College Madness Betting

2018 NCAAB Men’s Championship Odds: Duke Reigns

On August 14, 2017, the Duke Blue Devils secured the 2018 National Championship. That’s if Marvin Bagley III turns out to be everything the pundits say. Before Bagley went on ESPN and told the world he was leaving high school a year early to play for Duke, the Blue Devils were +700 second-favorites on the NCAAB Championship oddsboard, tucked in behind the Michigan State Spartans at +650. The day after Bagley announced his decision, Duke moved into top spot at +500. Now, they’re +400 favorites as we go to press.

Is Bagley that much of a difference-maker? Here’s a look at the top teams on the 2018 March Madness futures market as we get ready for another year of college hoops.

 

1. Duke Blue Devils (+400)

Mike Krzyzewski is one of the best recruiters in college basketball, and Bagley is just one of four five-star recruits he has lined up for 2017, alongside point guard Trevon Duval, shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. and power forward Wendell Carter. However, Bagley is undoubtedly the cream of the crop. He’s the No. 1-ranked power forward and the No. 1 overall player in this year’s class, drawing easy comparisons to Anthony Davis, the top pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

If the comparison between Bagley and Davis plays out, Duke fans will be ecstatic. Davis led the Kentucky Wildcats to the National Championship at the end of his one season in Lexington. That team also had quality freshmen in point guard Marquis Teague and small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Krzyzewski has put together even more talent for this squad, which retains senior guard Grayson Allen and sophomore center Marques Bolden. Coach K has this one-and-done thing figured out.
 

2. Michigan State Spartans (+600)

Tom Izzo’s Spartans have been a consistent force in college basketball betting for some time, but unlike Duke, this year’s team will rely on returning players, none more so than sophomore guard Miles Bridges. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year will be joined by sophomore forward Nick Ward; Bridges and Ward combined for 49.1 points per 40 minutes as rookies. And Izzo did land one five-star recruit in power forward Jaren Jackson, the No. 6-ranked player in the Class of 2017.
 

3. Kentucky Wildcats (+750)

Kentucky is always in the National Championship conversation with John Calipari at the helm. He might be the best recruiter in college, and he’s outdone Krzyzewski in sheer volume by signing six five-star recruits for the new season. Only one of them has enrolled at press time: shooting guard Hamidou Diallo, the hottest prospect at the 2-spot. The others will almost certainly follow, but who will lead them? All five of Kentucky’s top scorers from last year have moved on to greener pastures.
 

4. Arizona Wildcats (+900)

These Wildcats might have some value on the college basketball lines. Sean Miller has quietly put together one of the best teams in the nation, tucked away in the Pac-12 Conference; Miller has a pair of five-star recruits ready to join the reigning conference champions, and while everyone’s talking about Bagley, they might be overlooking DeAndre Ayton, the No. 4-ranked big in this year’s class. Putting him on the same floor as junior guard Allonzo Trier and sophomore guard Rawle Alkins could bring the title back to Tucson for the first time since 1997.

 

5. Kansas Jayhawks, Missouri Tigers, and North Carolina Tar Heels (+1600)

The defending champions from North Carolina have plenty of fans, but they could be in store for the same kind of rebuilding year that followed their previous title win in 2009. Roy Williams lost four key contributors (Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley) from last year’s squad, and he doesn’t have any five-star recruits to replace them. Bill Self does have one blue-chipper joining the Jayhawks: power forward Billy Preston. But Self also has some work to do after watching Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson leave for the NBA.

Could Missouri end up shocking the world in their first season under head coach Cuonzo Martin? Their presence on the college basketball futures market can be traced to Michael Porter, the No. 2 prospect in the nation behind Bagley. Porter will be joined by younger brother Jontay, also a five-star recruit at power forward; they’re the sons of assistant coach Michael Porter Sr. With most of last year’s team returning for 2017, the Missouri Porters are a compelling dark horse on the March Madness odds list.

 

 

*Odds as of October 24, 2017