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NCAA Men's College Basketball Championship Futures: Duke, Baylor Gaining on Gonzaga

Gonzaga is still the betting favorite at SI Sportsbook after a wild weekend full of upsets, while Baylor and Duke are moving up the board.

March has finally arrived and that means that Selection Sunday is now only 12 days away! Before we arrive upon that exciting event, we have some pivotal conference tournaments that will either burst bubbles or steal bids.

Mark Few's No. 1 Gonzaga squad, which has now lost to No. 9 Duke, No. 19 St. Mary’s and No. 25 Alabama, is an overwhelming favorite (+400) atop the NCAA Championship futures’ market at SI Sportsbook. Arizona (+800) and Kentucky (+800) are the only other teams currently being offered at single-digit odds.

Let's dive and take a look at the top contenders and their current odds in the NCAA championship futures’ market!

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Gonzaga coach Mark Few, standing at left, reacts to a call with Chet Holmgren (34), Nolan Hickman (11) and Hunter Sallis (10) during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Saint Mary's in Moraga, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022.

CHAMPIONSHIP FUTURE ODDS

No. 1 Gonzaga (24-3 Straight-Up (SU), 14-11-2 Against The Spread (ATS))

Opening Odds: +500 / Current Odds: +400

Despite suffering their first loss since early December, the Bulldogs hold on to the top spot in the National polls and remain aligned with the SI Sportsbook oddsmakers' power rankings. Gonzaga also saw its 13-game winning streak in the West Coast Conference snapped by division rival St. Mary’s.

The Bulldogs, who lost straight-up as 10.5-point road favorites, have burned bettors recently by posting a 1-3-1 ATS mark over their last five games despite a 4-1 SU record. Gonzaga’s futures odds continue to plummet now, displaying their lowest betting odds of the season at +400.

Drew Timme may lead the club in scoring (17.6 ppg) but big man Chet Holmgren is the engine that will drive this club deep into March. Arguably the best freshman in the country, Holmgren has notched a double-double in seven of his last nine games. It is not only his offensive talents that could potentially carry this team back to the NCAA title game, but rather his defensive prowess highlighted by 3.6 blocks per game.

No. 2 Arizona (25-3 SU, 16-11-1 ATS)

Opening Odds: +4000/ Current Odds: +800

Arizona is another team that holds onto to its ranking despite suffering a shocking defeat. The Wildcats saw their nine-game winning streak snapped when they lost, 79-63, to Colorado as 9.5-point road favorites. Projected NBA lottery selection Bennedict Mathurin (17.1 ppg, 5.7 rbg) suffered one of his worst shooting performances of the season (27.3% from the field). The star guard will need to be a consistent floor general if Arizona has any hopes of reaching their first Final Four since 2001.

The Wildcats, who are 25-3 on the season, have substantially outperformed their preseason +4000 odds. Sophomore forward Azuolas Tubelis, who has thrived in his last nine games (17.6 ppg and 7.7 rbg), has emerged as Tommy Lloyd’s pivotal piece to a potential second National Championship in program history (1997).

No. 3 Baylor (25-5 SU, 16-12-2 ATS)

Opening Odds: +1600 / Current Odds: +1400

Despite losing starting center Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (knee) for the season, the defending national champion Bears have shown the heart of the champion. 

Baylor, who is in a fight with Kansas for the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 tournament, has now entered the discussion for a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament after posting impressive wins over No. 6 Kansas and No. 21 Texas.

The Bears receive balanced scoring production with three players averaging double-digit scoring, but it's the improved play of Jeremy Sochan and Flo Thamba on the frontline that makes the Bears +1400 odds one of the best double-digit values on the board. Baylor, who has played the last four games without leading scorer LJ Cryer, will only get stronger once he is able to return from a nagging foot injury.

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Duke forward Paolo Banchero (5) celebrates with forward AJ Griffin (21) after scoring against Syracuse during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022.

No. 4 Duke (25-4 SU, 16-11-2 ATS)

Opening Odds: +1600 / Current Odds: +1200

The Blue Devils fly into the top five after posting six consecutive wins. Freshman Paolo Banchero continues to fill up the box score, but it's the recent play of sophomore big man Mark Williams that gives Duke's odds of +1200 real value. Williams has become a force on the block, which has translated in tremendous ball spacing on the offensive end. One of the players to capitalize is freshman Trevor Keels (11.7 ppg), who has notched double-digits in scoring in six of his last eight games.

Duke is playing like a squad determined to send off retiring Mike Krzyzewski with a potential sixth National Championship. Up first will be holding off Notre Dame and North Carolina for the No. 1 seed in next week’s ACC Tournament.

No. 5 Auburn (25-4 SU, 18-10-1 ATS)

Opening Odds: +4000 / Current Odds: +1000

After earning the No. 1 ranking in national polls for the first time in school history several weeks ago, Auburn has now lost three of its last six games. The Tigers remain in the top five in the polls on the strength of a bigger picture that sees a 23-3 SU mark since losing to No. 18 UConn in November.

Auburn holds a one-game lead over Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee for the No. 1 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament. Freshman forward Jabari Smith (16.6 ppg) is the player Bruce Pearl’s club will rely on in March. Smith has shown no signs of hitting the “freshman wall,” averaging 25.3 points per game over the last four games. However, Smith will need more consistent support from players like Wendell Green. The sophomore guard, who is the club’s third-leading scorer, shot just 16.5% combined from the field in Auburn’s recent losses against Florida and No. 13 Tennessee.

No. 6 Kansas (23-5 SU, 13-14-1 ATS)

Opening Odds: +2500 / Current Odds: +1200

The Jayhawks have the dubious distinction of joining Kentucky and Purdue as the only teams ranked inside the top ten that own a losing ATS record. In fact, over the last 14 games Kansas is 11-3 SU but has posted a correlated 6-8 ATS mark.

‘Rock Chalk’ continues to lean heavily on the production of senior guard Ochai Ogbaji (20.4 ppg) who ranks 11th in the nation in three-point shooting, converting at a 43.3 % clip. Christian Braun (15.3 ppg) and Jalen Wilson (10.6 ppg) are the other two Jayhawks averaging double-digit scoring. Kansas needs senior forward David McCormack to provide consistent scoring and rebounding if the Jayhawks have any hope of winning the Big 12 Championship and earning a No. 1 tournament seed.

No. 7 Kentucky (23-6 SU, 13-15-1 ATS)

Opening Odds: +2000 / Current Odds: +800

The Wildcats are 12-3 in their last 15 games, but have suffered two of those losses in their last four games. Kentucky is 2-5 vs ranked teams and will need a strong showing in the SEC Tournament to secure a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats receive balanced scoring offense with four players averaging double-digits, led by junior forward Oscar Tshiebwe (16.9 ppg, 15.3 rbg). Projected NBA lottery pick TyTy Washington's nagging leg injury resulted in only 14 combined points in losses to No. 13 Tennessee and No. 14 Arkansas. The Wildcats clearly need the talented Washington to get healthy or John Calpari’s club will not have the firepower needed to add more championship banners to the rafters of Rupp Arena.

No. 8 Purdue (24-5 SU, 13-14-2 ATS)

Opening Odds: +2000 / Current Odds: +1000

The Boilermakers, who have lost to Michigan and Michigan State in recent weeks, now trail Wisconsin by a full game for the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

Purdue’s biggest issue in both of those losses is inconsistent three-point shooting. After shooting a paltry 22% from deep in the 24-point loss to Michigan, the Boilermakers shot 11.1% from behind the arc in the loss to the Spartans. Purdue’s championship aspirations will heavily rely upon the talents of point guard Jaden Ivey (17.3 ppg). The supporting cast around Ivey will have to contribute more or Matt Painter’s crew could be a team that could be upset in the early rounds.

No. 9 Providence  (24-3 SU, 16-11 ATS)

Opening Odds: +50000 / Current Odds: +6600

Ed Cooley and the Friars made history last week when Providence won the Big East regular season title for the first time in school history. The Friars are one of the hottest teams in the country, winning 19 of its last 21 games.

Providence, who has secured the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament, is led by the senior leadership of center Nate Watson (14.0 ppg) down low on the block. Thanks to the sharp shooting of Jared Bynum (44.7%) and Noah Horchler (40.2%) from beyond the arc, the Friars hold the distinction of being the most disrespected team by oddsmakers. Even the analytics of KenPom believe this team is just a “mirage,” ranking 31st in adjusted offense and 60th in adjusted defense. Providence continues to defy “the numbers” and will be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament.

No. 10 Wisconsin (23-5 SU, 16-12 ATS)

Opening Odds: +2500 / Current Odds: +4500

The Badgers, who are 6-1 in their last seven games, have overtaken No. 8 Purdue and No. 20 Illinois for a potential No. 1 seed in next week’s Big Ten Tournament. Tuesday’s home tilt with the Boilermakers could likely decide who earns the top spot.

Sophomore guard Johnny Davis, who ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring at 20.5 points per game, is also one of best rebounding guards in the country leading the Badgers at 8.3 rebounds per game. After starting the year 12-5 ATS, Wisconsin has been difficult for bettors to trust posting a 4-7 ATS mark over their last 11 games.

Frankie Taddeo is a successful high-stakes fantasy football player who created the first-ever DFS program ever offered in a Las Vegas sportsbook. Frankie is SI Betting's Senior Analyst and provides his significant experience and resources in the sports betting scene. You can follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankie_Fantasy for his latest betting and fantasy insights from Las Vegas.

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