With Zion Williamson back and healthy, the Duke Blue Devils were expected to win the ACC Tournament and become one of the No. 1 seeds in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Sure enough, for the second time in three years, they did win the ACC tourney.
Sunday night they were named the No. 1 seed in the East bracket. As could be expected, they are favored to win it all—but they aren’t just favored to win. They are the heaviest favorites to win it all since the 2014-15 Kentucky Wildcats.
Caesars Sportsbook released their tournament odds on Monday with Duke’s odds set at +200. That means they have a 33.3 percent shot at winning it all. Odds on some of the other top teams to win it all are:
- Virginia +600 (14.29 percent)
- North Carolina +800 (11.1 percent)
- Gonzaga +800 (11.1 percent)
- Kentucky +1000 (9.09 percent)
- Tennessee +1200 (7.69 percent)
- Michigan State +1500 (6.25 percent)
- Michigan +2500 (3.85 percent)
- Texas Tech +2500 (3.85 percent)
- Houston +3000 (3.23 percent)
- Purdue +3000 (3.23 percent)
So, with the odds so heavily in Duke’s favor should you go ahead and put your money down on the Blue Devils? If you want the least amount of risk, sure—but you will not win much, and they are far from a lock to make the Final Four.
Favorites do not always win. According toSportsOddsHistory.com, the 2014-15 Kentucky squad entered the tournament with +120 odds or a 40 percent chance to win it all. They ended up losing to Wisconsin in the Final Four.
The odds do not mean they are going to win, but they got the odds they have because of the amazing talent they have on the team—just like every other No. 1 seed in the tournament that has come before them. So, being a No. 1 seed is a good sign, and NCAA tournament history has been kind to No. 1 seed.
Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there have been 34 national champions crowned. Of the 68 spots in those 34 title games, nearly half of them were filled by No. 1 seeds (32; 47 percent), and a No. 1 seed has won it all 20 times. Seven of those games were between No. 1 seeds.
That kind of makes it seem like rolling with Duke is a pretty good idea. Right? Not so fast!
The final AP Poll prior to the tournament has the Blue Devils back on top as the No. 1 team in the nation. Since 1985, there have only been four teams ranked No. 1 in the final AP Poll that went on to win the tournament. That would give them a whopping 11.7 percent chance of winning it all.
That kind of puts a damper on picking the favorite. But it hasn’t stopped many people from going with the Blue Devils in their brackets. According to ESPN, of the 1.3 million brackets filled out in the first three hours after the selection show, 53.9 percent chose Duke to win it all.