College

NCAAB Betting: Is This Duke’s Year – Again?

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(Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)

The sports world gets pretty crazy this time of year. Football is in full swing, the NBA and NHL are both well into their respective seasons, soccer is happening all over the world – and then you have NCAA Division I men’s hoops. Not everyone pays close attention to the early non-conference games, but if you want to make sharp college basketball picks, now’s the time to get started. Here are the Top 5 favorites at press time to win the National Championship, as per the futures market at Bovada.

Duke Blue Devils (+550)

The Blue Devils are performing better than anyone else in college hoops right now, especially on offense, where guards Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson are each pouring in around 20 points per 40 minutes. However, the added staunch defending of forward Amile Jefferson (2.7 blocks per 40 minutes) makes him the most valuable Devil thus far. Duke have all the talent in the world, but at +550, the payout is just too low.

Kentucky Wildcats (+600)

It’s hard to recommend Kentucky at this price, either. John Calipari has assembled yet another fantastic crew of one-and-done players, none more exciting than freshman guards Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox, the team’s leading scorers after seven games. But like Duke, the Wildcats are recent national champions with too many people betting on them to win another title.

North Carolina Tar Heels (+650)

Here we go again. Outstanding at both ends of the court? Check. Recent champions with unreasonably high market expectations? Check. The Tar Heels could certainly go all the way behind junior guard Joel Berry and junior forward Justin Jackson, but +650 is a steep price to pay for a team that isn’t even the best in its own conference (cough cough Duke cough).

Kansas Jayhawks (+700)

And the hits just keep on coming. The Jayhawks haven’t won the Big Dance since 2008, but they’ve been to the Elite Eight three times since then, including last year. This is an elite program with a strong balance of rookies and veterans, led by senior guard Frank Mason and next year’s leading candidate to go No. 1 in the NBA Draft, freshman guard Josh Jackson. Something in the +1000 range would be a fairer price.

Villanova Wildcats (+1400)

Now we’re talking. Perennially underrated Villanova is easily the best NCAAB pick of the bunch, with a payout twice as big as Kansas and nearly three times that of Duke – even though these Wildcats are the defending national champions. Senior guard Josh Hart might not even get drafted next summer, but he’s one of the best players in college today. Bet against Villanova at your peril.

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