The Associated Press and sportsbooks are pretty much in agreement who college basketball’s top four teams are. The top four teams in the AP Top 25 preseason poll are the four teams with the lowest NCAAB Final Four odds. Things become a little more fuzzy after that. But there is plenty of agreement between the two in the early NCAAB odds.
The Four Favorites
Gonzaga (+250): The Bulldogs are the early favorites to make the Final Four. Gonzaga is ranked No. 2 by the AP in the preseason poll. Led by Drew Timme and Julian Strawther, the Zags were bounced in the Sweet 16 a year ago. The Zags finished the season with a 28-4 record.
Kentucky (+275): The Wildcats are No. 4 in the AP poll but have the second-lowest NCAAB Final Four odds. Kentucky has a big-time player in Oscar Tshiebwe, who averaged more than 15 points and rebounds per game. The Wildcats were stunned in the first round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago by Saint Peters. It was one of the biggest college basketball point spreads upsets in NCAA Tournament history. Kentucky was favored by 18 points and lost in overtime.
North Carolina (+300): UNC is ranked No. 1 by the AP and have the third-lowest NCAAB Final Four odds at +300. North Carolina has its own 1-2 punch of Armando Bacot and Caleb Love. The Tar Heels lost to Kansas in the Finals last season, finishing 29-10.
Houston (+325): The Cougars are ranked No. 3 by the AP and have the fourth-lowest Final Four odds. Houston will ride the shooting of Marcus Sasser and play tough defense. The Cougars aren’t pretty to watch at times but their style works. Houston finished 32-6 last season and lost in the Elite Eight.
Best of the Rest
Kansas (+400): The Jayhawks are No. 5 in the AP poll and tied for fifth-lowest NCAAB Final Four odds. But it isn’t easy to repeat as NCAA Basketball champions. Teams will be gunning for Kansas and the team’s two-leading scorers are gone. Jalen Wilson is good enough to pick up some of the slack. But will it be enough?
Baylor (+400): The Bears are tied with Kansas at No. 5 in the AP poll. Baylor had an early exit in last year’s NCAA Tournament, losing to UNC in the second round. The Bears return three of their top four scorers from last year’s team. Baylor finished the season with a 27-7 record.
UCLA (+450): It’s too early to call this a return to the John Wooden era. But the Bruins have a solid team ranked No. 8 by the Associated Press. The NCAAB Final Four odds have the Bruins with the seventh-lowest number at +450. UCLA finished last year with a 27-8 record, reaching the Sweet 16. Leading scorer Johnny Juzang is playing for the Utah Jazz. But Jaime Jaquez is a big-time player and will pick-up some of the scoring load.
Duke (+500): The Blue Devils are No. 7 in the AP poll and have the seventh-lowest Final Four odds. Duke lost to North Carolina in the Final Four a year ago and finished 32-7. The top five scorers for last year’s Blue Devil squad are playing in the NBA this season. But the Blue Devils return Jeremy Roach and bring in another top class.
Arkansas (+500): The Razorbacks are No. 10 in the AP poll and tied for the eighth-lowest Final Four odds. Arkansas finished 28-9 a year ago and lost to Duke in the Elite Eight. The Razorbacks were hit hard by departures and need more from Davonte Davis, who disappeared once Arkansas reached the Sweet 16 last year.Follow us on Twitter