It was a short absence but Villanova is back atop the AP Men’s basketball poll after a week and they have also seen their odds to win the NCAA Championship decrease.
The winners of the title in 2016 have been No. 1 four of the 10 weeks of the season.
They dropped from the top spot after being upset on Dec. 30 by unranked Butler, 101-93. The Wildcats were a 5 ½-point favorite in that game, but suffered their first loss of the season.
It only took seven days to return to the best spot in the rankings after those above them were upset last week. Michigan State suffered their second loss of the season when they were defeated soundly, 80-64 on Sunday. Duke, the preseason No. 1 also lost decidedly, 96-85 to North Carolina State on Friday.
With those two programs having two losses it was a battle of the one-loss teams and voters thought Villanova was better than West Virginia and Virginia.
Surprise at Sports Book
The two universities following the Wildcats in the polls have caught odds makers off guard a bit. The Mountaineers haven’t been this high in the polls since 1959 when Hall of Fame guard Jerry West led the team to the title game, losing to Cal by a point.
The Cavaliers weren’t even in the top 25 preseason poll but steadily climbed their way up to the No. 3 spot. The team gained respect with voters when they defeated then No. 12 North Carolina and kept the Tar Heels under 50 points.
Villanova hasn’t done anything as spectacular but has been extremely consistent. Before the Butler loss they were the last undefeated team in a major conference.
As a result all three teams have seen their NCAA Championship odds drop. West Virginia went from 25-1 before the season to 20-1. Virginia went from 50-1 to 20-1 and Villanova saw its odds improve from 20-1 to 8-1.
No Ill Affects for Scandal-Tainted Schools
The four programs that saw assistant coaches arrested in a bribery probe that also cost Louisville Coach Rick Pitino his job have not seen much drop off from the controversy. Arizona and Auburn are both still in the top 25, both Oklahoma State and USC have dropped from the rankings.
The Wildcats have the lowest odds among the four to win the title. They are 10-1 favorites behind Villanova (8-1) Duke (6-1) and Michigan State (9-2). Arizona does have three losses on the season and is No. 17.
Auburn, which began the preseason at 300-1, is now 125-1 and cracked the top 25 last week. They are No. 22 and have only one loss on the season.
The Cowboys will be fighting just to get in the tournament. They are currently seventh in the Big 12 Conference and are 250-1 long shots to win the championship.