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NCAA Championship outright odds (As of March 20)
North Carolina: 7.25
Michigan State: 13.00
It was an injury that made headlines throughout the basketball world. Zion Williamson, on the court clutching his knee after his other foot had broken through his Nike shoe, 30 seconds into a rivalry game against the North Carolina Tar Heels.
It was, for a variety of reasons, a concerning sight.
Not even a month later, Williamson has returned from a sprained knee and, most importantly for the Duke Blue Devils, has returned to his dominant self on the court, proving as much when he came back to game action during the ACC Tournament.
That should provide optimism for bettors who picked Duke to win the NCAA Championship. The Blue Devils have the best odds to conquer March Madness, currently 3.25 at PlayNow.com as the tournament begins.
As of Monday afternoon, about 49.8 per cent of money wagered on the NCAA Championship outright market was on the Blue Devils to claim the title. No other team in the tournament even comes close to that number. In fact, the second-largest portion of money wagered on the outright result is on Gonzaga – at 10.7 per cent.
The odds for a Duke-Gonzaga final, by the way, are 9.50 at PlayNow.com, with that bet available until Thursday morning.
As for Williamson, the 18-year-old phenom who has the best odds to go No. 1 overall in the upcoming NBA Draft, his odds to win the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player are 4.60.
Three weeks ago, many might have doubted that he would be in the conversation at all.
NCAA Championship odds: 6.25
The Virginia Cavaliers have the second best odds to win the NCAA Championship, currently 6.25 at PlayNow.com entering this year’s tournament.
Of course, last year they were a No. 1 seed in the tournament. Their time as such was brief, as they were eliminated in the first round – by a No. 16 seed in what was a historical upset.
March Madness can often feature one or two plucky underdogs that, on any given night, can find a way to keep games close before eventually pulling off the upset victory. You know, the kind of upsets that instantly bust a bracket.
In the case of the Cavaliers, they became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed.
The Cavaliers face Gardner Webb on Friday to open their tournament. Virginia was, as of Tuesday evening, a 22.5-point favourite at PlayNow.com.
NCAA Championship odds: 7.25
For a time this season, the Gonzaga Bulldogs were the top-ranked team in NCAA Basketball, however, not anymore. Not right now, anyway.
That very likely has a lot to do with the fact Gonzaga didn’t just lose the WCC Tournament final to Saint Mary’s a week ago – they lost by 13 points and scored just 47 the entire game.
The Bulldogs put up 30 wins to only three losses this season, but that defeat to Saint Mary’s (currently a long shot to win the national title at odds of 225.00) was a stinker.
Can they earn redemption over these next few weeks?
The Bulldogs were, as of Wednesday, 27.5-point favourites in their tournament opener against Fair Dickenson University. As of Monday, about 10.7 per cent of money wagered on the national championship outright was on the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga was 9-2 Against The Spread when they were favoured by 25 points or more this season.
North Carolina Tar Heels
NCAA Championship odds: 7.25
The North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils waged a thrilling contest in the ACC semifinal round – two heavyweight contenders in NCAA hoops with the latter coming away victorious by a single point.
Both teams – two storied rivals – find themselves on opposite ends of the bracket, which makes you think of the possibilities of a potential rematch and the hype that would surround that game if it happened.
The Tar Heels are tied with Gonzaga for the third best odds to win the NCAA tournament, currently 7.25 at PlayNow.com. When it comes to money bet on the championship, only 3.43 per cent has been placed on the Tar Heels.
A tad surprising, maybe.
Their outright odds have been trending upward all throughout the season. Their pre-season odds to win it all started at 13.00 and were down to 9.50 earlier in the week prior to the start of the tournament.
Michigan State Spartans
NCAA Championship odds: 13.00
The Michigan State Spartans go into the NCAA tournament fresh off a five-point win over their rivals, the Michigan Wolverines, in the Big Ten final.
They enter March Madness with the fifth best odds to win the tournament, currently 13.00 at PlayNow.com. Like the Tar Heels, their odds have been trending up the board.
In preseason, the Spartans’ odds were 22.00. A total of 0.75 per cent of money has been bet on Michigan State to win the championship.
Semifinalists in 2015, the Spartans haven’t made it beyond the second round of the tournament since. In 2017, they were sent packing following a 20-point loss to Kansas.
As of Wednesday, Michigan State was an 18.5-point favourite in its tournament opener against the No. 15-ranked Bradley Braves.