The Villanova Wildcats’ March madness odds of winning back-to-back NCAA national championships are good but not great. As a matter of fact, Duke, Kansas and North Carolina are the March madness betting favourites to win the 2017 NCAA tournament, all ahead of Nova. However, it would seem as if history, more than odds, is against Villanova. Since the first NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament in 1939 there have been only seven repeat champions:
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (then known as Oklahoma A&M College) 1945, 1946
- Kentucky Wildcats 1948, 1949
- San Francisco Dons 1955, 1956
- Cincinnati Bearcats 1961, 1962
- UCLA Bruins 1964, 1965; 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973
- Duke Blue Devils 1991, 1992
- Florida Gators 2006, 2007
Not only are repeat championships few and far between, but the most recent came a decade ago. The Gators do provide one example of how history is on the Wildcats’ side, though; Nova is the first defending champion to earn the overall top seed in the NCAA tournament since Florida. Additionally, Villanova has the fewest losses entering the NCAA Tourney by a defending national champion since the Blue Devils lost thrice in 2001-02; spent eight weeks at the No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 poll (including the last week of the regular season); won their fourth straight Conference regular season championship; and won their fifth Conference tournament championship and second in the last three years.
All of that is to say that despite what the March madness odds say, the Wildcats are just as good, if not even better than last year. By way of example, Villanova lost the 2016 Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament title game to Seton Hall; this year they knocked off the Pirates in the semis and beat Creighton in the championship game. Does this make them march madness betting favourites? Not necessarily, but it does lend credence to the theory they have improved from last season, something which was not thought possible.
The five Florida starters from the 2006 championship-winning team returned in 2007, including Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer – all three of whom have found a niche in the NBA. For the Wildcats, Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, and Jalen Brunson returned to lead the team. Hart is a two-time First-team All-Big East, was the 2015 Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player and Big East Sixth Man of the Year, and was recently named the 2017 Big East Player of the Year. Brunson was named to the 2016 Big East All-Freshman Team and the 2017 First-team All-Big East. Jenkins’s contributions are also legion, but he will always be remembered for the NCAA title-winning the game-winning three-pointer. Head coach Jay Wright is another familiar face, leading the Wildcats to four Big East regular championships, two conference titles, and 12 NCAA Tournament appearances in 16 years, as well as two Sweet 16s and one Final 4 in addition to last season’s national championship. March madness odds aside, Villanova is a perfect march madness betting storm.