Gonzaga schedules better than anyone else in the non-conference part of its schedule. We’ve seen why already this season.
Gonzaga has played two great opponents and blasted them both. First, Texas was not competitive in a very early game at Spokane. Then a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup on Wednesday solidified Gonzaga as the clear favorite to win a championship.
The Bulldogs faced UCLA in a hyped rematch of one of the great NCAA tournament games of all-time last season, and the Bruins were never a factor in the game. UCLA was down 29-8 10 minutes into the game. Gonzaga won 83-63.
There’s no discussion at all about which team is No. 1. BetMGM’s odds reflect that.
Gonzaga is the clear favorite
Gonzaga has dropped to +450 to win the championship as of Wednesday morning at BetMGM. Duke, UCLA, Villanova, Kansas and Purdue are tied for the second-lowest odds.
There are a few ways to look at Gonzaga’s odds compared to the rest of the field. The hot start from Gonzaga, which was +600 to win it all before the season, might open up value on other teams. If you like a deep Purdue team or talented UCLA to live up to their preseason hype by March, you’re getting a good number. That’s what happens when there’s one overwhelming favorite. That’s how some ended up getting a good number with Baylor last March.
The other side is that if you have been impressed with Gonzaga — and why wouldn’t you be, after the Texas and UCLA performances — and you didn’t grab a championship future on them yet, the odds might keep getting shorter. The Bulldogs were a ridiculous -225 to win it all before the Final Four last season. The same steady dive might happen again if Gonzaga cruises through the season.
Then again, maybe you wait to see what happens on Friday when Gonzaga plays Duke.
Gonzaga-Duke is a great showdown
Gonzaga-UCLA was billed as the game of the non-conference schedule, but maybe it’s another Gonzaga game this week.
Duke is 6-0, with an impressive win over Kentucky to start the season. Duke is deep, with a good mix of freshman blue-chip talent and high-end veterans. The Blue Devils can match up with Gonzaga.
There’s a scenario in which the narrative of the early season shifts from Gonzaga’s dominance to Duke being worthy of the No. 1 spot in the rankings. A Duke win would shift the odds, if you want to gamble on Gonzaga getting a little more value after they lose.
Of course, perhaps Gonzaga wrecks Duke like it did to Texas and UCLA, and the conversation shifts to whether the Bulldogs can go into a second straight tournament with a perfect record. At this point, there’s a great reason Gonzaga is the runaway favorite. Anyone who watched them dismantle UCLA would have a hard time arguing.