College Basketball’s Favorites entering 2017

Just when you think you’ve got college basketball all sorted out – who’s hot; who’s not; who’s going to the Final Four – the return of conference play throws a wrench in that plan. As we saw on Wednesday with Oregon’s clutch win over UCLA, playing a hated rival on the road offers a tougher challenge than any showcase in Las Vegas or Hawaii ever will.

So while the undefeated record of a Baylor or a USC looks impressive now, we’ll get to see the real mettle of these teams now that Big 12 and Pac-12 play has begun. Can Baylor take it to a title-favorite like Kansas? The Jayhawks have won 11 straight (including knocking off Duke) since a season-opening loss to Indiana in OT. As for USC, they’ll face tough challenges from Oregon and UCLA as early as this weekend.

But the conference that demands the most attention right now is the Big East. Once a dominant force in college, the Big East is in the midst of a renaissance, with no. 1 ranked Villanova clashing with undefeated no. 10 Creighton this weekend for early-season supremacy. There’s an expectation that Jay Wright’s team can’t pull off the near-impossible and repeat as champions, but the Wildcats will have an opportunity to silence the doubters with a few big road wins.

More teams will come forward in the “who is legit?” debate as conference play wears on, but for now, we know that the usual suspects like Kansas and Duke are definitely among them. The Blue Devils are so legit, in fact, they’re using star Grayson Allen’s latest tripping incident as a teaching moment: teaching him that he can’t act like a jerk all the time, while simultaneously teaching the rest of the NCAA that they’re as deep as the Marianas Trench.

As the college basketball season enters the new year, here’s how the odds currently stack up.

NCAA Basketball Odds

Odds to win the 2017 NCAA Tournament

  • Duke: 5/1
  • UCLA: 6/1
  • Kentucky: 7/1
  • Villanova: 9/1
  • Kansas: 10/1
  • UNC: 11/1
  • Indiana: 20/1
  • Gonzaga: 25/1
  • Oregon: 25/1
  • Baylor: 30/1
  • Louisville: 30/1
  • Virginia: 30/1
  • West Virginia: 35/1
  • Wisconsin: 35/1
  • Creighton: 40/1
  • Arizona: 50/1
  • Xavier: 60/1
  • Purdue: 60/1
  • Michigan State: 60/1
  • USC: 100/1

Beyond being well coached and great at recruiting, the top five teams are all led by guys making a strong push for Player of the Year: Duke’s Luke Kennard, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, the Jayhawks’ Frank Mason, and Villanova’s Josh Hart. It goes to show that, while basketball is a team sport, having a guy that can take over a game gives bettors a lot more confidence.

Odds any team finishes the season undefeated: 40/1

The likeliest team to run the table is Gonzaga, who don’t face many challenges in the West Coast Conference. Even then, a team like St. Mary’s or BYU could easily trip them up, or they could simply buckle under the pressure of going undefeated.

Odds for which conference gets the most tournament bids

  • ACC: 1/5
  • Big Ten: 9/2
  • Big 12: 100/1
  • Pac-12: 200/1
  • SEC: 400/1

The Big Ten underwhelmed to begin the year, with Michigan State having a particularly awful start. But while Sparty should recover in time to make the tourney (it wouldn’t be March Madness without Tom Izzo), teams like Minnesota and Northwestern should regress, in turn. Ultimately, the ACC is the most stacked conference and should get treated as so.

Photo Credit: Neon Tommy (Flickr)[]


An avid NHL fan of over 20 years, Malloy made his first bet against a friend during the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals (going against Ray Bourque) and has been hooked ever since. He has yet to pay off that debt of $2, but he's made plenty back since. In between worrying about the league's next lockout, he regularly contributes to MTS and is also fluent in football, basketball, baseball and French (sort of).

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