Photo: Gerry Broome/ AP

While they were able to escape the 24.5 point underdog Wake Forest Demon Deacons’ upset bid down in Durham, 71-70, sans Zion Williamson, the fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils cannot escape the proverbial target that is on their backs.

Thanks to their much-hyped frosh trio of the forementioned Williamson, who is widely expected to be the top overall pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft, swingman R.J. Barrett and small forward Cam Reddish, the Duke Blue Devils are listed as 6-1 odds to win their sixth national title according to online betting site, Odds Shark.

Picked by many to cut down the nets at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the Blue Devils boast a star-studded lineup that may have their top three players go in the top five, or even one, two and three, depending on how the ping pong balls fall in the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery.

Other notable contenders such as Villanova (8/1), Kentucky (10/1), North Carolina (15/1), Virginia and Gonzaga (18/1), Kansas (10/1) and Tennessee (50/1) are listed as potential favorites as well by sports betting websites such as NCAA Betting in New Jersey, provided by 888sport USA

The always-loaded Wildcats boasts perhaps the most athletic team thanks to head coach John Caliperi, archrival—and defending national champion—North Carolina has a battle-tested head coach in Roy Williams and potential NBA lottery pick in Nasir Little, national title runner-up, Gonzaga has perhaps the best player in college hoops no one is talking about in Japanese small forward Rui Hachimura, while the Jayhawks and Volunteers have two of the best coaches in the tournament in Bill Self and Bruce Pearl to lead their young—yet talented teams deep into March.

And lets not forget about Jay Wright’s Villanova team, that is fresh off of a national title win two years ago and a determined and hungry Tony Bennett-led Virginia Cavaliers team looking to wash away the stain of being the first-ever No.1 seed to lose to a No.16

There are also perennial contenders such as Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans, the always-tough Indiana Hooisers led by another potential NBA lottery pick in guard Romeo Langford, Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orange and their infamous 2-3 zone, and then there are some dangerous sleepers such as defending MAC champion, Buffalo, Houston out of the American Athletic Conference, Murray State out of the Ohio Valley Conference, led by top-three loterry pick, Ja Morant

With conference tournaments and March Madness right around the corner, if you’re a bookie or avid sports gambler, be sure to keep an eye on these current odds as they are likely to fluctuate and change as teams advance.

While Williamson may be day-to-day due to his knee, don’t expect the favored Blue Devils to miss a beat, as they will only continue to gain more traction as the trendy pick once tournament play begins.

Also published on Medium.

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