part of the reason is because they now have 32-year-old David Padgett as head coach who has never been at the helm of a team, much less one with such high expectations. But he said the program will continue to compete at a high level despite the turmoil.

“Obviously the circumstances are difficult, but we have to have a basketball season that’s as normal as possible,” he said.

Other Schools Remain Unscathed

Ironically the four colleges that saw assistant coaches arrested on charges of fraud and corruption saw their odds improve after the news of the indictments went public.

Arizona’s Emanuel “Book” Richardson was reportedly given a $20,000 bribe and was fired by the school, but the team went from 20-1 to 8-1 and is ranked No. 3 in the AP poll. USC, which terminated assistant coach Tony Bland, is at No. 10 and went from 60-1 to 28-1.

Auburn was listed at 300-1 before Chuck Person was dismissed from the staff and is facing 10 years in jail for his part of the bribery scandal. They are now tabbed at 125-1.

Oklahoma State also was 300-1 before Lamont Evans was removed from his position. The Cowboys are now a 100-1 selection.