Duke's Title Odds Take Hit After Zion Williamson Injury

Duke's Title Odds Take Hit After Zion Williamson Injury

It was the explosion heard ’round the college basketball world, and it came from the shoe on Zion Williamson’s left foot. When the Duke star’s Nike high-top came apart just 36 seconds into Wednesday’s clash with North Carolina, the ramifications were felt all across the college basketball betting world and beyond.

And the results were immediate: the overwhelming betting favorites to win the national title, Duke’s odds to claim the crown grew a tad steeper in the wake of the blowout loss to the Tar Heels and the right knee sprain that knocked Williamson out of the game. Duke’s odds at Sugar House increased from +175 before the injury to +200 after the 88-72 loss, and other books followed suit.

Caesars Palace made a similar move, increasing Duke’s national championship odds from +200 to +250. FanDuel, which had listed Duke at +180, initially suspended national title futures as new odds were evaluated. The Williamson injury also improved the national odds of some other teams, with Gonzaga and Virginia each rising from +800 to +700 at Sugar House, and Kentucky rising from +1000 to +900.

Final Four Still Likely, But a Little Bit Less So

Duke has been the clear title favorite among bettors, with more than twice as much money bet on the Blue Devils than any other team at Caesars Palace and William Hill, according to ESPN. Prior to Wednesday, 20 percent of the money bet at William Hill on the college basketball national championship was on Duke.

Duke’s odds to make the Final Four also took a hit in the wake of the Williamson injury. Sugar House had listed the Blue Devils at -400 to reach the national semifinals before Wednesday night, and changed those odds to -305 afterward.

Nike is Duke’s official shoe, uniform and apparel provider. The sole of Williamson’s shoe seemed to separate from the rest of the shoe, leading the Duke star to fall to the floor. “We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery,” the company said in a statement. “The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”

A Bitter Loss in More Ways Than One

The Blue Devils, 9.5-point favorites entering the game, looked hapless without their best player. Duke failed to cover against the spread for the third straight game, and for the seventh time in their last 12 outings.

The leading candidate for national player of the year and the likely No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, Williamson has been enjoying a monster year for the Blue Devils. The 6-7, 284-pound forward is averaging 21.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, and shooting nearly 70 percent from the field.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters after the North Carolina game that Williamson’s sprain was mild, and that his knee was stable. Williamson walked off the court with a slight limp, but under his own power. Williamson’s status for Saturday’s game at Syracuse was expected to be updated later in the week.

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