With Grayson Allen officially returning for his junior season, Duke has four of its top five scorers returning from 2016 to join a freshman class that ranks No. 2 in the country and is headlined by Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum — a pair of players that potentially could be the top two picks in the 2017 NBA Draft.
That kind of power heading into next season has made Duke the No. 1 team in our CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 (and one) for 2016-17.
It comes as no surprise then that the oddsmakers have made Duke the favorite to win the national title in 2017. The top four teams listed on the odds board actually match Gary Parrish’s Top 25 (and one), with Kentucky, Villanova and Kansas following the Blue Devils.
These odds will change throughout the offseason with the various developments in the 2016-17 outlook. Players will still have until late May to make final decisions about leaving early for the NBA, for example, and Duke still could add one more blue chipper to its 2016 recruiting class.
Taking the knee-jerk aspect of this in mind, a few notes about the initial odds offering:
1. There’s not a ton of distance between Duke and Kentucky. The presence of so many returning players makes Duke the obvious nod here, but Kentucky’s 2016 recruiting class may be the best of the John Calipari era. No one wants to bet on that prediction in April, but it might end up being an accepted fact a year from now.
2. Villanova’s not going anywhere. Jay Wright finally reached the mountaintop with his first national title but that doesn’t mean Villanova is going to fall back to a team that’s breathing a sigh of relief just to make it out of the first weekend. Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu are going to be tough to replace, but Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and title-game hero Kris Jenkins give the Wildcats more than enough to compete on the biggest stage.
3. Looking for value? How about Xavier at 25-1. The Musketeers tied the school record for regular-season wins (26) while spending 13 straight weeks in the AP Top 10 last season and bring back three huge pieces to their success: Edmond Sumner, Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura (if he can keep his pants up).