Kentucky, Michigan State, and Duke Top Oddsmakers Picks for 2020 College Basketball Title

Posted on: October 8, 2019, 11:50h. 

Last updated on: October 9, 2019, 10:02h.

We’re now less than a month away from the start of college basketball season, and with teams across the country hitting the practice gym, it’s as good a time as any to look at the odds for the upcoming 2019-20 season.

Tyrese Maxey goes up for a layup at Kentucky’s Pro Day event Sunday. The guard is one of the top freshmen in the country and a reason why oddsmakers have the Wildcats as a favorite to win the 2020 NCAA college basketball title. (Image: Elliott Hess/UK Athletics)

Most US sportsbooks have the same three teams at the top of their boards for the NCAA title, although the order does vary.

FanDuel lists Kentucky as its favorite at +750. Once again, coach John Calipari brings in a talented freshman class, led by Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney. Right behind the Wildcats are Michigan State (+800) and Duke (+900).

William Hill lists Michigan State as its favorite at +600. The Spartans are coming off a Final Four run last season and have three of their top four scorers back. Kentucky is William Hill’s second choice at +700, with Duke at +900.

Duke’s shortest odds are at in Indiana. The Blue Devils, along with Kentucky, are +800, behind Michigan State at +700. The Blue Devils must find replacements for Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish, who led the team to a 32-6 record last year before departing for the NBA.

Kentucky and Michigan State will tip off their seasons against each other on Nov. 5. Duke gets Michigan State on Dec. 3.

Louisville Could Provide Value

While neither the Associated Press nor USA TODAY has released their first polls of the season, several outlets have unveiled their preseason rankings, and it’s an opportunity to find where basketball pundits and oddsmakers differ.

One team that jumps out immediately is Louisville.

The Cardinals return most of the squad from last year’s 20-14 team, led by junior Jordan Nwora, who averaged 17 points a game last season. The 6-7 junior forward is on many shortlists for national player of the year awards. Including Nwora, Louisville returns six of its top seven scorers from last season and boast one of the top recruiting classes in college basketball.

Rob Dauster of has the Cards as a top-four team in his preseason rankings, as does Gary Parrish of CBS Sports. ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has them as one of his top seeds in his preseason NCAA Tournament forecast.

Second-year coach Chris Mack has reminded his players, though, that the team finished last year losing eight of its last 11 games, including a loss to Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

I try to tell our guys: Don’t drink that poison,” Mack said at the ACC’s media day Tuesday. “We haven’t done anything yet, and we’re the same team that felt as low as we did in the NCAA Tournament at the end of the year.”

The sportsbooks aren’t quite as high on Louisville as the pundits. FanDuel lists the Cardinals at +1700, making them its eighth choice along with Florida and Gonzaga. William Hill lists them at +1800, the seventh shortest odds on its board, and BetRivers in Indiana also posts the Cards at +1800, along with Gonzaga.

Other Teams of Note

One team oddsmakers have disagreed on is Virginia. College basketball’s defending national champions are the fifth choice at FanDuel, which lists the Cavaliers at +1300. However, William Hill has made them a longer shot, offering +2200 odds. BetRivers, meanwhile, has the Cavs – who lost three major pieces from last year’s squad – at only +900.

Memphis coach Penny Hardaway attracted the top recruiting class in the nation, and oddsmakers have noticed. FanDuel makes the Tigers the co-fifth choice with Virginia at +1300. William Hill makes Memphis the co-fourth choice, along with North Carolina, at +1200. BetRivers, meanwhile, has Hardaway’s team as its seventh choice at +1600.

At North Carolina, coach Roy Williams must replace his top five scorers from last season, but oddsmakers still rate the Tar Heels highly. They’re the fourth choice at William Hill, with +1200 odds. They’re the co-fifth choice at BetRivers, along with Kansas at +1400. FanDuel lists UNC at +1500.