The 2021-22 men’s college basketball season is finally underway, with tip off on Tuesday, November 9th seeing all the top seeds record comfortable wins. Teams will now battle it out to be part of March Madness, the 83rd annual edition of the NCAA basketball tournament beginning on March 15th, 2022.

This season sees a whole host of storylines unfolding, starting with Duke’s coach Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in Division I men’s college basketball history enters his final year. A record 47th year in charge was his last after 27 combined ACC titles, 35 NCAA Tournament berths, 12 Final Four trips and five national titles.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs have unfinished business after falling one game short of a perfect season last time out. They’ll be desperate to avenge their 70-86 defeat to Baylor and bring home the title for the first time in their history. Meanwhile, the reigning champions, the Baylor Bears, will be aiming to become the first repeat champion since Florida achieved it back in 2006 and 2007.

With packed stadiums, cheerleaders, pep bands and a contest that looks too close to call, this season promises to be more exciting than ever. Below we’ve analysed the favorites according to the latest College basketball betting odds and picked the team we believe will be celebrating come April 4th at Caesars Superdome.

Gonzago Bulldogs:

The Zags are the number one overall seed and hold an impressive 62-3 record over the past two years. They’ve also got big game experience having played in two of the past four NCAA Tournament title games. Yes, they lost last year’s final, suffering their only defeat, but that will have only them more determined to put it right this year. 

Three of their top four scorers have left but they have dealt with that adversity before. The return of Drew Timme, the CBS Sports Preseason National Player of the Year plus the arrival of Chet Holmgren will be a huge boost to an already great team. With quality in the shape of veteran Andrew Nembhard, who provided 31 assists in last years tournament, plus five-star freshmen Hunter Sallis on the roster, the Zags are our top tip to go one step further on April 4th.

UCLA

Last season UCLA became only the fifth number 11 seed to reach make Final Four and while some may put that run down to luck and not talent, we would argue it’s just the beginning for this team. You simply can’t bet against a program with the most national championships in college basketball history.

The majority of last year’s roster is back including Johnny Juzang, Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez, plus Head Coach Mick Cronin has made some great additions. Five-star freshman Peyton Watson and center Myles Johnson from Rutgers, where he averaged 5.7 rebounds per game, have all been recruited.

There’s no denying the Bruins have star power this year, coupled with great depth, so nobody’s going to be surprised to see them lining up in the Final Four come March.

TexasDespite losing three NBA Draft picks in Kai Jones, Greg Brown and Jericho Sims, new coach Chris Beard has built an impressive roster for his first season in charge of the Longhorns. The question is, can he turn those players into a quality team?

The roster rebuild has seen top-35 freshman Jaylon Tyson join from Lubbock, followed by Kentucky guard Devin Askew and Utah forward Timmy Allen. Creighton forward Christian Bishop along with Vanderbilt forward Dylan Disu were the next players through the door. As if that wasn’t enough, Beard then landed two of the most coveted, all-conference talents in the transfer market, signing up Minnesota point guard Marcus Carr and UMass forward Tre Mitchell.

That means Texas boasts a roster containing the number one transfer of the offseason, three of the top 10, four of the top 20 and five of the top 35. With talent that good, it’s impossible to rule them out making a Final Four run. 

Kansas

The Jayhawks only major loss from last season is Marcus Garrett, but Head Coach Bill Self has brought in plenty more options offering far greater depth from the bench this time around. Kansas hasn’t signed any 5-star players but Remy Martin from Arizona State brings 1,754 points scored over the past four seasons, while Joseph Yesufu from Drake averaged 12.8 points per game in 2020-21 and was even more impressive down the stretch, averaging 23.2 points during the final nine games.This is a team that beat National Champions Baylor and was ranked number 3 seed for the NCAA Tournament. Four of their top five scorers from last season return and while they may lack in terms of high quality NBA talent, don’t be surprised to see the Jayhawks lining up in the Final Four.

Villanova Wildcats

The Wildcats return almost all the players from a squad that might have gone further in the tournament had star guard Colin Gillespie not been injured in the last regular season game. Although the loss of Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to the NBA Draft was a big miss.

With Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels – The Big East Preseason Player of the Year candidate – returning as fifth-year seniors, along with junior guard Justin Moor, Head Coach Jay Wright’s roster looks strong. Villanova opened the season with an impressive 91-51 win over Mount St. Mary’s and with a squad that boasts a strong backcourt plus the talents of sophomore Eric Dixon and junior Justin Moore, the Wildcats will be in the final shake up come March.

This year’s NCAA tournament looks closer than ever, but there’s no doubt that whoever cuts the nets in Caesars Superdome on April 4th will be worthy champions.

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