Duke in the Driver’s Seat for March Madness
The Duke Blue Devils are one of those teams fans love to hate. And this year’s model might be the most polarizing of them all, with trip-happy Grayson Allen stealing the headlines from his talented teammates. But that hasn’t stopped Duke from moving all the way to the top of the 2017 March Madness futures market. At press time, the Blue Devils are +600 on the odds list, ahead of the No. 1-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (+700) and the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks (+750).
Duke certainly has the talent to pull it off. Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s program has won the NCAA men’s basketball championship five times since he took over in 1980; Duke last won the title in 2015, when Allen (+7.3 BPM) was a freshman and Amile Jefferson (+10.4 BPM) was a junior. Both players are back for more and they’re joined by senior Matt Jones (+7.9 BPM), along with several talented underclassmen.
But is Duke better than the Gonzaga Bulldogs (28-0 SU, 19-5-1 ATS)? The Bulldogs don’t have the same championship pedigree as Duke, and they don’t face the same level of competition out in the West Coast Conference. However, Gonzaga has destroyed everything in its path, winning 20 straight games by double-digits. Don’t be fooled by the Cinderella label.
The defending champions are getting overlooked, too. The Villanova Wildcats (26-2 SU, 14-13 ATS) are No. 2 in the polls this week, so they offer value at +1000 on the NCAAB futures market. Playing in the watered-down Big East hasn’t done much to raise Villanova’s profile. Neither did getting upset on the road in Butler (+2.5) and Marquette (+5.5). But overall, the ‘Cats have played very good basketball against a fairly tough schedule.
There’s one other team that’s moving quietly up the March Madness odds list: the West Virginia Mountaineers (21-6 SU, 12-10 ATS). They have to play in the shadow of Kansas (24-3 SU, 8-16-1 ATS) in the Big 12, leaving the Mountaineers sitting at No. 12 on the AP rankings – and making them a solid value pick at +2800 to win their first-ever Tournament. That February 27 game at Baylor (7 PM ET) will say a lot about whether WVU is ready to take the next step, so keep your eyes peeled, and enjoy the Madness.
*Odds as of February 21, 2017