College Basketball National Champion Odds Update: Purdue Leaps to the Top

Riley Thomas
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College Basketball National Champion Odds Update: Purdue Leaps to the Top

The early college basketball season is a time for learning, especially in a transfer portal era that fuels loads of annual roster turnover. Various anticipated non-conference clashes have caused big shifts at the top of rankings. For example, the Maui Invitational was a treat with five of KenPom's top nine teams. The Champions Classic also featured a doubleheader with 4 of KenPom's top 20 teams.

With plenty of must-see non-conference matchups taking place, we've learned quite a bit about the college basketball landscape in (about) only three weeks of play. FanDuel Sportsbook's college basketball national champion odds have undergone big changes.

Check out the latest national champion lines, followed by a breakdown of the top contenders.

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Purdue Boilermakers (+1000)

As previously mentioned, the Maui Invitational showcased some of the nation's top teams. The tournament had a March feel to it with powerhouses colliding in intense battles. Purdue took the cake. After taking down three consecutive top-11 opponents, including then-No. 4 Marquette in the title game, the Boilermakers felt like the no-brainer to take the top spot in the AP Top 25 Poll.

At 7-0 with several impressive non-conference wins, Purdue has become the favorite to win the national championship. They will have more opportunities to impress in the near future, including December 9's matchup with No. 23 Alabama and December 16's clash against No. 2 Arizona.

Zach Edey -- the reigning National Player of the Year -- has maintained his dominance with 21.9 points per game (PPG) and 10.7 rebounds per game (RPG). According to EvanMiya, Edey is the best player in the nation with a 10.17 Bayesian Performance Rating (BPR).

The Boilermakers also boast the fourth-best adjusted offensive efficiency and fifth-best adjusted defensive efficiency.

Improved guard play has taken Purdue to the next level early on this year. Lance Jones (10.3 PPG) and Braden Smith (13.0 PPG) are both double-digit scorers leading a solid backcourt. Plus, Smith ranks sixth in college basketball with a 7.59 BPR.

We know Edey will remain a force in the paint, but if Purdue continues to get exceptional guard play and efficient three-point shooting (42.8%), the Boilermakers could finally get over the hump in March.

Arizona Wildcats (+1300)

The Arizona Wildcats have been the big riser as they now have the second-shortest odds to cut down the nets. The Wildcats were the clear preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 -- they still are at +125, per FanDuel's college basketball conference odds. However, some doubted if Arizona could contend on the national stage. That question has been emphatically answered, led by the Cats' two top-25 wins and a road victory against then-No. 2 Duke.

As usual, Arizona features a terrific offense with KenPom's eighth-best adjusted offensive efficiency. The defense has drastically improved with the 8th-best efficiency, compared to 39th in 2022-23.

The Wildcats have transitioned to being a more balanced team instead of mostly relying on their frontcourt. They feature six double-digit scorers in Kylan Boswell (13.5 PPG), Keshad Johnson (13.3 PPG), Caleb Love (13.2 PPG), Oumar Ballo (12.0 PPG), Pelle Larsson (11.2 PPG), and Motiejus Krivas (10.3 PPG). Few teams in America can tout this kind of balance and versatility on offense, making Arizona a dangerous team for March Madness.

The offense averages the most points in college basketball at 95.3 PPG, and the Wildcats have showcased dominant performances with a +31.5 average score margin (second-best). Arizona has also done an excellent job of winning the possession battle as they are in the 91st percentile of forced turnovers per game and rank 2nd nationally in rebounds per game.

If the Wildcats exit their non-conference schedule unscathed, they could be in store for the best season yet under coach Tommy Lloyd. Surpassing 2021-22's 33-4 finish could be in the picture.

Marquette Golden Eagles (+1400)

The current top three national champion favorites simply follow the AP Top 25 Poll in order. The No. 3 Marquette Golden Eagles have the third-shortest odds at +1400. Following a 6-1 start -- which includes two top-25 wins -- Marquette remains the favorite to win the Big East (+195).

The Golden Eagles currently rank fifth in KenPom paired with the seventh-best adjusted offensive efficiency. They tout several elite stats on offense, including sitting in the 91st percentile in effective field goal percentage (eFG%) and the 97th percentile in two-point percentage.

Tyler Kolek (13.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 5.1 assists per game [APG]), Kam Jones (16.0 PPG), and Oso Ighodaro (13.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG) have been the dominant trio that most expected. Kolek leads the team with a 6.18 BPR, but Ighodaro's improvement has taken Marquette to another level.

Ighodaro is second on the team with a 5.81 BPR while touting a 1.99 Defensive Bayesian Performance Rating (DBPR), which is second on the team. Ighodaro is even earning first-round NBA Draft buzz following his dominant showing in the Maui Invitational.

The Golden Eagles' defense is also much improved thus far with the 15th-best mark in adjusted defensive efficiency (43rd last season).

With Ighodaro's improvement alongside one of the nation's best backcourts and the upgraded defense, Marquette looks like a true national championship contender.

Kansas Jayhawks (+1400)

After entering the season as the AP Poll's top-ranked team, Kansas has remained in the national title picture. The Jayhawks have had their fair share of challenging games thus far with contests against Kentucky, Marquette, and Tennessee.

Despite the 6-1 start, some could be pumping the brakes on the AP Poll's fifth-best team. Kansas lost by 14 points in Maui against Marquette, and they barely escaped with a win against Eastern Illinois as 38.5-point favorites (71-63) on November 28.

There could be some concern about Hunter Dickinson's high usage rate (21.7 PPG; 12.7 RPG). Dickinson and Kevin McCullar Jr. (18.1 PPG) account for 39.8 PPG; that's 49.1% of the Jayhawks' scoring production. Kansas could be looking to establish a more balanced scoring attack. Dajuan Harris Jr. is one player who needs to be more aggressive. The junior guard totaled 23 points against Kentucky. Since then, Harris is averaging only 4.3 PPG.

The Jayhawks currently rank 8th in KenPom with the 31st-best adjusted offensive efficiency. This is simply not a championship-level offense right now. Kansas could answer some concerns on Friday in a heavyweight clash against No. 4 UConn.

UConn Huskies (+1500)

Speaking of UConn, the defending national champions are still right in the thick of things. UConn has looked the part on nearly all fronts; the Huskies rank third in KenPom with the sixth-best adjusted offensive efficiency and ninth-best adjusted defensive efficiency.

Second-year center Donovan Clingan (15.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG) has done an excellent job of replacing Adama Sanogo, who averaged 17.2 PPG and 7.7 RPG in 2022-23. Clingan is EvanMiya's second-best player in the nation with an 8.52 BPR. He's been dominant on defense, owning the eighth-best DBPR while averaging 1.9 blocks per game (BPG).

UConn still has excellent guard play, too, with Cam Spencer -- the Rutgers transfer -- averaging 16.3 PPG, and Tristen Newton (15.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 6.9 APG) has been a stat-sheet-stuffer. The Huskies have five players who are averaging at least 14.5 PPG. This balanced attack gives Connecticut a legitimate shot of going back-to-back.

The Huskies have only one top-25 win against then-No. 15 Texas. UConn has the chance to impress with a top-five showdown against Kansas on Friday. This game could have a notable impact on KU's and UConn's national championship odds.


College basketball has 362 teams. Of course, there are far more than five championship contenders -- especially this early into the season.

Duke, Tennessee, and Houston are carrying the same odds as UConn at +1500. The Blue Devils have dipped some following a home loss against then-No. 12 Arizona on November 10, but Duke still ranks ninth in adjusted offensive efficiency. They are led by Kyle Filipowski (18.8 PPG; 8.0 RPG), who is EvanMiya's third-best player.

Tennessee is spearheaded by an outstanding defense that leads the nation in efficiency, but the offense needs work (53rd in efficiency).

Houston could bring the best value right now. The Cougars lead the nation in KenPom while ranking in the top 10 of adjusted offensive and defensive efficiencies. Houston's non-conference schedule has been lacking, though, with no top-25 opponents. The Cougars will get their first tough test on December 16 against No. 14 Texas A&M.

Creighton fell to +2000 following an upset loss against Colorado State. Kentucky is one of the big risers of the week after their dominant 95-73 win over No. 8 Miami.

Looking for more college basketball betting opportunities? Head over to FanDuel Sportsbook to check out all of the upcoming college basketball odds.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.