Gonzaga Favored by Oddsmakers, AP Poll

Gonzaga Bulldogs NCAA Logo Hunter Sallis

  • Oddsmakers favor Gonzaga as preseason national titlist
  • Tigers’ futures crest after signing Emoni Bates and Jalen Durden
  • Coach K’s farewell tour has Blue Devils’ odds on familiar pace

Coach Mark Few’s Gonzaga Bulldogs are tabbed No. 1 in the opening Associated Press college basketball poll of the season, and the Bulldogs are also favored to cut down the nets in New Orleans on April 4, 2022, as they are currently catching (+600) odds from most online sportsbooks.

Gonzaga was dismantled, 86-70, by Baylor in last season’s national championship game, but the Zags return Andrew Timme to the paint with Andrew Nembhard set for the point as two key features after they lose Corey Kispert, Jalen Suggs, and Joel Ayayi to the NBA.

Few also brings in the national prep player of the year in 7-1 center Chet Holmgren with a pair of 5-star freshmen in guards Nolan Hickman and Hunter Sallis.

The Bulldogs started with (+700) odds when the numbers were released in August, and the oddsmakers have shown confidence in Few to finally win his first national championship.

The Bulldogs have also seen their lowest rating at (+500) heading into the season. Last year, Gonzaga started at (+800) and moved to as low as (+300) before the WCC and NCAA Tournaments.

Roar in the Mid-South

Earlier, Michigan had the best odds (+1200) to oppose Gonzaga for the national championship, but now Memphis looks like a Final Four. The Tigers coach, Penny Hardaway, signed two 5-star players in August in power forward Jalen Duran and guard Emoni Bates.

The Tigers sit behind the Bulldogs as they are posting (+850) early on while they come in a distant No. 12 in the AP poll.

Hardaway lost several key players to the transfer portal, but he does return his backcourt in point guard Lester Quinones and shooting guard Landers Nolley, II. Electrifying DeAndre Williams will be a solid player at power forward as well.

The Tigers looked clearly like an NCAA Tournament team as they improved throughout last season, but they made a run to the NIT championship after being ignored by the selection committee. They posted (+8000) odds throughout the last campaign.

Houston is still favored by the head coaches in the American Athletic Conference, with Memphis posted at second.

Dancing with the Devil

Coach Mike Krzyzewski returns for his 42nd and final year at Duke as he will embrace his farewell tour, a la any rock start or professional sports player who looks to script the last chapter of his career.

Duke is garnering the third-best odds at (+900) while checking in at No. 9 in the AP poll. The Blue Devils were also picking up (+1400) odds in other places among sportsbooks’ posts for the preseason.

Krzyzewski returns starters in Wendell Moore, Jr., Jeremy Roach and Mark Williams, but the focal point of this team will be freshman Paolo Banchero, who was the first freshman in 32 years to be named preseason player of the year in the ACC.

Duke is also the favorite to win the ACC although the accolades and the push already by the national media and the sportsbooks may be more about Coach K’s farewell tour than the actuality of Duke running to the sixth national championship of Krzyzewski’s career.

Duke struggled throughout last season as the Blue Devils finished 9-9 in the ACC and 13-11 overall.

Their odds did a nosedive as they started out with a (+1200) number, and they were also at (+8000) before the season ended.

Everything Turns Up Blue

Michigan posts at (+1000) to win the national title as the Wolverines return big man Hunter Dickinson in the middle, where he scored double figures in 23 of 28 games for the Wolverines a year ago.

Please Note:
Eli Brooks took his fifth season of eligibility from the COVID-19 relief and could be the catalyst on this team with his ability to shoot the three and be the Wolverines’ defensive stopper.

The Wolverines, who were posted at (+1400) back in the summer, also welcomes an under the radar transfer in point guard DeVanté Jones from Coastal Carolina. Jones was the Sun Belt Player of the Year last season as he will be a key leader on this team after finishing second in scoring in the SBC a year ago.

Cal’s Pals

Kentucky coach John Calipari went to work immediately upon the end of the Wildcats’ 9-16 season of a year ago as he went harder in the transfer portal than he did with recruiting high school talent after the bottom fell out for the Wildcats in the rigorous SEC in 2020-21.

Kellan Grady (Davidson), Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia), Savir Wheeler (Georgia) and CJ Frederick (Iowa) are the latest entries on “Team Cal” as Kentucky is sitting with (+1400) odds to win the national championship.

Former Creighton product Davion Mintz is the top returnee, while Calipari netted TyTy Washington, Daimion Collins, and Bryce Hopkins as his 5-star one-and-done prodigies. The Wildcats were (+2000) as well when the odds were posted during the summer.

Litany of Suitors

The brand names always get the best early odds and ratings, but there is once again a plethora of teams who will be as formidable or even more formidable as Cinderella is fitted for more slippers as the seasons go by.

Texas, with Chris Beard coming to Austin from Texas Tech, also has (+1400) odds while he is joined by the UCLA Bruins, who are rated No. 2 in the AP poll but are surprisingly accepting a (+1400) number.

Getting guard Johnny Juzang back is a deal maker for Mick Cronin and UCLA.

Bill Self welcomes back big man David McCormick on the interior for the Kansas Jayhawks (+1600), where he averaged 13.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and shot 52.5 percent from the field. Remy Martin (Arizona State) and Joseph Yesufu (Drake) stylize a backcourt that could lead the Jayhawks to the Final Four.

Purdue (+1600), Illinois (+1800), and Villanova (+1800) also appear on several odds boards as solid favorites.

Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.

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