Now that we’re into the second week of the new year, conference play is well underway throughout NCAA basketball, and we’re starting to see some teams separating themselves from the rest of the competition and preparing their resumes for consideration for March Madness. On the first Saturday of the 2018 part of the season, five ranked teams lost to unranked opponents, with four of those setbacks coming on the road. Let’s take a look at how the most recent action influences how we look at sports betting for the upcoming men’s College Basketball Championship tournament — and picking the team in the NCAAB odds that will win it all.
Early 2018 College Basketball Championship Betting Predictions
Here is Sunday’s updated @CBSSports Top 25 (and one) college basketball rankings.
1. Michigan State
3. West Virginia
5. Texas Tech
8. Arizona State
9. Wichita State
10. Purdue …https://t.co/JtBIJt0kgN
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) January 7, 2018
One of the most entertaining results from the first Saturday in 2018 was Georgia’s 65-46 shellacking of Alabama. The Bulldogs are showing up on more and more brackets now — and while the win was far less significant than the win Alabama would pick up in the College Football Championship two days later, at least Georgia fans got some solace out of the weekend.
What about Texas A&M losing at home to LSU? A lot of people like the Aggies to make a deep run — and it’s true that unranked LSU won courtesy of a buzzer-beater from Tremont Waters.
However, the Tigers should never have been that close in this game. The Aggies need to find ways to get stops more reliably, especially once the real quality in the SEC (Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia come to mind) shows up on their schedule.
On Sunday, we saw Michigan State take their top ranking in the nation to Ohio State and lose to the Buckeyes. For a lot of bracketologists, that win gave Ohio State a spot on a lot of prospective brackets and knocking the Spartans out of one of the top seeds.
Purdue looks like the top seed from the Midwest Region right now, if the season ended today.
What About the Big 12?
In the Big 12, Oklahoma was looking like the top team until they went to Morgantown and took a loss at the hands of West Virginia. The Mountaineers are a projected top seed right now — but always remain wary of “Press” Virginia, because they have a way of unraveling once they have to come down out of the hills and play solid opposition on the road.
That fullcourt frenzy is a grinding style that teams have a hard time sustaining over the course of a regular season and into the grind of tournament play.
Duke went to North Carolina State and lost — the second year in a row that the Wolfpack have dealt the Blue Devils a head-scratching loss. However, Duke still has three wins over Tier 1 opponents, so they are projected to enter the bracket as a #1 seed right now.
The other top seed? That would be Villanova, which right now sits as the top seed in the entire tournament after an impressive home win over Marquette and is used to the College Basketball Championship scenario.
Slightly further down the bracket, we see Kansas, Virginia, Arizona State and Xavier on the 2-seed lines. Xavier survived a loss to unranked Providence — but the Friars jumped into consideration thanks to that conference win, as they went to Cincinnati and took the Musketeers down.
The third seeds right now are projected to be Oklahoma, Michigan State, Arizona and Seton Hall. The fourth seeds right now are projected to be TCU, Texas Tech, Cincinnati and North Carolina. Look for Cincinnati to fade down the stretch in American Athletic Conference play, though, as that is their usual progression.
Picking the Winner
If I had to pick a winner today for the 2018 College Basketball Championship, I would look at Duke or Villanova. Duke has the resume so far this season, and Villanova has the pedigree — and the consistency.
They have just one loss on the season, and they rebounded nicely from that loss to take down Marquette. Their combination of speed on the outside and size on the inside will make them a tough foe for anyone.