Upcoming Match-ups

Kansas Becomes Championship Favorite After Blowout of Stanford; Louisville Slides Following Loss to Kentucky

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Basketball

Jan 1, 2020 · 4:59 PM PST

Kansas Jayhawks
The Kansas Jayhawks are the new favorites to win the NCAA Tournament. Photo by Phil Roeder (Flickr).
  • Kansas is the new favorite to win the NCAA Tournement at +800 after blowing out Stanford on the road
  • Louisville’s odds dropped to +1200 following a loss at Kentucky
  • Duke, Gonzaga and Ohio State are sitting between the Jayhawks and Cardinals as favorites to cut down the nets in Atlanta

The Kansas Jayhawks are now sitting in the catbird’s seat when it comes to betting odds for winning the 2020 NCAA Tournament following KU’s 72-56 win over Stanford in Palo Alto Saturday. Meanwhile, the Louisville Cardinals saw their odds drop to +1200 following a 78-70 loss to Kentucky in the annual Bluegrass State rivalry. Duke, Gonzaga and Ohio State are squads between KU and UL.

2020 NCAA Tournament Odds

Team Odds
Kansas +800
Duke +1000
Gonzaga +1000
Ohio State +1000
Kentucky +1200
Louisville +1200
Michigan State +1200
Maryland +1600
Michigan +1600
Oregon +1600

Odds taken Dec. 30.

One of the things that makes these odds interesting is that Louisville is the average betting favorite at +900 and Kansas’ average odds sit at +1200, with the same three teams sitting between them in our 2020 NCAA Tournament Championship odds.

Those odds are an aggregate taken from various betting sites. So should KU’s 16-point victory on The Farm make them the clear cut favorite? Should UL’s loss at Rupp drop the Cardinals, and conversely, should UK’s win move them up the board? What about the Buckeyes, who suffered a 67-59 loss to West Virginia Sunday in Cleveland? We analyze all the teams’ respective chances for winning it all and offer some advice.

Should Kansas Be the Favorite?

On one hand, the Jayhawks’ victory over the Cardinal was certainly impressive. KU became the first team to score 70-plus points against a Stanford team that is trying to build its identity around defense.

On the other hand, Stanford is just 1-18 against top-25 opponents under head coach and former Kansas star Jerod Haase. Stanford’s effort Sunday, or lack thereof, in a game that was suited for them to pull out a close one shows the program isn’t quite ready to take the next step. So, really, was KU’s win enough to make them the favorite? I would say no. However, there’s also a school of thought that says Bill Self’s club was already the best team in the country and the win in the Bay Area was just them holding serve.

This team is still loaded with talent, with players like Udoka Azubuike, Ochai Aghaji and Devon Dotson carrying the load. But the Jayhawks will likely trip up at least a couple times in Big 12 play (they open the conference slate Saturday with those same Mountaineers that just beat Ohio State), and the +800 number will probably fall. Fade KU for now.

Common Wealth

As for the two powerhouses in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Saturday’s game in Lexington showed a couple things.

First, if Louisville can make free throws, they are dangerous. The Cardinals were a woeful 9-of-20 from the charity stripe against UK. Make a few more foul shots and a 78-70 loss in overtime possibly becomes a different story. Plus, they overcame 12 and six point deficits at different points in the second half to force the extra period, where Kentucky took control. Obviously, the ACC is loaded. But Chris Mack’s team is still one of the best units in the country. I’m buying UL at +1200.

The other big takeaway from Saturday’s game is that Coach Cal’s guys are legit. Tyrese Maxey scored a game-high 27 points (bettering his effort against preseason No. 1 Michigan State by one in a season-opening victory over the Spartans) and Nick Richards was clutch. The junior forward proved to be a force on both ends of the floor against UL and helped put the game away in OT, by scoring seven in a row. The SEC is down a bit this season and UK’s win over UL could be a big momentum boost heading into conference play. I’m also buying the Wildcats at +1200.

Bucking the Trend

Ohio State already owns wins this season over Villanova and Kentucky. Yes, OSU has also lost to Minnesota and that tough defeat to West Virginia at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

Chris Holtmann’s team is still a statistical darling. The Buckeyes are No. 10 in offense adjusted efficiency and No. 4 in defense adjusted efficiency according to KenPom.com. That makes the Bucks the only team other than Duke to be ranked in the top-10 in both categories. And I don’t put too much stock in a loss to a Bob Huggins coached team that has historically gotten up for highly ranked teams (this was win No. 19 over a top-10 opponent since Huggie Bear took over the reins in Morgantown).

But should Ohio State be +1000? I’m fading that number due to similar logic used with Kansas. The Big Ten is very deep this season. I think that number drops with a handful of conference losses. But watch out for this team come tournament time.

Author Image