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Louisville Taking Early Money from Bettors; Cardinals Enter Top-10 March Madness Favorites, Bumping Out Gonzaga

Louisville Cardinals mascot on the court
Will the Louisville Cardinals be the top team in the ACC this season? Photo by Kevin Coles (Flickr) [CC License].
  • Louisville’s 2020 National Championship odds have jumped from +8000 to +1600 over the offseason
  • Star Jordan Nwora declared for the NBA Draft but late withdraw to return for his junior season
  • Chris Mack recruited well and might have the top team in the ACC

The Louisville Cardinals entered the offseason at about +8000 in terms of their 2020 March Madness title odds. However, when you look up now, the Cardinals are in the range of +1600 across the board.

Does this team have a legit chance to win it all and is there still value betting on Chris Mack’s squad at this point?

Odds To Win 2020 NCAA Tournament

Team 2020 March Madness Championship Odds at BetOnline*
Michigan State +700
Kentucky Wildcats +800
Duke Blue Devils +900
Kansas Jayhawks +1000
Memphis Tigers +1000
Virginia Cavaliers +1100
North Carolina Tar Heels +1400
Louisville Cardinals +1600
Maryland Terrapins +1600
Florida Gators +1800
Gonzaga Bulldogs +2000

*Odds collected Aug. 9, 2019.

Cardinals Did Well In Mack’s First Season

The Cardinals had a really positive campaign last year as they went 20-14 and returned to the NCAA Tournament. Along the way, they had signature wins against No. 12 North Carolina, No. 21 NC State, No. 11 Virginia Tech, and No. 16 Clemson. They also spent a good month ranked in the Top 25.

When you consider that this team was NIT-quality under David Padgett in the 2017-18 season, this was a really positive step in Mack’s first season.

Remember, they were a perennial NCAA Tournament participant from 2007 to 2017 under Rick Pitino and were often a national championship contender. Going to the NIT doesn’t cut it in Louisville.

Cardinals Recruited Well, Nwora Returns

Mack and his assistants did a great job on the recruiting trail as they had the No. 11 composite recruiting class, according to 247Sports. Samuell Williamson is a five-star recruit and a former McDonald’s All-American. David Johnson could also have an immediate impact.

One pickup that was also quite important came via the grad transfer market as Louisville landed Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble, who comes over from Saint Joseph’s.

There were some concerns about who would run the point for this team and Kimble solves that problem. He averaged 15.6 points along with 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the Hawks last season.

One of the biggest reasons why the odds have moved so significantly is because star Jordan Nwora returned, as did Steven Enoch. Both declared for the NBA Draft but later withdrew their names.

Nwora is one of the top players in the country and the likely preseason ACC Player of the Year. He averaged 17.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 1.3 APG as a sophomore.

If both had departed, the Cardinals would have lost three of their four leading scores (along with senior Christen Cunningham) and life would have been very difficult.

But with Nwora and Enoch (9.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG) back, and lots of reinforcements on the way, this team will be tough to beat.

There’s Value With The Cardinals

While the Cardinals are +1600 at most online sportsbooks, they are still +2500 at MyBookie, and I see value at that number.

In my estimation, they’re the best team in the ACC, slightly ahead of Duke and North Carolina. However, when you look at their odds to win it all, they are behind both.

Duke is at +900 at BetOnline and MyBookie, while North Carolina is at +1400 at the former and +1500 at the latter.

I’ll take a flier on the Cardinals at +2500 as they have a very strong team heading into the 2019 campaign.

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