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Duke betting favorite to win NCAA Tournament

Duke betting favorite to win NCAA Tournament”

I love Villanova's sophomore point guard Jalen Brunson, but Duke is finally healthy and peaking at the right time.

And he would have a point.

Conventional wisdom has Villanova as a lock to be No. 1 overall. Usually, the committee gives Duke the benefit of the doubt, so it's odd to see the opposite this time. 2017 marks the first season the Blue Devils and Pirates meet in a home-and-home series since 2002.

When the Blue Devils beat Notre Dame, 75-69, for the ACC title Saturday, Giles played just 10 minutes but helped strengthen the inside along with veteran forward Amile Jefferson.

Skinny: The committee didn't do Villanova any favors with this draw, even after giving the Wildcats the top overall seed.

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A win over Notre Dame would give Duke 13 (!) RPI top-50 wins, more than anyone else. The Blue Devils also fell to Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Miami.

A loss at any stage of the WCC Tournament would have sent the Bulldogs to the two or three line, but they scraped by Santa Clara in the semifinals and earned a third victory over Saint Mary's in the championship game. Bishop Gorman High School graduate Zach Collins is one of the top players off the bench. Gonzaga may not play as many tough games in the West Coast Conference, but they beat the Big 12 tourney champ, the Pac-12 tourney champ, and Florida. Two of their freshmen making an immediate impact are Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons, who appeared to be on track to be future Rebels before the complete changeover of UNLV's coaching staff. Duke, though, added three great wins, wins better than most tournament teams have cumulatively over the course of three months.

OR (4/1), Purdue (5/1) and Iowa State (10/1).

So it wouldn't be a complete shock if the Wolf Pack advance to the second week, and if Cameron Oliver, Jordan Caroline and Marcus Marshall are on their games, UNR will be a tough out.

No. 10 Wichita State vs.

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Duke started the season ranked No. 1 in the preseason by the Associated Press and USA Today Sports coaches poll after returning three starters from last season's team that reached the Sweet 16 and bringing in one of the nation's top recruiting classes. And I could see Rhode Island pulling off the upset in the First Round because they are playing better at just the right time and Creighton did struggle after Watson got hurt back in January.

Even if that doesn't work out, SMU is better than a six seed.

Middle Tennessee State F JaCorey Williams: The Conference USA Player of the Year, who sat out last year after transferring from Arkansas, averaged a team-best 17.5 points a game and 7.4 rebounds a game in the regular season.

And here's the thing with Duke's eight losses - there are caveats to a lot of them. My Final Four is Kentucky from the South vs. Kansas from the Midwest and Duke from the East vs. Arizona from the West.

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