2017-18 College Basketball: Complete Odds & Season Preview

Michigan State guard Miles Bridges
Michigan State guard Miles Bridges (Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire)

Put the recruiting scandal covertly into your back pocket in the rear-view mirror because it’s time to focus on actual basketball.

With the FBI’s ongoing investigation casting a pall over the proceedings and big-names like Rick Pitino already lying on the scrap heap, the 2017-18 college basketball season figures to be a little different as several teams — like Louisville and Arizona — will be wondering whether any banners they win will be taken down in the years to come.  But for casual fans and the wilfully blind, it will appear to be business as usual as the best “amateur” players in the country vie for national supremacy.

Just like last year, this season will bring a tantalizing group of one-and-done freshman to the forefront. In just the first weekend of action, Marvin Bagley (Duke), Deandre Ayton (Arizona), and Jaren Jackson (Michigan State) solidified their draft stock with performances ranging from solid to sublime. Not to be outdone, super-sophomores Miles Bridges (Michigan State) and Allonzo Trier (Arizona) put their own early stamp on the Player of the Year race, along with seniors Devonte Graham (Kansas)

Who’s going to earn that coveted award? Which teams will survive until San Antonio (site of this year’s Final Four)? And who will ultimately cut down the nets at the Alamodome? Get the odds on all that, below, plus potential coaching changes, every conference championship, and our conference Player of the Year picks.


2018 National Championship Odds

  • Michigan State: 7/1
  • Duke: 15/2
  • Arizona: 10/1
  • Kansas: 15/1
  • Villanova: 15/1
  • Wichita State: 18/1
  • North Carolina: 20/1
  • Kentucky: 22/1
  • USC: 25/1
  • Louisville: 28/1
  • Cincinnati: 30/1
  • Miami: 35/1
  • Gonzaga: 40/1
  • St. Mary’s: 45/1
  • West Virginia: 45/1
  • Florida: 47/1
  • Oregon: 50/1
  • Missouri: 80/1
  • FIELD: 8/1

 

Duke, MSU, and Arizona stand above the field this year. Duke has the best incoming freshman class, including top-ranked recruit Marvin Bagley Jr. (who’s looked phenomenal in his first two games). Michigan State has the best crop of returnees, headed by Player of the Year favorite Miles Bridges. Arizona is a mix, with Allonzo Trier, Dusan Ristic, and Parker Jackson-Cartwright coming back, and future one-and-done center Deandre Ayton joining the fray.

You can make a solid argument for any of the three to be the favorite. We’re siding with MSU because (a) experience matters in March, and they have more than Duke, and (b) coaching also matters in March, and Tom Izzo trumps Sean Miller. Arizona could also face eligibility issues from the recruiting scandal, which bumps them down a bit.

You’ll notice a big difference between our odds for Missouri (80/1) and the odds in Vegas (16/1). Sportsbooks are smart. They know bettors will chase big names, like Michael Porter Jr who, as you’ll see below, has a solid chance to be the no. 1-overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He has huge upside and Mizzou, as a whole, brought in a great freshman class, but 16/1 was insane even before Porter exited the Tigers’ first game of the year with a hip injury. Missouri won eight games last year.  Eight! And I don’t mean in SEC play. They only won two of those.

Odds of reaching the Final Four

  • Michigan State: 3/2
  • Duke: 3/2
  • Arizona: 9/5
  • Kansas: 4/1
  • Villanova: 9/2
  • Wichita State: 11/2
  • North Carolina: 6/1
  • Kentucky: 13/2
  • USC: 7/1
  • Louisville: 8/1
  • Cincinnati: 17/2
  • Miami: 9/1
  • West Virginia: 10/1
  • Gonzaga: 11/1
  • St. Mary’s: 12/1
  • Oregon: 14/1
  • Missouri: 22/1

Odds the National Champion comes from the …

  • ACC: 3/1
  • Big Ten: 9/2
  • Pac-12: 21/4
  • SEC: 22/3
  • Big 12: 23/3
  • Big East: 10/1
  • FIELD: 10/1

 

The ACC doesn’t just have Duke as a serious title contender. Miami, Louisville, and Notre Dame all have national championship aspirations, not to mention reigning champ UNC, a team which admittedly loses a ton, but also returns point guard Joel Berry at the most important position on the floor.

Most people will be surprised to see the Pac-12 ahead of the SEC, Big 12, and Big East, but they have a legit title threat in Arizona and a sneaky darkhorse in USC. Conference depth doesn’t really help in these odds, because there’s just no way a mid-pack SEC team like Vanderbilt is winning it all, even though they’re a cut above the Pac-12’s second tier.

Odds the top-four AP pre-season teams (Duke, MSU, Arizona, Kansas) all make the Final Four: 655/1

Even if you assume that all four teams will be in different regions, you’re still looking at about a 1% chance of all four reaching San Antonio. And one thing I can almost guarantee is that these four teams will not be the top four seeds entering March Madness, so the chances that they’ll be in four different regions are low (10-15%).

Over/Under March Madness berths per conference

  • ACC: 8.5
  • Big Ten: 6.5
  • Big 12: 6.5
  • Big East: 5.5
  • SEC: 5.5
  • Pac-12: 4.5

 

This is where conference depth comes into play, and that’s why the Pac-12 is at the bottom. After Arizona, USC, Oregon, and UCLA, it gets pretty bleak. If the “conference of champions” gets one other team in the tourney, that will be a win.

The SEC is up this year after getting just three bids last season. Kentucky, A&M, and Florida are locks. At least two of Alabama, Missouri, and Vanderbilt should get it, if not all three.

 

Naismith Player of the Year Odds

  • Miles Bridges (MSU): 9/1
  • Marvin Bagley (Duke): 11/1
  • Allonzo Trier (Arizona): 11/1
  • Jalen Brunson (Villanova): 15/1
  • Devonte Graham (Kansas): 15/1
  • Grayson Allen (Duke): 16/1
  • Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame): 18/1
  • Michael Porter Jr (Missouri): 25/1
  • FIELD: 6/5

 

Look at recent history to see why the best player from the (expected) best teams are at the top. With the exception of Doug McDermott (2013-14), all six of the most recent Naismith winners played for teams that entered March Madness ranked in the top ten. (McDermott’s Creighton Blue Jays were ranked no. 16.)

As we’ve already discussed, Missouri is not a top-ten team. They’re not even a pre-season top-25 team. So sorry MPJ: your Tigers will be better than Ben Simmons’ LSU squad and Markelle Fultz’ nine-win Washington Huskies, but title contenders you are not.

Does 6/5 feel too short for the field? Don’t forget who’s not on the list above: Jock Landale (St. Mary’s), Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Deandre Ayton (Arizona), Angel Delgado (Seton Hall), and anyone from Kentucky.

 

Odds to be the number one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft

Michael Porter Jr driving during the 2017 McDonald’s All-American Game (Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)
  • Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri): 5/2
  • Luka Doncic (Real Madrid): 7/2
  • Marvin Bagley (Duke): 4/1
  • DeAndre Ayton (Arizona): 8/1
  • Mohamed Bamba (Texas): 15/1
  • FIELD: 7/1

 

Michael Porter Jr. could soon be joining Kristaps Porzingis and Giannis Antetokounmpo as the NBA’s next unicorn. The 6’10” freshman is a knockdown shooter and pinpoint passer with the length, athleticism, and skill to give opposing defenses fits.

Porter Jr. will really have to impress to keep Luka Doncic at bay, however. The 6’7” swingman is averaging 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists for EuroLeague powerhouse Real Madrid, and recently scored 28 points in a huge victory over Zalgiris Kaunas. The 18-year-old Slovenian may not have the name recognition of some of the other players in his draft class, but Doncic’s ability to post big numbers against grown men can’t be overlooked.

Marvin Bagley has been terrific out of the gate for Duke, going for 20-plus in his first two games with the Blue Devils. He’s showing why he immediately shot to the top of the 2017 recruiting rankings when he re-declared.

Odds coaches return to current schools in 2018-19

  • John Calipari (Kentucky): 1/99
  • Jim Boeheim (Syracuse): 1/19
  • Patrick Ewing (Georgetown): 1/6
  • Steve Alford (UCLA): 1/5
  • Chris Mullin (St John’s): 1/5
  • Kevin Ollie (Connecticut): 1/5
  • Mark Fox (Georgia): 2/5
  • Jim Christian (Boston College): 1/2
  • Jeff Lebo (East Carolina): 1/2
  • Dave Leitao (DePaul): 3/5
  • Pat Chambers (Penn State): 5/6
  • Tim Miles (Nebraska): 1/1
  • Brad Brownell (Clemson): 6/5
  • Kevin Stallings (Pitt): 8/5

New Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing
New Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing (left) with Drew Gooden (right) during his time with the Charlotte Hornets (Keith Allison (flickr) [CC License])
Apologies to every non-Kentucky team in America; John Calipari isn’t going anywhere. Neither is Jim Boeheim, who reneged on his 2018 retirement declaration last year by signing a new extension, a move which motivated longtime assistant and heir-apparent Mike Hopkins to take the Washington job.

The majority of the names near the bottom of the list need their teams to improve to have any semblance of job security. That’s why Chambers is ahead of Miles, as his Nittanies are shaping up better than the Huskers in the Big Ten. The bottom of the mighty ACC is earmarked for Pitt, which finished 13th (out of 15) in Stallings’ first season. Don’t count on the coach getting a third season on the Panther bench.


ACC title odds (regular season)

  • Duke: 9/5
  • UNC: 6/1
  • Louisville: 7/1
  • Miami: 10/1
  • Notre Dame: 11/1
  • Virginia: 12/1
  • Virginia Tech: 25/1
  • Florida State: 49/1
  • Georgia Tech: 49/1
  • Wake Forest: 49/1
  • Syracuse: 80/1
  • Boston College: 150/1
  • NC State: 500/1
  • Clemson: 500/1
  • Pittsburgh: 1000/1

 

The ACC has four pretty distinct tiers. Tier 1 is Duke, all by its lonesome. Tier 2 includes UNC, Louisville, Miami, Notre Dame, and Virginia, all of whom could reasonably knock off the Blue Devils. Tier 3 stretches from Va. Tech to Wake Forest, and Tier 4 is the rest. Actually, maybe there should be a one-team Tier 5 that’s just Pitt. No Pittsburgh, you can’t have Jamie Dixon back. It doesn’t work that way.

ACC Player of the Year favorite: Marvin Bagley (Duke): 9/1

Honorable mentions:

  • Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame): 9/1
  • Bruce Brown (Miami): 10/1
  • Joel Berry (UNC): 12/1
  • Grayson Allen (Duke): 13/1
  • Quentin Snider (Louisville): 16/1

Big East title odds (regular season)

Big East Player of the Year favorite Jalen Brunson
Big East Player of the Year favorite Jalen Brunson (TonyTheTiger (Wikipedia) [CC License])
  • Villanova: 3/2
  • Seton Hall: 6/1
  • Xavier: 6/1
  • Providence: 22/3
  • Butler: 9/1
  • Creighton: 19/1
  • Marquette: 39/1
  • St. John’s: 45/1
  • DePaul: 400/1
  • Georgetown: 500/1

 

If Villanova doesn’t win, it will mean Angel Delgado literally grabbed every rebound in the Big East, or JP Macura’s spandex pajamas have supernatural powers. But seriously, between Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Phil Booth, Donte DiVincenzo, and the return of Omari Spellman, Nova is balanced, experienced, and primed for another run at the national title.

Big East Player of the Year favorite: Jalen Brunson (Villanova): 3/1

Honorable mentions:

  • Angel Delgado (Seton Hall): 4/1
  • Trevon Bluiett (Xavier): 5/1
  • Kelan Martin (Butler): 16/1
  • Marcus Foster (Creighton): 18/1

Big Ten title odds (regular season)

  • Michigan State: 3/2
  • Purdue: 9/2
  • Minnesota: 9/1
  • Northwestern: 18/1
  • Michigan: 18/1
  • Wisconsin: 22/1
  • Maryland: 22/1
  • Iowa: 25/1
  • Penn State: 33/1
  • Illinois: 40/1
  • Indiana: 40/1
  • Ohio State: 90/1
  • Nebraska: 199/1
  • Rutgers: 299/1

 

 

Bryant McIntosh hopes to lead Northwestern to its second March Madness berth in as many years (TonyTheTiger (Wikipedia) [CC License])

Purdue is the only team that, on paper, could challenge Michigan State, as good as Nate Mason has been for the Gophers, and as much as we believe Northwestern will get back to the dance. We’re higher on Illinois than most pundits because Brad Underwood could average 70 points per game with four blind mole rats and a platypus as his starting five.

Big Ten Player of the Year favorite: Miles Bridges (MSU): 1/1

Honorable mentions:

  • Ethan Happ (Wisconsin): 8/1
  • Nate Mason (Minnesota): 14/1
  • Mo Wagner (Michigan): 15/1
  • Bryant McIntosh (Northwestern): 19/1

Big 12 title odds (regular season)

  • Kansas: 2/1
  • West Virginia: 4/1
  • TCU: 7/1
  • Baylor: 9/1
  • Texas: 14/1
  • Oklahoma: 24/1
  • Texas Tech: 30/1
  • Iowa State: 35/1
  • Kansas State: 99/1
  • Oklahoma State: 150/1

 

Have you heard that Kansas has won 13 straight Big 12 titles? No? In that case, welcome back from your coma. Donald Trump is President. While this Kansas team has holes — particularly in the front court — Bill Self timed it perfectly; no team in the conference has the roster to capitalize, save maybe for Shaka Smart’s Longhorns, but that would require a huge freshman-led turnaround compared to last year.

Big 12 Player of the Year favorite: Devonte Graham (Kansas): 6/1

Honorable mentions:

  • Jevon Carter (West Virginia): 9/1
  • Mohamed Bamba (Texas): 10/1
  • Jeffrey Carroll (OK State): 12/1
  • Manu Lecomte (Baylor): 19/1

Pac-12 title odds (regular season)

  • Arizona: 4/5
  • USC: 9/2
  • Oregon: 8/1
  • UCLA: 11/1
  • Stanford: 35/1
  • Utah: 45/1
  • Arizona State: 90/1
  • Oregon State: 100/1
  • Colorado: 110/1
  • California: 150/1
  • Washington: 250/1
  • Washington State: 1000/1

 

Unless Arizona’s roster gets trimmed by injuries or recruiting violations, the Wildcats should earn their second Pac-12 regular season title in as many years behind a leaner, meaner Allonzo Trier.

Pac-12 Player of the Year favorite: Allonzo Trier (Arizona): 3/1

Honorable mentions: 

  • Aaron Holiday (UCLA): 12/1
  • Chimezie Metu (USC): 13/1
  • Reid Travis (Stanford): 13/1
  • Deandre Ayton (Arizona): 15/1
  • Bennie Boatwright (USC): 16/1

SEC title odds (regular season)

  • Kentucky: 8/3
  • Florida: 10/3
  • Texas A&M: 7/1
  • Alabama: 13/1
  • Missouri: 16/1
  • Vanderbilt: 19/1
  • Arkansas: 20/1
  • Ole Miss: 20/1
  • Georgia: 40/1
  • Tennessee: 40/1
  • South Carolina: 75/1
  • Auburn: 75/1
  • Mississippi State: 99/1
  • LSU: 500/1

 

This figures to be the closest title race in the Power 6. Kentucky is stacked with freshman, but it’s a weird mix full of redundancies, and they don’t have a legit shooter like the departed Malik Monk. While Florida lost a ton, the Gators still have KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza. Texas A&M, though lacking in starpower, is full of experience and just ran over West Virginia in their opener (88-65).

SEC Player of the Year favorite: Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky): 9/1

Honorable mentions:

  • KeVaughn Allen (Florida): 10/1
  • Yante Maten (Georgia): 10/1
  • Michael Porter Jr (Missouri): 10/1
  • Collin Sexton (Alabama): 15/1
  • Deandre Burnett (Ole Miss): 15/1