The 2022-23 college basketball season does not kick off until the first week of November, but it is never too early to take a look at some March Madness predictions.
Gonzaga (+750)Let’s start with the preseason favorites to win the NCAA tournament, the Gonzaga Bulldogs. This is familiar territory for Gonzaga and bettors alike, as the Zags have been at or near the top of the preseason odds for the last three or four seasons. Unfortunately for both, they have yet to seal the deal.
Mark Few enters the season once again, boasting one of the best big men in the nation in fourth-year player Drew Timme. Time-averaged over 18 points to go along with 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists last season en route to winning the West Coast Conference player of the year.
Deep threats Rasir Bolton and Julian Strawther return as perimeter scorers while potential NBA lottery pick Nolan Hickman takes over primary point guard duties. As if that isn’t enough, Chattanooga Mocs standout guard Malachi Smith has decided to join the Zags after averaging roughly 14 points, six rebounds, and two and half assists per game in two seasons for Lamont Paris.
There is no value in a losing bet; Gonzaga deserves at least a sprinkle of your wagers.
North Carolina (+850)While the preseason odds aren’t exactly sexy at 8.5-1, this is likely the best bet to win the title. The Heels have it all in terms of guard play, rebounding, coaching, and shooting.
Hubert Davis’ team got red hot down the stretch last season and only lost two games after February 16th. The first was against a determined Virginia Tech team in the ACC semifinals, while the second was of course, the national championship game against the Kansas Jayhawks.
Pete Nance transfers into the program from Northwestern and will look to fill the void left by Brady Manek. Nance is another good shooting big man that should thrive in Carolina’s pick-and-pop offense after shooting 45% on 93 attempts last season.
This is obviously a reach, but the Tigers are worth mentioning. If there is one thing that all teams with championship aspirations need, it’s guard play, and Bruce Pearl has plenty of it. Juniors Wendell Green and K.D. Johnson both returns after stellar seasons, with Zep Jasper, will return to back them up.
Walker Kessler left some huge shoes to fill, but Morehead State transfer Johni Broome may very well be up to the task. Broome averaged a double-double last season with nearly 17 points and 11 rebounds per game. The 6’10 big man was also the OVC Defensive Player of the Year after averaging 3.9 blocks per game and totaling 131 on the season.
Also returning are key cogs Jaylin Williams and Allen Flanigan, along with a talented incoming freshman class. Bruce Pearl’s squad could very well be the surprise team in March after enduring the gauntlet that is SEC conference play.
One of the biggest stories of the offseason was the exodus that took place in Austin. While Andrew Jones, Courtney Ramey, Devin Askew, and Tre Mitchell all left the program, there is still a ton of talent for Chris Beard to play with.
High-scoring point guard Marcus Carr returns after a somewhat disappointing season, while the frontcourt remains loaded with talent as Timmy Allen, Christian Bishop, and Dylan Disu all return. Disu is the player to watch of this trio, as he struggled mightily last season after averaging 15 points and nine rebounds for Vanderbilt in 2020-21.
The Longhorns also welcome top-20 recruits Dillon Mitchell and Arterio Morris to go along with former Iowa State star Tyrese Hunter. Hunter averaged 11 points, 4.9 assists, and 3.5 rebounds as a freshman last season and will look to fill the void left by Ramey.