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Michigan State’s NCAA Title Odds Fall to +700 After Loss to Kentucky; Wildcats at +900

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Basketball

Updated Apr 21, 2020 · 11:40 AM PDT

Michigan State Spartans guard Cassius Winston
Cassius Winston's MSU Spartans were ranked #1 and topped the 2020 National Championship odds, but lost their season-opener to #2 Kentucky. Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire.
  • The No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats beat the No. 1 Michigan State Spartans 69-62 in the Champions Classic
  • Freshman guard Tyrese Maxey scored a game-high 26 points off the bench
  • Michigan State is still the betting favorite to win the NCAA title at +700, while Kentucky is the second-favorite at +900

The No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats beat the No. 1 Michigan State Spartans, 69-62, on Tuesday night in the nightcap of the 2019 Champions Classic. John Calipari can thank a game-high 26 points off the bench from freshman guard Tyrese Maxey for the W, including a game-sealing three-pointer with just over a minute to play.

Michigan State entered Tuesday as the favorite in the odds to win the NCAA title, with sportsbooks listing Sparty at +600 . They are still favored on Wednesday morning, but have dropped to +700.

Odds to Win the 2020 NCAAB National Championship

Team Odds
Michigan State +700
Kentucky +900
Duke +1000
Kansas +1200
Louisville +1400
Memphis +1400
Florida +1600
North Carolina +1600
Gonzaga +2000
Villanova +2000
Virginia +2000
Texas Tech +2500
Maryland +2800
Oregon +2800
Arizona +3300

Odds taken Nov. 6.

Does One Game Matter?

You might think oddsmakers would have shuffled the top two teams on the betting board after Tuesday’s result at Madison Square Garden. But that’s simply not the case. The situation reminds me of the motivational speech given by Bill Murray’s character, Tripper, toward the end of the 1979 comedy classic Meatballs.

Evidently, the outcome just doesn’t matter when it comes to the bigger picture. Neither the Spartans nor the Wildcats shot the ball particularly well at the World’s Most Famous Arena. Michigan State converted at a 39.3 percent clip, while Kentucky shot 38.0 percent from the field. But Maxey’s night was certainly one to remember.

Unsurprisingly, books faded Michigan State from a +600 to +700 favorite with the loss. But somewhat unexpectedly, UK also fell from +800 at tip-off Tuesday to +900 after the big win.

John Calipari’s program will likely be No. 1 in the next AP Poll, but are still the bridesmaids in betting odds to win it all.

What Happened to Sparty?

While the Champions Classic was historic — it brought the top four teams in the country together in the same building for the first time ever — the games between No. 4 Duke vs No. 3 Kansas (which the Blue Devils won 68-66) and No. 2 Kentucky vs No. 1 Michigan State weren’t exactly crisp basketball.

YouTube video

As MSU head coach Tom Izzo said, “There were four good teams today. None of them were ready for February or March. It is a very difficult thing to play that kind of competition this early.” Translation: it’s early. Spartans star Cassius Winston scored a team-high 21 points in defeat, but he was the only Michigan State player in double-figures.

Bettors shouldn’t worry too much about Sparty based on one seven-point loss to a really good Kentucky squad.

What Does It All Mean?

While I strongly advise against any knee-jerk reactions (“UK All the Way!” or “Izzo’s Guys Blew It!”), I would put stock in Maxey’s performance. The five-star recruit from Texas was impressive, going 7-for-12 from the field, including three 3-pointers and the dagger trey that put the game away.

We know about the likes of Ashton Hagans, but Maxey’s debut bodes well for Big Blue. If he can be a consistent isolation scoring threat late in possessions, one of the few questions surrounding this UK roster has been answered.

While Michigan State may still be the favorite to win it all, it’s worth throwing a wager — especially considering the odds increased a bit — on Kentucky to take the NCAA trophy back to Lexington in April.

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