Duke Enters 2019 March Madness Tournament as Heavy Favorite

RJ Barrett & Zion Williamson_-_Keenan_Hairston
Led by Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, the Duke Blue Devils are the No. 1-overall seed in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Photo By Keenan Hairston (Wikimedia Commons) [CC License].
  • Duke is the overwhelming favorite to win the 2019 NCAA tournament
  • Blue Devils looking to become just the fourth no. 1-overall seed to win
  • Is there any other bet besides Duke worth making?

The Madness is upon us, and the bullseye is squarely on the Duke Blue Devils.

Selection Sunday bestowed the no. 1-overall seed on the Blue Devils, while two other ACC foes – North Carolina and Virginia – picked up top seeds in the 64-team field.

Gonzaga was the lone non-ACC team to garner top billing for a region.

2019 NCAAM Tournament Favorites

Team March Madness Seed Odds to win 2019 March Madness
Duke 1 +200
Gonzaga 1 +550
North Carolina 1 +600
Virginia 1 +750
Kentucky 2 +1000
Michigan State 2 +1400
Tennessee 2 +1600
Michigan 2 +1600
Texas Tech 3 +2000
Auburn 5 +3300
Florida State 4 +3300

*Odds from March 17, 2019

With Zion Williamson back in Duke’s lineup, the NCAA tournament is back to Duke vs the field.

They’re currently at +200 to take it all, after seeing their odds to win the NCAA Men’s Tournament at +230 as recently as March 8, the longest odds they had been since back in November. Losing the best prospect in college hoops can do that to you.

Let’s see just how sure a bet this can be.

Zion Makes Duke Whole

In late February, we came yay-close to watching Williamson’s college career end in “explosive” fashion. Fortunately, the explosion was just the Nike on his foot, and not the ligament in his knee.

After missing five games, the overwhelming consensus No. 1 pick in the NBA draft showed just why he is so highly touted, with three dominating efforts in three consecutive nights to win the ACC Tournament.

Zion’s been in the lineup for 17 games where he’s played 30 minutes or more, and Duke has lost just twice in those instances. Put him into the mix with lottery-picks-in-waiting RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish, and this team is a load.

Duke hasn’t had a light schedule, either. They’ve already hung L’s on some of the best teams in the nation, including Virginia twice and North Carolina once. While they also lost twice to the Tar Heels, Zion missed 99% of those two games.

A solid and scary Florida State team suffered two of its own losses to the Blue Devils, and non-ACC foes have also felt the sting: Duke has wins over Kentucky, Auburn, Louisville, and Texas Tech.

Those teams are all seven seeds or better in the upcoming tourney.

What Could Stop Duke?

If you’re looking for teams that have beaten Duke, the first will come in the form of Virginia Tech in the Sweet 16. This was a Zion-free game, so don’t put too much stock in that outcome.

Michigan State, winner of the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament, was on the cusp of a top seed, and could pose some resistance in the battle of basketball royalty in the Elite Eight.

Gonzaga, which was able to beat Duke early in the season, awaits them in the Final Four if all goes to plan.

Those are two stiff tests Duke may have to pass.

What’s the Best Bet to Make Here?

As easy as Duke makes it to be all-in, remember that since a top overall seed was announced in 2004, only three teams have gone on to win the national title, most recently Louisville in 2013.

The closest comparison to how highly they’ve been touted are the 2014-15 Kentucky Wildcats, who entered the tournament undefeated and were then upset in the Final Four by an experienced Wisconsin Badgers squad.

Zion is that good, but the tournament is even more volatile. Even if you do bet Duke, don’t put your entire March Madness bankroll on it. Find some side action you really like and take a dip there too.

There’s a reason it’s called the madness. Bet accordingly.


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