In college football these days, the same couple of teams – Alabama and Ohio State mainly – are favored to win the national championship entering each season. That’s because those schools recruit better than anyone else.
But in many ways, recruiting is more important in NCAA basketball because players can leave for the NBA after one season as opposed to three in football.
The two best basketball recruiters on the planet are Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Kentucky’s John Calipari. Their teams are always among the betting favorites to win it all, and this season is no different. Coach K’s Blue Devils are atop the heap at +400 on the odds to win the national championship with Michigan State at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Duke lost a ton of talent – led by NBA first-round picks Jayson Tatum and Luke Kennard – off last year’s team that was upset in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by Oregon.
However, Grayson Allen returned to Durham and is an early National Player of the Year favorite. Krzyzewski also welcomed the No. 1 freshman class in the country. That group was headlined by Marvin Bagley III. He originally was to be in the Class of 2018 but reclassified this summer. Many believe Bagley will be the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
No Big Ten team has won the national championship since Michigan State in 2000, but Coach Tom Izzo could have his most talented club since then. Star forward Miles Bridges shocked everyone in the basketball world by choosing to return to East Lansing for his sophomore season, and he got the most votes of any player on this year’s AP Preseason All-American team.
Izzo also brought in one of the best recruiting classes of his Hall of Fame career. Second-ranked Michigan State lost to No. 1 Duke 88-81 on Tuesday night in the Champions Classic. Allen had 37 points to lead the Blue Devils.
Kentucky is +800 to cut down the nets on the first Monday of April at the San Antonio Alamodome. Calipari lost nearly everyone of note off last year’s club, led by NBA first-round picks De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo, that lost a thriller to eventual national champion North Carolina in the Elite Eight. But Coach Cal simply reloads with five-star prep All-Americans.
No coach has taken better advantage of the one-and-done NBA rule than Calipari. The No. 7 Wildcats lost 65-61 to No. 4 Kansas (+1600) in Tuesday’s Champions Classic.
North Carolina is +2500 to be the first team to repeat as national champion since Florida in 2007. The Heels lost stars Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks off that squad, but Final Four Most Outstanding Player Joel Berry II is back. However, he will miss the first few weeks of the season due to a broken hand.
The non-Power 5 school with the shortest title odds is Wichita State at +2000. Coach Gregg Marshall returns all five starters from last year’s 31-5 team. The Shockers raised their national profile this offseason by moving from the Missouri Valley Conference to the American Athletic Conference.