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Top 10 best bets to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship

1 November 2021

We are just eight days away from the 2021-2022 college basketball season tipping off. Last year, the Baylor Bears took control of the championship game early and never looked back, resulting in the 86-70 victory over the Gonzaga Bulldogs for the title.

Obviously, last year’s March Madness tournament was quite different with limited capacity for fans, but hopefully this year’s bracket-style competition that is affectionately known as March Madness will have the normal chaos that we’ve all become accustomed to.

Here, we take a look at some teams we think can cut down the final net inside the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans when the dust settles at this year’s Final Four. The odds are according to Intertops Sportsbook.

10. Kentucky (16-to-1)
Known for being a team filled with “one-and-done” players, the Kentucky Wildcats actually have some transfers making their way to the team.

Kellan Grady played at Davidson last season where he averaged 17.1 points per game and shot 38.2% from the 3-point line. Grady is accompanied by CJ Frederick, who was at Iowa last year and averaged 7.5 points per game, but proved to be a sharp-shooter from outside the arc, draining 47.4% of his treys. The Wildcats have struggled to shoot the ball the last few seasons. But adding these two perimeter players will open up the floor for other guards to attack the basket.

The most important transfer is from West Virginia in Oscar Tshiebwe. The 6-foot-9 center averaged nearly a double-double in 2019, but last season his year was cut short as he left West Virginia mid-season. He is ready to play again and join this new-look Kentucky team that can really make some noise this season.

9. Gonzaga (7.5-to-1)
This may come to a surprise to some people, having the No. 1 preseason ranked team this low on my list, but I have my reasons. Gonzaga is also the favorite to win this year’s title. The Zags bring back two key players in Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard and the team also added the No. 1 recruit in 7-foot Chet Holgren. I still think the Gonzaga Bulldogs will be a very good team and have a chance to make another deep run.

The most important thing about the team this year is what they are not bringing back. The Bulldogs lost Joel Ayayi, Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs to the NBA and all three players averaged double figures last year.

Ayayi was a menace on defense, Kispert could knock down a jumper from anywhere inside the arena and Suggs was the playmaker and quarterback of the offense. Without these three I think it becomes tough for them to bring home a title, but because of their returning core, mainly Timme, that is why they crack my list.

8. Illinois (20-to-1)
Losing Ayo Dosunmu is obviously a major loss to the Fighting Illini, but luckily for them, their backup point guard showed he is the real deal last year.

Andre Curbelo is returning for his sophomore season at Illinois and will likely be the guy running the offense and with the ball in his hands a lot of the time. If he worked on his 3-point shooting this offseason then he will have developed the last piece of the puzzle for his game. Pair that young talent with the massive Kofi Cockburn, who returns after averaging 17.17 points and 9.5 rebounds last year. The 7-footer weighs in at 285 points and is an unmovable force inside the paint and extremely hard to drive and score on because of his rim-protecting presence.

The Illini also have some veteran seniors who have made major impacts on games as well. Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams will be back on the floor for the team and their experience can help them in a big way come tournament time.

7. Michigan (9-to-1)
Similar to Gonzaga, Michigan lost several key players when Isaiah Livers, Franz Wanger and Mike Smith left after last year. There was a chance that center Hunter Dickinson, the team’s leading scorer, would head to the NBA but after deciding against that, he is back for another year.

Dickinson will play again with Eli Brooks, who is a solid defender and good shooter from behind the arc. The key to this Wolverines team is the new faces coming from high school. Caleb Houstan, the second-best small forward in this year’s class joins the team with Moussa Diabate, the No. 5 power forward, and Frankie Collins, the No. 6 point guard.

The young guys will depend on Brooks and Dickinson for leadership and the success of the team will depend on how quickly the freshman can adjust to the next level.

6. North Carolina (33-to-1)
UNC is one of my “longer-shots” to win March Madness this year. The North Carolina Tarheels are returning, who I think can be the big man of the year, Armando Bacot. Bacot averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds per game but had a lot of minutes split with Garrison Brooks and Day’Ron Sharpe.

This year, Bacot will be the guy to dominate the paint for the Tarheels and I predict him having a major season. UNC is also returning Caleb Love, Leaky Black and R.J. Davis, who all played significant minutes for the team and will be major factors for the team.

Carolina brought in Dawson Garcia, who transferred from Marquette after averaging just north of 13 points per game a year ago. The 6-foot-11 forward can score from all three phases of the game and will add a big hustle boost to the team.

5. Purdue (16-to-1)
It’s as if the Purdue Boilermakers are bringing back every key player from last season. Oh wait, that is exactly what is happening.

Brandon Newman, Eric Hunter Jr., Zach Edey, Sasha, Stefanovic and Jaden Ivey are all back this year. But I can’t forget, who I think will be Big Ten Player of the Year, Trevion Williams. Williams averaged 15 points and 9 boards a game last season and if you watched his games, he is an absolute force and one of the better passing big men out of a double team that I watched in all of 2020-2021.

Returning this many players, in a year where many transferred, is what may be the key to this team’s success. Ivey is an explosive scorer who is able to run the offense successfully. Add that skill to the big men of Williams of Edey, then throw the role players on top of all of that and you have a pretty good recipe for a winning team.

4. Kansas (20-to-1)
The Kansas Jayhawks lost their leader and best defender, Miles Garrett, but the team is bringing back several players who can fill the rim.

Ochai Agabji already seems to have an NBA-skillset offensively. He can take it off the dribble to the basket or stop on a dime and pull up to knock down a jumper with a hand in his face. David McCormack, Jalen Wilson and Christian Braun also all come back to the team this year. Remy Martin transferred to Kansas this offseason from Arizona State and he has lightning-quick speed and can score in bunches, averaging just shy of 20 points per game last year.

The one position that Kansas lacks more in than others is the center position so it will be interesting to see how they play this year if they go more small ball.

3. UCLA (12-to-1)
UCLA had an offseason like Purdue. The Bruins bring back nearly all of the key players on the roster.

Johnny Juzang, who had an incredible March Madness tournament run, is back alongside, Tyger Campbell, Jules Bernard, Cody Riley and Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Last year, there wasn’t really much of a true center who could make his presence known and felt in the paint like some other big centers around the league. That will change for UCLA this year as Myles Johnson has transferred from Rutgers to play for the Bruins this season. Johnson was a force inside and protected the rim very well with 2.4 blocks per game.

This returning core getting Johnson added to the team will be a major boost.

2. Villanova (14-to-1)
The Villanova Wildcats lost their leading scorer Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to the NBA in this year’s offseason but that is not the story for this team. The headline is Collin Gillespie coming back for what should be his final round with the team. Gillespie spent some time at the end of the season on the sidelines with an injury but is back with Justin Moore, Jermaine Samuels and Caleb Daniels who all played major roles a year ago.

They’ve had the shooters, they’ve had the scorers and defenders but the Wildcats struggled against true centers last season because of the lack of size, but this year, they bring in freshman Nnanna Njoku who is a 6-foot-9, 270-pound center from Delaware to fix that issue.

1. Texas (16-to-1)
Many may not recognize the Texas Longhorns when they take the floor for the first time. Matt Coleman III, Greg Brown III, Jericho Sims and Kai Jones are all gone. However, this team still has incredible potential and are my pick to win it all.

Many big names transferred around the country after last year and several of them landed on choosing Texas as their destination. Devin Askew played for Kentucky where he averaged 6.5 points and 3 assists per game, but the best part of his game is his on-ball defense. He is quick and has great hands to disrupt the passing lanes. Timmy Allen comes over from Utah where he averaged 17 points per game in each of the last two seasons. He has the ability to create his own shot and hid mid-range game is an issue for defenders. Former UMass center Tre Mitchell adds some size to the Longhorns at 6-foot-9. Mitchell put up 19 points and 7 rebounds per game last season for the Atlantic 10 team and also showed he can shoot by hitting threes at a 37.5% clip. Last, but definitely not least, Marcus Carr left Minnesota to go to Texas. Carr dropped 19.4 points per game along with 5 assists per game. Carr is a great player to watch because when he starts to heat up, it is over for the defense.

All of these promising transfers are added onto a roster with last year’s leading scorer for Texas, Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey who also averaged over 12 a game.
Top 10 best bets to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at daniel@casinocity.com, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.
Dan Ippolito
As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at daniel@casinocity.com, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.