P. J. Go | Fri 15/12/2017 - 06:03 EST

NCAA Basketball Futures: Duke vs MSU, a Two-Horse Race?

NCAA Basketball Futures: Duke vs MSU, a Two-Horse Race?

Duke and MSU: Early NCAA Basketball Favourites

We're already a month into the college season. With most teams having played around ten games, we're getting a clearer picture of how the preseason's predictions are holding up. Oddsmakers opened Futures betting with a four-way tie: Duke, Louisville, Kansas (KU), and Kentucky (UK) all at +650 but only Duke stayed on top. 

Duke is tied with Michigan State University (MSU) at +450 (odds courtesy of Sports Interaction) as oddsmakers' choice to win it all. With both teams featuring coaches with championship pedigrees and a lineup of top-rated prospects, they're a lock to qualify for the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament a.k.a. "March Madness" but only one team can lift the trophy. 

My Team's Next MatchCalgary Stampeders

Meet the Duke Blue Devils: Why They're Favourites

The Blue Devils play as part of college basketball's most renowned conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), which features five programs with a national title from the 2000s. Duke has made a staggering 33-straight NCAA Tournament appearances (40 in total), 11 title games, and five championships. It's thanks to the mastermind: "Coach K", Mike Krzyzewski.

Krzyzewski spearheads a program that always lands top recruits. This year, the team features five top-50 rated prospects led by a pair of freshmen: 6'11" Marvin Bagley who is projected to be a top-three NBA draft pick and the top-rated power forward, and 6'10" Wendell Carter, the top PF/C prospect. The twin towers are combining to average 34 points and 20 rebounds and shoot over 61 per cent from the field. 

The team's heart and soul belongs to the man every non-Dukie loves to hate, senior guard Grayson Allen whois second on the team with 17.2 points. Other elite freshmen prospects include shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. (6'6", 13 points per game) and point guard Trevon Duval (6'2", 12.3 points, team-leading 6.7 assists). 

Duke currently sits at no. 4 in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll. Joining them are conference rivals, Miami (6), North Carolina (7), Virginia (16), and Florida State (19). Duke got upset by the unranked Boston College and none of the other four has played conference games. Expect big shakeups once the season gets deeper and despite how stacked Duke is, they have a tough conference to conquer. 

Meet the Michigan State Spartans: Why They're Favourites

The Spartans are part of the Big Ten Conference and have made 31 total NCAA tournament appearances including 20 straight beginning 1998. Coached by Tom Izzo, now in his 23rd year, the Spartans won the 2000 NCAA tournament and were runner-ups in 2009. They've made nine total Final Four appearances including seven during Izzo's era.

MSU currently has two top-20 ranked prospects. Freshman Jaren Jackson Jr. is a 6'11" power forward and the second-highest rated in that spot just after Bagley. He's currently filling up the stat sheet with 10.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3 blocks a game. The team's leading scorer, sophomore forward Miles Bridges got hurt but was averaging 15.6 points to go with 6.9 rebounds. 

MSU doesn't boast the same blue-chip prospects as Duke but they have the experience edge with most of their top players being sophomores or older.

Small forward Nick Ward has filled in nicely averaging 13.7 points on just 17.6 minutes and at a whopping 64.1 field goal per cent. Soph guard Cassius Winston has been a key piece for the Spartans averaging 12.7 points and a team-leading 6.7 assists a game.

The Spartans are number-two in both the polls with only Purdue (17) from the Big Ten joining them. The Spartans are 2-0 in conference play and 9-1 with their only loss to former top-ranked Duke. Teams like Minnesota and archrivals Michigan remain threats in the conference with Maryland as a potential sleeper. 

NCAA Basketball Futures: Other Contenders

Outside Duke and MSU, other teams are worth keeping an eye on. Kansas (13) is +1000 and Kentucky (8) is +1400. KU doesn't have any top-25 prospects but they are a savvy veteran team with plenty of talent and this could come handy during the tournament. UK is on the opposite end with up to five prospects within the top-35 but they're mostly freshmen.

Duke's archnemesis and last year's champions, UNC are at +1800 but don't have the high-calibre talent they had last season when they lost their stars to the NBA. 2016's champions Villanova are just behind Duke and MSU at +750. Junior Mikal Bridges is having a breakout year as the Wildcats aim to do better than last season's second-round exit.

Betting On NCAA Basketball

College basketball is more than just about March Madness. True basketball lovers within Canada have plenty of options from these Canadian-serving online sportsbooks. Each book comes with its own set of promotions and limitations so be sure to give each a thorough review.  

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