Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas on Monday night tabbed Duke as a 5-to-1 favorite to win the national championship next season. Villanova got 8-to-1 odds to win it all, as did Kansas and Kentucky.
This was one of the more convincing title runs in recent memory, with Villanova becoming the first team to win each of its six games by double figures since North Carolina in 2009. During a tournament that was anything but chalk, the Wildcats were favorites to get to where they were Monday night, and they followed through. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jay Wright’s program right back in the Final Four, to be played at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis a year from now, even if juniors Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges declare for the NBA draft as expected.
But Wright — who has never had a one-and-done player — will still have a loaded roster that can contend. That was clear on Monday night against the Wolverines, when sixth man Donte DiVincenzo came off the bench and dominated, scoring 31 points to capture the Final Four’s most outstanding player award.
Not only will Villanova return one of the most versatile front courts in the country next season in Eric Paschall and Omari Spellman, it will be able to move DiVincenzo into a starting role on the perimeter next to junior Phil Booth, a Baltimore native lauded by Wright for helping keep his team steady as Michigan raced to a seven-point lead early on Monday night. Villanova also has a reliable freshman guard in Collin Gillespie, who helped spell Brunson late in the second half due to foul trouble.
That rotation will be complemented by the country’s 12th-best recruiting class, according to 247sports.com, which was bolstered when former Arizona commit Jahvon Quinerly pledged to Villanova in February. The class also includes four-star power forward Cole Swider, the top player in Rhode Island, as well as Brandon Slater, who hails from Paul VI Catholic in Fairfax.
Duke, of course, has the top-rated recruiting class ahead of next season, polishing its ranking after snagging Philadelphia-area native Cameron Reddish last September, and big man Zion Williamson, a native of South Carolina, in January. Wright had chased Reddish hard, even though the five-star prospect didn’t necessarily fit the typical bill of the Villanova program.
The Wildcats will likely lose one of their former McDonald’s all-Americans in Brunson this offseason, as well as one of their long-term projects in Bridges, who once was not even a top-80 recruit in high school, but found himself finishing with 19 points on college basketball’s biggest stage on Monday night. There were six different redshirts on Villanova’s roster this season, including DiVincenzo, who helped run the scout team during the 2016 title run and whose brilliant performance on Monday night only left odds-makers more confident in the Wildcats to potentially repeat in 2019.