The Duke Blue Devils are early title favorites on the 2017-18 college basketball odds board, at least at some locations. Didn’t we say the same thing last year?
March Madness was kind to us here at the home office, but none of that matters now – it’s done, done, on to the next one. The Kentucky Wildcats, as you may recall, opened as 10-1 favorites earlier this month to win the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. That’s ancient history, too; as we go to press, it’s the Duke Blue Devils on top, checking in as low as +750.
Not every sportsbook agrees. Bovada has the Michigan State Spartans installed as +800 favorites, ahead of Kentucky (+1100) and Duke (+1200). And the guys at The Greek have a three-way tie at +800 featuring Kentucky, Duke and the Louisville Cardinals. You’re almost always going to find a discrepancy in prices this early in the season. But do the Blue Devils belong in your NCAAB picks at any of these odds?
It didn’t look like it at first. Mike Krzyzewski is one of the best recruiters in college hoops, but he has some holes to fill. Seniors Amile Jefferson (+10.2 BPM) and Matt Jones (+7.7 BPM) are out of the picture, and four underclassmen have declared for the NBA Draft: Jayson Tatum (+7.5 BPM), Luke Kennard (+9.5 BPM), Frank Jackson (+5.3 BPM) and Harry Giles (+6.3 BPM). That’s a whole lot of plus-BPM to replace.
Then the Blue Devils caught a break. Junior guard and executive trip-meister Grayson Allen (+7.0 BPM) decided to return for one more year. Freshman center Marques Bolden (–0.1 BPM) is sticking around, too. They’ll be joined by two five-star recruits: Guard Gary Trent and center Wendell Carter. Four-star guard Alex O’Connell has also committed to Duke.
There could be others on the way. Guard Trevon Duval, center Mohamed Bamba, and swingman Kevin Knox have all received offer sheets from Duke, as well as other top programs, and all three remain undecided at press time. These are tremendous prospects who could very well push their team to the championship – but which team? No wonder these college basketball odds are all over the place. If you’re not going for deep value with a team like the Florida Gators (now +2500 at Bovada), better hold off on Duke until more news comes in on these blue-chippers.