2017 NCAA Tournament Betting: Kentucky Wildcats Leading March Madness Odds

OddsShark.com@@OddsSharkFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2017

Kentucky head coach John Calipari
Kentucky head coach John CalipariAssociated Press

Sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark do not seem to care that the Kentucky Wildcats suffered a 22-point road loss to the Florida Gators on Saturday to fall for the third time in four games.

The Wildcats are still the +700 favorites (bet $100 to win $700) to win their ninth men's basketball championship and first since 2012 at the end of March Madness, sitting above other traditional top programs like the Kansas Jayhawks (+800), UCLA Bruins (+900), North Carolina Tar Heels (+900) and Duke Blue Devils (+1000).

Head coach John Calipari's Kentucky squad is once again viewed by many as the most talented in the country, and all that matters is winning six straight games in the NCAA tournament.

That is the mindset of a lot of teams right now that have been disappointing during the regular season, including the Blue Devils, who were ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP Top 25, just ahead of the second-ranked Wildcats.

While Kentucky and Duke are fighting to stay ranked, the Gonzaga Bulldogs (+800) and defending national champion Villanova Wildcats (+1000) sit atop the Top 25 at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.

The unbeaten Bulldogs are the lone Top 25 team with less than two losses, and they will face their only serious regular-season test Saturday when they visit the 20th-ranked Saint Mary's Gaels. Gonzaga crushed Saint Mary's 79-56 as a five-point home favorite on the college basketball point spreads on January 14 in their first meeting this year.

The Bulldogs have won the WCC 21 times but have never been to a Final Four.

Another huge matchup will take place this Thursday in the ACC when the Blue Devils host the Tar Heels. North Carolina leads the conference, but that could change drastically over the next month, especially if Duke wins their next meeting.

Other teams to watch as March Madness sleepers include the Big Ten's Wisconsin Badgers (+2800), Maryland Terrapins (+2800) and Purdue Boilermakers (+4000). Those three teams are leading the conference while the Northwestern Wildcats (+20000) are right behind them and real long shots to cut down the nets on April 3.

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