Bettors Tepid on Villanova Final Four Repeat

The Villanova Wildcats are +900 odds at online sportsbook 5Dimes to win the 2018-19 Final Four, fifth choice among Division I programs. Can head coach Jay Wright contend for his third championship in the last four years? The prospect appears dim given the amount of player turnover. The betting market is tepid on the team’s chances as well, the price rising from a +700 low in early June.

The Wildcats lost its four best players to the NBA Draft last month, Mikal Bridges (No. 10 overall, 76ers—later traded to Suns), Donte DiVincenzo (No. 17, Bucks), Omari Spellman (No. 30, Hawks) and National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson (No. 33, Mavericks). The foursome led Villanova in points last season, accounting for 70 percent (60.9 ppg) of all scoring output. This group was obviously special. It was just the second time in school history multiple picks were taken in the first round.

Wright’s Template

Wright’s ability to sustain and develop stars in college basketball’s one-and-done era is the current blueprint for success. Fellow bluebloods like Kansas, Duke, and Kentucky are finding it difficult to progress deep in the NCAA Tournament with constantly revolving starting lineups of youth, inexperience, and little leadership.

Villanova is in rebuild mode as far as Wright’s successful design goes. The long-time coach returns just three players from his seven-man rotation last season: seniors Eric Paschall (10.6 ppg), Phil Booth (10.0 ppg), and defensive specialist Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (3.1 ppg). Sophomore guard Collin Gillespie is the only other returnee to average double digits of courttime last year. Albany transfer Joe Cremo, who posted 17.8 points per game against much weaker competition (American East Conference), and a host of incoming recruits will have to mature quickly in the ultra-competitive Big East.

Top Recruiting Class

Wright is set to unveil his best frosh class ever, led by five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly. The future pro is set to become just the sixth freshman ever to run Wright’s offense, taking over for Brunson. Forwards Brandon Slater, Cole Swinder, and Saddiq Bey comprise the best of the new group.

Wright has attracted a top-10 recruiting class just two other times in his tenure: 2002 (Randy Foye, Allan Ray) and 2009 (Mouphtaou Yarou, Dominic Cheek). Neither bunch translated to immediate success. Both groups combined for a 164-99 SU record after four years with a single Sweet 16 appearance. Wright’s process takes time to develop, so expect the Cats to claw their way to the title game again soon. Not this season, however.

Here’s a look at updated odds for the 2018-19 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship at 5Dimes. Top-15 choices only:

 

School Odds (July 23) Odds (April 3)
Duke +550 +600
Kansas +650 +900
Gonzaga +700 +1800
Kentucky +800 +1000
Villanova +900 +800
Nevada +1000 +6000
North Carolina +1000 +1500
Virginia +2000 +1800
Michigan State +2500 +1800
Michigan +2800 +2000
Oregon +3500 +2500
West Virginia +4000 +3500
UCLA +4000 +3500
Auburn +4000 +3500
Tennessee +4500 +5000