College basketball title odds: The six tiers 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’ve become a meme seemingly before memes were even a thing, a running joke about who won the office bracket by betting on their favorite colors or the most popular mascots. cuter.

Now amplify that sentiment for those trying to put a little something extra into predicting results.

The knockout nature of the NCAA Tournament adds a random element to champion selection. Since 2004-05, the team chosen as the overall top seed has won the national title three times. And KenPom.com’s No. 1 team heading into the tournament have cut the nets just three times in the nearly 20 years since the site’s inception.

Here’s a look at the top NCAA Tournament contenders broken down by tier, followed by full odds to win the NCAA Tournament provided by Caesars Sportsbook.

Level 1: The favorite

Team: Gonzaga (6-1)

Don’t look now, but it’s still Gonzaga. The Bulldogs spent most of the 2020-21 season as prohibitive favorites and more than two months into 2021-22, the preseason No. 1 team still has the best odds at 6-1. . Of course, Gonzaga has recently regained his place at the top The Associated Press Top 25 Poll, thanks to a seven-game winning streak. Last year’s team reached the national championship game before narrowly failing; Does this year’s Zags team have what it takes to finish the job?

Level 2: Favorites

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

Three other teams have odds greater than 12-1 to win the trophy in April: defending national champion Baylor (11-1), Duke (9-1) and Purdue (9-1). Two of those bets are better than the other at this point: While Purdue has the nation’s top-ranked offense in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom, no national title winner since 2001-02 has won without a ranking among the top 45 in adjusted defensive efficiency. in the tournament. The Boilermakers currently sit there at No. 64; the defense will have to join forces with Purdue to survive the odd night each team faces in March and April.

Baylor started the season 15-0 before losing their next two home games, although both losses came without outstanding freshman Jeremy Sochan and the latter without point guard James Akinjo down the stretch. Duke is seven points shy of an unbeaten record this year even at 14-3, and the Blue Devils could start to pick up their pace as their recent starting XI, one with former five-star prospect AJ Griffin joining the lap, get used to playing together .

Level 3: Valuable Competitors

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

Bettors do not have enough caught up with Auburn so far; CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish made the case for the Tigers atop their most recent Top 25-1s, and Auburn has the ninth-best odds to win it all at 20-1. Kansas sits atop the Big 12 despite going most of the league without a healthy Remy Martin. With Martin expected back from a bone bruise in his knee, the Jayhawks have the profile of a potential frontrunner, but a more reasonable 12-1 odds. And then there’s Illinois. The Fighting Illini top the Big Ten standings, even after Monday’s double-overtime loss to Purdue. And like Kansas, the Illini get a better player, Andre Curbelo playing his first game since Nov. 23 and still dropping 20 points, six rebounds and three assists. As he gets up to speed, Illinois’ 25-1 odds might seem way too low.

Level 4: Talented teams with solid value

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

Two of the most talented teams in the country, and the teams with the most upside, have similar odds: Arizona (15-1) and Kentucky (18-1). Both Wildcat teams possess the talent, athleticism and length of the NBA, and both can sideline smaller teams by dominating on offensive glass. One thing to watch with Arizona: How will Tommy Lloyd’s team – the fastest in the nation by average offensive possession length – fare in March when transition opportunities dwindle and will the game slow down? Kentucky’s victory over Tennessee was as impressive an offensive effort as college hoops have seen this year. Game ‘A’ Kentucky might just be the best team in the country, but will Kentucky become that team night and night? Bettors waiting to pick either Wildcat team could find worse odds if they delay and watch Kentucky or Arizona take off.

Level 5: Preferred values

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

Parrish ranked Wisconsin third in its Top 25 and 1, and this Badger team has more momentum than recent iterations, thanks to National Player of the Year nominee Johnny Davis. To be able to get a potential top five team with odds of 40 to 1? It’s strong enough.

Villanova has a better chance of winning the title at 20-1, and the Wildcats have one of the best backcourts in the nation with Collin Gillespie playing as the nation’s leading point guard and Justin Moore averaging 18.5 points per game. over his last four. Villanova is already extremely battle tested and only getting better, and Jay Wright has two of the last five national titles.

Florida State and Oregon are distant bigger plans, but both have strong value for their rosters and for the coaches who have managed to shape their teams to play well in March. The Seminoles have reached at least the Sweet 16 in each of the past three NCAA tournaments, and after a rocky start, Florida State has won three straight. There’s still work to be done, but Leonard Hamilton and a deep, talented squad look like a solid pick at 80-1.

Dana Altman’s team has proven itself at 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 watching now that their odds have plummeted and their basketball has picked up.

Level 6: Longshots to Watch

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

While the previously mentioned Florida State and Oregon certainly fall into this category — teams with odds of 60-1 or worse — so do three different Big East teams with solid resumes. Seton Hall and UConn have identical odds of 60-1 while boasting both offenses and defenses ranked in KenPom’s top 40. UConn accomplished that feat by playing four games and part of another without formidable big man Adama Sanogo. All he has done since his return is averaging 22 points, 17 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. And Xavier is in the top 20 teams with KenPom’s No. 22 offense and No. 30 defense; the Musketeers are a bargain at 80-1.

While Iowa State lacks the offense of a national title contender, the Cyclones are 14-4 with wins over Texas Tech and Texas and narrow losses to Baylor and Kansas until present in the Big 12 game – getting the Cyclones to 80-1 could be solid for a team that could make a run.

2021 NCAA Tournament Odds

The Odds of Winning the 2022 NCAA Tournament from Caesars Sportsbook

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