The 2015-16 college basketball season surely did not disappoint, with plenty of storylines ultimately culminating with a national championship to somewhat of a Cinderella story team. Early season odds to win the national championship favor the more storied programs; however there are a small few that have an outside shot of staking a claim to the crown. Here are a few of the highlights of the current odds to win the 2017 NCAA tournament:
Duke Blue Devils
Current odds: 7-2
The Duke Blue Devils opened as the preseason favorite to claim the crown in the tournament this year, and their early season results has proved their promise coming out of the ACC. Coach Mike Krzyzewski will rely on perennial guard Grayson Allen to foster the second best recruiting class in the nation into a potential championship caliber team. Perhaps our best measuring stick of just how good this Duke team is will come when they hit the road to face North Carolina in their annual rivalry.
Current odds: 8-1
There hasn’t been much to harp on with the Kentucky Wildcats in the early going, but that has become a common theme with John Calipari’s teams during his tenure. As the season goes on all of his young talent will develop at their own rate. Ultimately, it’s a matter of how fast that Calipari can have the Wildcats functioning as an elite team despite their incredible youth. To make matters even worse, this comes after losing both Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis from last year, as well as a veteran in Marcus Lee. Look for rebounding and defense to be key to the Wildcats success once again.
North Carolina Tar Heels
Current odds: 15-1
Roy Williams’ club pretty much started as an outside shot to return to the national championship this year; however they have convinced many of their potential by their early results. The Tar Heels are returning some incredible talent in Kennedy Meeks and Isiah Hicks from a team that fell just short of raising the trophy at the Final Four last season. The combination of a solid recruiting class and returning veteran talent could prove to be the difference maker come the tournament.
Current odds: 25-1
Although the departure of Yogi Ferrell will definitely hurt Tom Crean and his team this season, the Hoosiers are still stacked with talent and look destined to return to a minimum of a Sweet 16 appearance again this season. The Hoosiers continue to be one the more explosive offensive clubs in the country, and that allows them to hang around in any game. The difference maker for Crean and his team this season will be whether or not they can defend and rebound well enough to compete with some of the larger teams such as Kentucky and Kansas.
Michigan State Spartans
Current odds: 18-1
Despite an abundance of questions after their first handful of games in the season, the Michigan State Spartans simply cannot be counted out just yet. In reality, the Spartans shot themselves in the foot by crisscrossing the nation over the past two weeks playing some top competition, and their record may show their fatigue. However once Tom Izzo is able to get into Big 10 play, the Spartans will surely be looking like a championship contender again. Freshman guard Miles Bridges will look to lead the way with his incredible versatility.