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AP Preseason Poll versus basketball betting favorites

The 2016–17 NCAA Division I men’s basketball rankings have been released by the Associated Press, so we might as well see how they stack up against the basketball betting favorites to win the NCAA men’s basketball championship 2016-2017, for the benefit of people betting on basketball.

The AP Top 25 Poll

1. Duke Blue Devils.
2. Kentucky Wildcats.
3. Kansas Jayhawks.
4. Villanova Wildcats.
5. Oregon Ducks.
6. North Carolina Tar Heels.
7. Xavier Musketeers.
8. Virginia Cavaliers.
9. Wisconsin Badgers.
10. Arizona Wildcats.
11. Indiana Hoosiers.
12. Michigan State Spartans.
13. Louisville Cardinals.
14. Gonzaga Bulldogs.
15. Purdue Boilermakers.
16. UCLA Bruins.
17. Saint Mary’s Gaels.
18. Connecticut Huskies.
19. Syracuse Orange.
20. West Virginia Mountaineers.
21. Texas Longhorns.
22. Creighton Blue Jays.
23. Rhode Island Rams.
24. Iowa State Cyclones.
25. Maryland Terrapins.

And now for the basketball betting favorites here at BetNow:

1. Duke Blue Devils +340.
2. Kentucky Wildcats +705.
3. Kansas Jayhawks +90.
4. Villanova Wildcats +127.
5. Oregon Ducks +1125.
6. Michigan State Spartans +1675.
7. Indiana Hoosiers +1825.
8. North Carolina Tar Heels +1925.
9. Wisconsin Badgers +2075.
10. Arizona Wildcats +2150.
11. Louisville Cardinals +2250.
12. Syracuse Orange +2550.
13. Virginia Cavaliers +2750.
14. Xavier Musketeers +2850.
15. Purdue Boilermakers +4550.
16. West Virginia +4850.
17. Connecticut Huskies +5050.
18. Maryland Terrapins +5050.
19. Iowa State +6050.
20. Texas +6650.
21. Gonzaga Bulldogs +7550.
22. UCLA Bruins +7850.
23. Saint Mary’s Gaels +20000.
24. Creighton Blue Jays +22000.
25. Rhode Island Rams +26000.

As basketball betting fans are no doubt very much able to observe and appreciate, at least as far as the top five teams are concerned, the Associated Press Poll and the odds are pretty much in harmony and agreement. Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Villanova, and Oregon are all in the first five spots and in the exact same order in both of these lists. Then things start to deviate between one and the other. For example, number 6 North Carolina drops to number 8 and Michigan State climbs all the way up to take that spot.

Similarly, number 7 Xavier falls many spots to number 14, while the Hoosiers go up a few places to claim the seventh rung. And so on and so forth, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. In any case, however, basketball betting fans should not hold the AP Poll as an article of faith. After all coaches themselves are not very firm believers in the predictions of the sportsball media. As the Longhorns’ second-year coach Shaka Smart said, “We’re a long way away from being in the top 25 right now.” As a matter of fact they landed in the 12 spot, even though they do have “a strong batch of freshmen with a budding star like Tevin Mack” as Brian Mull of NCAA.com rightfully points out. Then again, Mull does proceed to explain why the poll is a better predictor than many would like to give it credit for.

Just top mention a couple of interesting tidbits, “since 1984-85 there have been 776 teams ranked in the preseason poll. And 86 percent competed in the NCAA tournament.” In addition to that, “36 of the 44 No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament started the year in the preseason top 10” in the previous 11 seasons. The takeaway? Take with a grain of salt.