NCAA Basketball Odds: Early Betting Favorites For 2017 National Title

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 3:59 PM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2016 3:59 PM UTC

They are still celebrating in Philadelphia over Villanova's epic national title game win over North Carolina in Houston on Monday night. Let's do a recap of the NCAA Basketball odds. 

Recapping Last April's Odds
First off, let's look at how Bovada did immediately following last year's championship game. The site had North Carolina as the +600 favorite on NCAA basketball odds last April followed by Kentucky at +800 and Duke, which won last year's title over Wisconsin, at +1600. Villanova was a bit of a long shot at +2500.

You know what happened to UNC on Monday -- a Kris Jenkins 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Villanova its first national title since the 1985 massive upset over Georgetown. I know several NCAA bracket winners who took home the money despite not picking Villanova to win it all. Few did if you go by those top national sites running bracket challenges even though the Wildcats were a No. 2 seed and spent a few weeks at No. 1 in the polls during the regular season.

Duke lost in this year's Sweet 16 to West Region No. 1 Oregon 82-68. Kentucky shared the SEC regular-season title and won the SEC Tournament but got just a No. 4 seed in the East Region for the Big Dance and lost to No. 5 Indiana 73-67 in the Sweet 16.


Important Draft Deadline Change
Before I get to Bovada's current odds to win the 2017 national championship game at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., the rules for collegiate players declaring for the NBA Draft have changed dramatically. And NCAA basketball is hugely affected by early entrants, especially those one-and-done freshmen.

Those who declared previously used to have just a few weeks after the title game to pull out of the draft. But the NCAA made a change, as pushed for by college coaches, and now players can declare for the draft, participate in pre-draft activities, talk to NBA front offices, show up to the NBA Draft Scouting Combine (May 11-15) and withdraw their name as late as May 25. There is one huge disclaimer, however: players who hire an agent can't come back. Any players who are going to declare, even if they do pull out, must do so by April 24.

For example, LSU freshman Ben Simmons, the projected No. 1 overall pick, won't be returning to Baton Rouge as he has hired an agent. So did projected No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram, a freshman from Duke. A few other guys with eligibility left who won't return: Kentucky's Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere, Kansas' Wayne Selden and Brannen Greene, and Providence's Kris Dunn. Those players who are locks to go in the lottery have no reason to return. This rule was designed more for late first-round and all potential second-round picks.

Bovada lists Duke as the +450 favorite on NCAA basketball picks Obviously the Blue Devils lose the mega-talented Ingram. But it's presumed that guard Grayson Allen, the team's leading scorer at 21.6 ppg, will be back. The Blue Devils' top big man, Amile Jefferson, played in just nine early-season games this past season as a senior. But he is applying for a medical redshirt year that many think he will get. Duke also returns rotation guys like Luke Kennard and Matt Jones. But the real reason Duke is No. 1? Perhaps the best recruiting class in school history, led by the top two prospects overall in forward Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum. The Blue Devils could still add another unsigned five-star recruit as well.

Kentucky is +600 despite losing the fabulous Murray, probably losing SEC Player of the Year and point guard Tyler Ulis (hasn't hired an agent yet) and saying goodbye to the hugely underachieving Labissiere. Some experts actually had him rated over LSU's Simmons entering last season as the nation's top recruit. And believe it or not, UK's current recruiting class is ranked ahead of Duke's at No. 1. The Cats are still in the running for two uncommitted five-star recruits too. Never bet against John Calipari in recruiting!

Villanova is +800 to repeat, which no team has done since the Florida Gators in 2007. The Wildcats for sure lose seniors Ryan Arcidiacono, the Final Four MOP who had the assist on Jenkins' winning basket against North Carolina, and Daniel Ochefu. But the other three starters are projected to return.

North Carolina is +1200 to bounce back from that devastating loss and cut down the nets next April. The Heels lose arguably their top two players in Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige. Also, consider that NCAA sanctions are likely to come down on the entire athletic program this for year of academic impropriety. Might UNC be banned from the 2017 NCAA  Tournament?

NCAAB Free Pick: Honestly, it's silly to make a choice right now. Wait until after that May 25 deadline. Don't sleep on Oregon at +2000 next season if Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey stay in school, however.

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