Dust off those brackets - NCAA Basketball is back this weekend

A look at the upcoming college basketball season, including the top teams and best betting odds to win the National Championship.

Most traditional college powers reload getting ready for their April 2nd dream

While we fight deciding who squeezes into the sacred four spots to play in the NCAA College Football playoffs in about six weeks, the quest to play upon March Madness in basketball begins in only a few days.

To jog your memory, most all our college basketball brackets were busted early last year, when hopeful giant-killers Gonzaga remained to knock off perennial threat North Carolina in the NCAA Finals. Sadly, the Cinderella Zags couldn't complete the fantasy (including mine) as 15-1 pre-tourney choice, losing to the Tar Heels 71-65.

There doesn't seem to be any similar underdogs waiting to take the crown this year. The list of favorites includes many familiar powerhouse names with storied college basketball tradition attached. That doesn't mean making a nice profit by isolating on a specific future pick at any of the preferred offshore sportsbooks is not possible right now. The rules as always are simple. Shop around for the best possible choice on your selection and then brag next Spring that you were there before Thanksgiving to be the soothsayer.

NCAA basketball national champion oddsAs an excellent example, the following is the complete list for the 2018 Men's NCAA College Basketball Championship, courtesy of Bovada:

• Duke                +400
• Michigan State +600
• Kentucky          +750
• Arizona             +900
• Kansas            +1600
• Missouri           +1600
• North Carolina +1600
• Wichita State   +2000
• Louisville         +2500
• USC                +2500
• Texas              +2500
• Villanova         +2800
• Florida            +3300
• UCLA              +4000
• Minnesota U   +5000
• Michigan         +5000
• Gonzaga         +5000
• Virginia            +6600
• Oregon            +6600
• West Virginia   +6600
• Butler               +6600
• Miami Florida   +6600
• Purdue             +6600
• Alabama          +6600
• St. Mary's CA   +6600
• Notre Dame      +6600
• Florida State     +7500
• Indiana U          +7500
• Baylor               +7500
• Wisconsin         +7500
• Xavier               +7500
• TCU                  +7500
• Cinncinnati        +8000
• Syracuse           +8000
• Oklahoma        +10000
• Creighton         +10000
• Seton Hall        +10000
• Connecticut      +10000
• SMU                +10000
• Iowa State       +10000
• Vanderbilt        +10000
• Maryland         +10000
• Auburn            +10000
• UNLV              +10000
• Texas A&M      +10000
• South Carolina +15000
• Arkansas         +15000
• Illinois              +15000
• Marquette        +15000
• Northwestern   +15000
• San Diego State +15000
• Utah U             +15000
• VCU                 +15000
• Virginia Tech    +15000
• Georgetown     +15000
• Georgia            +20000
• Providence       +25000
• Stanford           +25000
• Iowa                 +25000
• California         +30000
• BYU                 +30000
• Ohio State       +30000
• Arizona State  +30000
• Clemson         +30000
• Colorado         +30000
• Dayton            +30000
• Kansas State +30000
• Mississippi      +30000
• Mississippi State +30000
• Rhode Island  +30000
• Tennessee      +30000
• Oklahoma State +30000
• Penn State      +30000
• Texas Tech      +30000
• Wake Forest   +30000
• NC State         +50000
• Pittsburgh       +50000
• Boise State     +50000
• Boston College +50000
• Colorado State +50000
• Harvard           +50000
• LSU                 +50000
• Memphis U     +50000
• Northern Iowa +50000
• Oregon State +50000
• Washington State +50000
• Washington U +50000

Yes, it's a long list but to save you much time and much money you can eliminate most of it. There will be upsets throughout the regular season and glamourous records earning many of these schools an opportunity to get to "the big dance". But in the end, it's tough to survive seven consecutive wins against the best competition in the world, under immense pressure.

Not surprising, the shortest college basketball odds and candidates are almost an in-order organization of the pre-season AP, ESPN and USA Today polls. It's a safe place to start and always a strong indication how the public will wager for the major sportsbooks. But remember nothing is guaranteed. It was only seven months ago, Duke took its preseason No. 1 ranking and promptly disappointed, finishing a disappointing 28-9 before losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The Blue Devils will hope for a turnaround result this time around with a better team and more experience.
The Associated Press once again tapped Duke as its top-ranked team to begin the 2017-18 season while Michigan State trails closely behind at No. 2. Arizona, Kansas and Kentucky round out the Top Five in what looks like a field of teams without a truly dominant force. If a bettor could simply isolate the one school that will capture the crown, they will be rewarded with a solid return by eliminating the rest of the list. Notice that these are the exact five in wagering order at Bovada.

NCAA basketball oddsLast Big Dance for Coach K?

Senior Grayson Allen returns to a Duke starting lineup that features a mix of highly touted blue-chip freshmen. Trevon Duval was the second-ranked point guard in the country, and power forward Marvin Bagley could be the pre- favorite to go No. 1 in the 2018 NBA draft. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has the luxury to pick out his final starter from many high-profile players. With thirty plus games to gather experience, it's understandable why they're the choice at +400 to +500 at most preferred sportsbooks.

Michigan State has a lineup filled with names from last season. Unusual these days with star players heading to the NBA as freshman. The Spartans will return four of their five leading scorers from last season, highlighted by likely lottery pick Miles Bridges. The sophomore forward would have been a top-15 pick had he entered last June's NBA draft but chose to return after Michigan State's disappointing 20-15 season.

Coach Tom Izzo also landed prized 5-star forward Jaren Jackson, who should give Bridges a proper co-star. Jackson was the eighth-ranked player in the 2017 class. We might even get a very early "pre-final preview" on Sunday, November 14th when these two teams meet.

As for Kansas, they lost Frank Mason and Josh Jackson to the NBA but still return a loaded roster of top talent. Devonte' Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk should step into starring roles as seniors, while promising freshman Billy Preston should have a chance to break out. Viewing at least 16-1 could be very tempting.

As they customarily do every season, Kentucky welcomed eight freshmen in the 2017 class, six of whom carried 5-star distinction. No doubt, if the Wildcats team every stuck together for two straight years they would be giant favorites and likely win a championship. Till they break that selfish tradition, I can't back John Calipari with confidence at short +750 odds.

Two Monsters to Watch

Arizona. Always so much promise but always a disappointment in late March. The Wildcats' immense potential on the court is now overshadowed by controversial developments off it. Arizona is one of four programs to have an assistant coach facing federal bribery and fraud charges stemming from an FBI corruption investigation. Their president announced in September that the school had suspended an assistant coach and is beginning a dismissal process. On the court they have Allonzo Trier, who is a National Player of the Year candidate. He's joined by DeAndre Ayton, a legitimate 7-foot, 250 lb. NBA center. Together, these two will rule the Pac-10. They likely could be the #1 ranked team for most of the season.

Wichita State. I suppose you could call them this year's Gonzaga. They always win dozens of games but surrender to top competition come tourney time. Maybe not this year as the Shockers bring back all their top eight scorers. Again, they will win most games and score lots of points. Key will be playing defense and rebounding against the very best competition. But if you are a believer, you'll be paid handsomely by Bovada at +2000.

As a strategy scenario, not a bad idea to isolate one of the favorites with 90% of your future investment and take a flyer with another candidate as one of the longshots. Put the tickets in the imaginary drawer and enjoy the long season. Who knows, you could get really lucky and the two face-off against each other on April 2nd, 2018. Tip-off this weekend!!

Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.

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