It’s only one game, but Duke basketball showed how they could possibly be as dominant as Alabama’s football team. Oddsmakers were certainly impressed. After the Blue Devils dismantled Kentucky, 118-84, many sportsbooks lowered the team’s odds to win the National Championship.
Before the season, both Duke and the Wildcats were co-favorites to win the title at 5/1, according to Bovada. After the debut game for both teams at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis, Duke went to 3/1, while Kentucky’s increased to 11/2. The change was even more significant at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, where the Blue Devils are now 5/2 and the Wildcats went to 13/2. BetOnline has Duke at 7/2 and Kentucky at 11/2.
It’s ironic because neither team was ranked the top squad in the country. The AP Top 25 Men’s College Basketball Poll had Kansas as the preseason No. 1 team, with Kentucky No. 2, Gonzaga No. 3, and Duke No. 4.
Duke did get four of the 65 first-place votes in the weekly poll, but that should change dramatically when the next rankings come out on Monday.
Duke’s Potential Limitless
The Blue Devils were a 1.5-point underdog to Kentucky, but quickly showed why they could be the most dominant team in college basketball since the 1990 UNLV Running Rebels, who finished the regular season 30-0. They lost to Duke in the Final Four to ruin their chance to be the first team to go undefeated since the 1972 UCLA Bruins.
Achieving that feat is obviously rare, and that is reflected in the odds of a prop bet being offered by BetOnline. They have Duke going undefeated with the yes at +1000 and the no at -2500. The odds are little better for the team to be named a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The yes is -300, and the no is +200.
Against Kentucky on Tuesday, Duke went on a 21-3 run in the first half, and were up 59-42 at halftime. In the second half, the Blue Devils opened up the lead to as many as 37, and reached 100 points with seven minutes remaining.
Kentucky coach John Calipari was a little stunned after receiving one of his worst defeats in his career.
“If that is who they are, they aren’t going to lose many games,” Calipari said. “I haven’t lost faith in my guys. We’ve still got a good group.”
Trio of Freshman Dominating
Duke is lead by three talented first-year players; Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cameron Reddish. Barrett was the leading scorer with 33 points, while Williamson had 28, and Reddish 22. Their combined 83 points were one less than the entire Kentucky team scored in the game, and they spent a good portion of the second half watching from the bench after the win was secure.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski knew he had something special, but even he walked away amazed after their performance.
“They were magnificent,” Krzyzewski said. “To play this well on this stage, right away against Kentucky is surprising. I’m really proud of my freshmen.”