Title Chances in College Basketball: The Six Levels of Legitimate Contenders to Win the 2022 NCAA Tournament

Few sporting events are as difficult to predict as the NCAA tournament. The results are so wild and often so unexpected that they became a meme, seemingly before memes were a thing, a running joke about the person who won the office brace betting on their favorite colors or the cutest mascots.

Now amplify that feeling for those who try to go the extra mile in predicting outcomes.

The single-elimination nature of the NCAA tournament adds an element of randomness to the choice of the champion. Since 2004-05, the team has been chosen as the best overall seed to come in and has won the national title three times. And KenPom.com’s #1 team entering the tournament has only netted three times in nearly 20 years since the site was founded.

Here’s a rundown of the top contenders to win the NCAA tournament broken down by tiers, followed by the full odds of winning the NCAA tournament brought to you by Caesars Sportsbook.

Level 1: The Favorite

Team: Gonzaga (6-1)

Don’t look, but it’s still Gonzaga. The Bulldogs spent most of the 2020-21 season as the priceless favorite and more than two months into 2021-22, the No. 1 preseason team still has the best odds at 6-1. Of course, Gonzaga recently reclaimed his place at the top The Associated Press Top 25 poll, thanks to a seven-game winning streak. Last year’s team made it to the national championship game before falling just short; does this year’s Zags squad have what it takes to get the job done?

Level 2: Frontrunners

Plowing: Duke (9-1), Purdue (9-1), Baylor (11-1)

Three other teams have a better chance than 12-1 to hoist the trophy in April: defending champion Baylor (11-1), Duke (9-1) and Purdue (9-1). Two of those bets are better than the other right now: While Purdue has the nation’s top-ranked offense in modified offensive efficiency, according to KenPom, no national title winner since 2001-02 has won without a top 45 ranking in modified defensive efficiency. . in the tournament. The Boilermakers are currently there at No. 64; the defense will have to come along for Purdue to survive the strange night that every team faces in March and April.

Baylor started the season 15-0 before dropping the next two games at home, although both losses came without outstanding freshman Jeremy Sochan and the latter came down the stretch without point guard James Akinjo. Duke is seven points away from an undefeated record this year at 14-3 himself, and the Blue Devils might not be able to get their started until their recent starting lineup, one with former five-star prospect AJ Griffin joining the fold, gets used to playing together.

Level 3: Candidates with Value

Plowing: Kansas (12-1), Auburn (20-1), Illinois (25-1)

The odds makers don’t rather haven’t caught up with Auburn yet; CBS Sports’ own Gary Parrish argued for the Tigers atop his most recent Top 25 and 1, and Auburn has the ninth best chance of winning it all, 20-1. Kansas sits atop the Big 12 despite most of the competition without a healthy Remy Martin. With Martin expected back from a bone bruise to his knee, the Jayhawks have the profile of a potential favorite, but more reasonable odds of 12-1. And then there’s Illinois. The Fighting Illini top the Big Ten rankings even after Monday’s double loss to Purdue. And like Kansas, the Illini are getting a top player back, with Andre Curbelo playing his first game since November 23 and still dropping 20 points, six rebounds and three assists. When he gets up to speed, Illinois’ 25-1 chances may seem way too low.

Level 4: Talented teams with solid value

Plowing: Arizona (15-1), Kentucky (18-1)

Two of the nation’s most talented teams, and those with the most advantage, have similar odds: Arizona (15-1) and Kentucky (18-1). The two Wildcat teams have NBA talent, athleticism and height, and both can take out smaller teams by dominating on the offensive glass. One thing to keep an eye on with Arizona: how will Tommy Lloyd’s team – the nation’s fastest in average offensive possession – fare in March when there are fewer transition opportunities and the game slows down? Kentucky’s win over Tennessee was as impressive an attack as the college teams have seen this year. Kentucky’s ‘A’ game may be the best team in the country, but is Kentucky night in, night out that team? Gamblers waiting to pick either Wildcat squad could face worse odds if they delay and watch Kentucky or Arizona take off.

Level 5: Favorite Values

Plowing: Villanova (20-1), Wisconsin (40-1), Florida State (80-1), Oregon (80-1)

Parrish ranked Wisconsin third in his Top 25 and 1, and this Badger team has more dynamism than recent iterations, thanks to National Player of the Year nominee Johnny Davis. To get a potential top five team with a 40-1 chance? That’s pretty strong.

Villanova has better chances to win the title 20-1, and the Wildcats have one of the best backcourts in the country, with Collin Gillespie playing as the country’s best point guard and Justin Moore averaging 18.5 points. per game over his last four. Villanova has already been tested to the extreme and is only getting better, plus Jay Wright has two of the last five national titles.

Florida State and Oregon are bigger long shots, but both have great value to their roster and to coaches who managed to get their teams playing well in March. The Seminoles have reached at least the Sweet 16 in each of the last three NCAA tournaments, and after a rocky start, Florida State has won three games in a row. There’s still work to be done, but Leonard Hamilton and a talented, deep roster looks like a solid pick with an 80-1 chance.

Dana Altman’s team is proven on this point; after a 5-5 start, the Ducks have won six of their last seven, winning at UCLA and USC and playing Baylor tight before falling.

Both teams were ranked in the preseason for a reason, and both are worth keeping an eye on as their odds have plummeted and their basketballs have improved.

Level 6: Longshots to watch

Plowing: Seton Hall (60-1), UConn (60-1) Xavier (80-1), Iowa State (80-1)

While the aforementioned Florida State and Oregon certainly fall into this category—teams with a 60-1 chance or worse—three different Big East teams do so with solid resumes. Seton Hall and UConn have identical 60-1 chances as they boast both offenses and defenses ranked in KenPom’s top 40. UConn accomplished that feat playing four games and part of another without the great big man Adama Sanogo. All he’s done since his return has averaged 22 points, 17 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. And Xavier is a top 20 team with KenPom’s number 22 offense and number 30 defense; the Musketeers are a decent bargain at 80-1.

While Iowa State misses the attack of a national title contender, the Cyclones are 14-4 with wins over Texas Tech and Texas and small losses so far to Baylor and Kansas in Big 12 game – getting the Cyclones with an 80 chance -1 could be solid for a team that could run.

NCAA Tournament Odds 2021

Chance to Win Caesars Sportsbook 2022 NCAA Tournament

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