College basketball odds: Duke is favored to win the NCAA Tournament, but here are the best bets to consider

If you anatomize the roster of every program in college basketball, you'll find it a next-to-impossible task to pinpoint one more stacked with prospective pro talent than Duke and its fabulous freshman-laden squad.

With great talent comes great expectations for the Blue Devils. Though they rank fourth and third in the AP and coaches preseason polls, respectively, Vegas odds ahead of the season's start next week give them a leg up on everyone to win it all. According to the Westgate Las vegas Superbook, they are 4-to-1 favorites to win a sixth title in program history, which would give them a stunning third championship over the past nine years.

Only two other programs -- UCLA (1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973) and Kentucky (1948, 1949, 1951) -- have won three or more titles in a similar nine-year time period that Duke is well-positioned to accomplish.

Behind Duke is Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina in the preseason betting odds order. Kansas is 6-to-1, Kentucky is 6-to-1 and North Carolina is 8-to-1. Gonzaga, a team I like as a sleeper to win it all, has 10-to-1 odds.

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Best bets
1

Odds: 10-to-1

Gonzaga is No. 3 and 4 in the preseason AP and coaches polls, respectively, and yet its odds are fifth-best entering the season. Not a huge discrepancy, but notable simply because the Zags are already pretty undervalued based on where they're slotted in preseason polls. With Killian Tillie, Rui Hachimura, Zach Norvell and Josh Perkins coming back, there's strong optimism the Bulldogs can get back to their second Final Four in three seasons.

2

Odds: 12-to-1

Nevada was Sweet 16 good a season ago, and it is bringing back virtually all of its stars -- namely Caleb and Cody Martin, Jordan Caroline and Lindsey Drew. With that core returning and Jordan Brown, K.J. Hymes, Vincent Lee, Trey Porter (pause, grabs breath), Corey Henson, Tre'Shawn Thurman and Nisre' Zouzoua all potential impact players making their debuts as members of the Wolf Pack, it's not unrealistic to think this team could be special. The best college basketball offense may reside in Reno.

3

Odds: 100-to-1

This feels like a longshot at 100-to-1. It is not. LSU is going to be superb this season behind sophomore star Tremont Waters, and he's got star power incoming with five-star freshmen Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams. The Tigers roster, crafted by young coach Will Wade, is extremely sound from top to bottom. They could surprise and challenge for the SEC crown; the national title isn't an outlandish objective given its talent level.

Worst bets

Odds: 25-to-1

I don't feel great about listing the reigning national champions, who have won the title in two of the past three seasons, as a program whose odds may be overvalued. But even with five-star Jahvon Quinerly in the program and Eric Paschall lined up for a leap-year, the losses of Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman -- the team's top four scorers from a season ago -- make it difficult to envision it being a realistic title contender. But then again, Jay Wright's a Hall of Famer, there's definitely something to the touted Villanova culture, and this program is bordering on dynasty levels of success.


Odds: 100-to-1

The Bruins find themselves here if for no other reason than a stroke of bad fortune. Highly-touted prospects Shareef O'Neal and Tyger Campbell have already been ruled out for the upcoming season, which will shrink UCLA's expected deep rotation, as will the injury to Alex Olesinski that puts his expected return right around the start of conference play. UCLA's got two great ones in Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes, but the lack of depth, coupled with the lack of stellar freshmen talent, has me bearish on the Bruins.


Odds: 200-to-1

Arizona coach Sean Miller is facing the unenviable task of replacing his top five scorers from last season's roster. And unlike recruiting years of the past, thanks in large part to questions surrounding the FBI investigation into college hoops, the Wildcats don't have a superstar-studded class incoming to restock the cupboard. Simply getting to the NCAA Tournament may be considered a win this season. Zona is ranked No. 42 in Matt Norlander's 1-353 rankings. I recommend staying away here, even though its blueblood status at 200-to-1 may be tempting.

Best longshots

Odds: 200-to-1

Rick Stansbury brings into the season the best team in C-USA, and perhaps boasts the best player in the league, too, in five-star freshman Charles Bassey. The Hilltoppers are going to be a force. With a dominating post presence in Bassey and a superb sophomore in guard Taveion Hollingsworth, WKU making a postseason run -- like it did last season in the NIT -- is totally feasible.


Odds: 200-to-1

The Atlantic 10 is a tough one to peg. For my money, I'd recommend Saint Louis. Davidson, Dayton and Saint Joseph's are all team's worthy of consideration, too. Overall, though, I like what Travis Ford has behind him: A stellar senior in Javon Bess and promising freshman in Carte'Are Gordon gives the Billikens hope to win the league and advance deep in March.


Odds: 300-to-1

Loyola-Chicago, the Final Four Cinderella, is the preseason pick to come out of the Valley. But I'm rolling with Dan Muller and Illinois State, a program that has a bona fide star in Milik Yarbrough. If he can stay on the straight and narrow, the Redbirds are going to be a factor in both the MVC and the Big Dance.


Odds: 500-to-1

At the risk of sounding completely ludicrous, oddsmakers have apparently fallen asleep at the wheel on Mike Daum and South Dakota State. The Dauminator, the back-to-back Summit Player of the Year, has a chance to lead the Jackrabbits to a Summit League tournament title (again). If he gets there all bets are off. Norlander has SDSU as the No. 52 team entering the season, so this squad's wildly underrated.

Odds to win 2019 NCAA Tournament

via Westgate Las Vegas Superbook

TeamOdds
Duke 4-1
Kansas 6-1
Kentucky 6-1
North Carolina 8-1
Gonzaga 10-1
Virginia 12-1
Nevada 12-1
Oregon 20-1
Villanova 25-1
Michigan State 25-1
Tennessee 25-1
Indiana 30-1
Michigan 40-1
Auburn 40-1
West Virginia 40-1
Syracuse 40-1
Kansas State 40-1
Purdue 80-1
Cincinnati 80-1
Florida State 80-1
Virginia Tech 80-1
UCLA 100-1
Florida 100-1
Texas Tech 100-1
Wichita State 100-1
Arizona State 100-1
Maryland 100-1
Ohio State 100-1
Clemson 100-1
Miami 100-1
NC State 100-1
Mississippi State 100-1
LSU 100-1
Texas 100-1
Penn State 100-1
Wisconsin 100-1
St. John's 100-1
TCU 100-1
Alabama 100-1
Iowa State 100-1
Notre Dame 100-1
Marquette 100-1
Washington 100-1
Vanderbilt 200-1
Louisville 200-1
Seton Hall 200-1
Xavier 200-1
Butler 200-1
Arizona 200-1
Southern California 200-1
Houston 200-1
SMU 200-1
Memphis 200-1
Nebraska 200-1
UCF 200-1
Saint Louis 200-1
Western Kentucky 200-1
Baylor 300-1
Texas A&M 300-1
Arkansas 300-1
Missouri 300-1
San Diego State 300-1
Illinois 300-1
Providence 300-1
Creighton 300-1
Oklahoma 300-1
Saint Mary's 300-1
Minnesota 300-1
South Carolina 300-1
Georgetown 300-1
Rhode Island 300-1
Utah 300-1
Iowa 300-1
Davidson 300-1
Illinois State 300-1
Loyola-Chicago 300-1
BYU 300-1
Colorado 300-1
St. Joseph's 300-1
Buffalo 300-1
Oregon State 500-1
Northwestern 500-1
UConn 500-1
New Mexico 500-1
UNLV 500-1
Temple 500-1
Fresno State 500-1
Harvard 500-1
Marshall 500-1
New Mexico State 500-1
Charleston 500-1
Dayton 500-1
VCU 500-1
Northeastern 500-1
Montana 500-1
Georgia State 500-1
UC Irvine 500-1
South Dakota State 500-1
George Mason 500-1
Northern Kentucky 500-1
Stephen F. Austin 500-1
Stanford 1000-1
Goergia 1000-1
Oklahoma State 1000-1
Boise State 1000-1
Boston College 1000-1
Wake Forest 1000-1
Georgia Tech 1000-1
Ole Miss 1000-1
Old Dominion 1000-1
Rutgers 1000-1
Tulsa 1000-1
Northern Iowa 1000-1
Richmond 1000-1
Utah State 1000-1
DePaul 1000-1
St. Bonaventure 1000-1
Bradley 1000-1
Wright State 1000-1
Furman 1000-1
Grand Canyon 1000-1
Middle Tennessee 1000-1
Southern Illinois 1000-1
Toledo 1000-1
Louisiana 1000-1
Belmont 1000-1
UC Davis 1000-1
UNC Greensboro 1000-1
North Texas 1000-1
Wofford 1000-1
UTSA 1000-1
Murray State 1000-1
Valparaiso 2000-1
Colorado State 2000-1
Missouri State 2000-1
La Salle 2000-1
Tulane 2000-1
Pennsylvania 2000-1
Western Michigan 2000-1
UAB 2000-1
Vermont 2000-1
San Diego 2000-1
Iona 2000-1
San Francisco 2000-1
Liberty 2000-1
Rider 2000-1
Louisiana Tech 2000-1
Southern Miss 2000-1
South Alabama 2000-1
Cal State Fullerton 2000-1
Jacksonville State 2000-1
Eastern Michigan 2000-1
Weber State 2000-1
Georgia Southern 2000-1
South Dakota 5000-1
East Tennessee State 5000-1
Kent State 5000-1
Massachusetts 5000-1
Yale 5000-1
Ball State 5000-1
Florida Gulf Coast 5000-1
Monmouth 5000-1
Washington State 5000-1
Princeton 5000-1
Indiana State 5000-1
Ohio 5000-1
North Dakota State 5000-1
Miami (Ohio) 5000-1
Towson 5000-1
Bucknell 5000-1
Illinois-Chicago 5000-1
Seattle 5000-1
Texas State 5000-1
Duquesne 5000-1
Utah Valley 5000-1
Milwaukee 5000-1
Hawaii 5000-1
Wyoming 5000-1
William and Mary 5000-1
Albany 5000-1
UNC Wilmington 5000-1
California 5000-1
UCSB 5000-1
Cleveland State 5000-1
Portland 5000-1
UMBC 5000-1
Central Michigan 5000-1
Pittsburgh 5000-1
Oakland 5000-1
Evansville 5000-1
Texas-Arlington 5000-1
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