As the home to the best basketball players in the world, the NBA is always ready to put on a show. Yet, when it comes to the most exciting event the sport has to offer, nothing compares to college basketball’s March Madness. And something tells us next year’s affair is going to be a doozy.
The single-elimination, winner-takes-all NCAA tournament consistently lives up to the hype because of its unpredictability. The same, however, cannot be said for the teams usually favored to win the whole thing. According to Vegas, here’s a look at the odds-on favorites to be the last squad standing.
The Villanova Wildcats lost a lot of talented players to this year’s NBA Draft, including Jalen Brunson (2018 AP Player of the Year), Mikal Bridges, and Donte DiVincenzo (2018 Final Four Most Outstanding Player). Still, when you win two titles in three years, expectations don’t change because of a few minor setbacks. If any coach in the country will have his team ready to compete at a high level, it’s ‘Nova’s Jay Wright.
The Kentucky Wildcats had a disappointing season last year. The team went 26-11, finished 10-8 in SEC play, and got bounced in the South Regional semifinal of the NCAA tournament. But that was last season. Under coach John Calipari, who recruits top players as well as any head coach in the country, the Wildcats are always a threat to cut down the nets. The 2018–19 season will be no different.
The Kansas Jayhawks made it to the Final Four last year — the program’s third trip under coach Bill Self — but were completely outclassed by the eventual national champion, Villanova. But we’re talking about one of the country’s premier bluebloods here. Self will have this stacked squad poised to make a run in 2018–19. You can take that to the bank.
Head coach Mark Few has turned Gonzaga into one of the most successful programs in college basketball. Under his guidance, the Zags have won 17 regular-season conference titles, 15 conference tournament titles, and made one trip to the Final Four (2017). However, the school is still searching for that first elusive title. Vegas oddsmakers clearly feel next year could be the year.
Like Villanova, Duke lost a boatload of talent to the next level. And yet, all Mike Krzyzewski did was restock the cupboard with one of the greatest recruiting classes college basketball has ever seen. If freshman phenoms R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Zion Williamson, and Tre Jones can develop chemistry quickly and play up to their potential, the Blue Devils will be nearly impossible to beat.
Other teams to watch:
- Nevada (+1000)
- North Carolina (+1100)
- Virginia (+2000)
- Michigan State (+2500)
- Michigan (+2800)
- Oregon (+3500)
Statistics courtesy of SR-College Basketball.
Follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonAlsher.