Back in November, Bubs set the preseason March Madness odds, establishing Kentucky and Duke as the favorites. A few weeks ago, I updated those odds. Kentucky and Duke were still at the top, but Michigan State had narrowed the gap. Now, heading into Christmas, that gap has officially closed (as much as anything I do can be called “official”) and we have a new favorite.
The Spartans (12-0) have kept right on rolling, while Kentucky suffered another setback to Ohio State (74-67) and the Blue Devils lost at Cameron to Utah (77-75 in OT).
MSU isn’t the only team to move up, of course. Down in Norman, Buddy Hield has kept the Sooners (8-0) streaking, as well. Their absolute annihilation of then-no. 9 Villanova (78-55) in Hawaii was one of the more impressive wins in the nation this year.
North Carolina (10-2) lost its second game of the year at Texas (84-82), but also scored a nice win at UCLA (89-76) and effectively maintain their prognosis. The Jayhawks (9-1) stay put as well after surviving a scare from Harvard.
The Boilermakers (11-1) were set to make a big leap until they fell at home to Butler (74-68) on Saturday. They’ve already shown a lot this year, though, and move up slightly.
Northern Iowa doesn’t feature on our list (shocking, I know), but the Panthers – who previously knocked off then-no. 1 UNC – took down another top dog recently, handing Iowa State its first loss of the season (81-79). That home loss sends the Cyclones down the odds a bit, but not nearly as far as Gonzaga, who drop out of the top-12 after home setbacks to both Arizona (68-63) and UCLA (71-66). The Zags were playing without dominant seven-footer Przemek Karnowski, but their guard play just doesn’t look strong enough to compete with the major conference powers this year.
Villanova is the other team to fall out of the top-12. They’ve lost two of their last four games. The losses came against really solid squads (Oklahoma and Virginia), but they’re still Ls.
Joining the ranks this time around are Arizona (11-1) and Xavier (11-0). Not many people are talking about the Musketeers as legit title contenders (they haven’t played any other top schools, nor a single road game), but easy wins over Michigan (86-70), Dayton (91-60), and Cincinnati (75-65) are enough for me to take them seriously.
Below, you can find the updated odds for the current top-12, followed by the previous edition.
Current 2016 March Madness Odds (Dec. 22, 2015):
Michigan State: 10/1
North Carolina: 12/1
Iowa State: 20/1
Previous 2016 March Madness Odds (Dec. 4, 2015):
Michigan State: 12/1
North Carolina: 12/1
Iowa State: 15/1
(Photo credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Danals [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)