College basketball is tipping off, and with NFL and college football, the MLB playoffs, and the start of the NHL and NBA, it’s not too soon to take a look at who could be cutting down the nets this season.
While many fans and bettors do not start to look at NCAA Basketball until after the new year, there are plenty of games teams that are worth tossing some money on this season in a wide-open field.
Of course, UCONN surprised many by taking down San Diego State in the NCAA Title game to win the title in April, but Florida Atlantic and Miami both came out of nowhere to make it all the way to the Final Four.
Will one of those four be back dancing again in April? Or will a new team emerge to run the gauntlet and win a title?
Top Six Odds to Win the 2023 NCAA National Championship
- Duke: +1100
- Kansas: +1200
- Purdue: +1200
- Kentucky: +1400
- Michigan State: +1500
- UCONN: +1600
- North Carolina Tar Heels: +2200
- Villanova Wildcats: +3000
- Florida Atlantic Owls: +4000
Odds may change.
While Duke was finding its way in their first season without Coach K on the sideline, new coach Jon Scheyer led the team to a 27-9 mark and got the Blue Devils to the Round of 32. Duke returns their top four scorers from a season ago, including Wooden Award candidates Kyle Filipowski (+800 Wooden Award odds), Jeremy Roach (+15000), Tyrese Proctor, and Mark Mitchell all are back. Add in transfer Neal Begovich from Stanford and a solid freshman class led by Jared McCain and Duke offers some tremendous value, even as the favorite.
The Jayhawks are a perennial power, and are back in the conversation again after a 28-8 season. However, for the third time in their last four tournament appearances, they failed to make the Sweet 16. This year’s team will have a new look, with their top two scorers, Jalen Wilson and Grady Dick off to the NBA. Kansas will turn to Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson (+900 Wooden Award odds), who averaged 18.5 points per game for the Wolverines. Returners Kevin McCullar Jr. and Dajuan Harris Jr. are two other players to watch for Kansas, as is Towson transfer, Nick Timberlake, who averaged 17.7 per game.
Purdue could be an interesting play this season, led by Wooden Award favorite Zach Edey (+175), who is a heavy favorite to win the award for the nation’s top player. Purdue returns almost all of its key players from last year’s 29-6 squad. They had a disappointing first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed, losing to 16th seeded Farleigh Dickinson, becoming the second men’s No. 1 to lose to a 16-seed. The last time that happened, Virginia won the title the very next season, something Purdue could try to replicate.
Justin Edwards and Antonio Reeves are back to lead the Wildcats, who lost eight players to either the NBA or the transfer portal. One name to keep an eye on is incoming freshman Dajuan Wagner Jr., who was the nation’s top recruit from Camden, NJ. Wagner comes from a basketball-rich family, his father Dajuan played a Memphis and was drafted by the Cleveland Cavs, and his grandfather Milt, played at Louisville and was a second-round NBA pick in 1986. If Wagener is as advertised they could be a good value play.
Michigan State, +1500
The Spartans will once again be there at the end of the season, and will look to make it back to the Final Four for the first time since 2021. They have a good shot with A.J. Hoggard, Jaden Akins, Tyson Walker, and Malik Hall all returning. Sprinkle in freshman Xavier Booker, Coen Carr, and Jeremy Fears and Sparty could be cutting down the nets in 2024.
The defending champs lost a pair of key players to the NBA from last year’s title team. Adama Sanogo and Andre Jackson will be tough to replace, but the Huskies will look at top returner, Donovan Clingan, freshman Stephon Castle and Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer to help fill that production.
Who are some long shots to keep an eye on?
North Carolina Tar Heels, +2200: Two key players are back in Chapel Hill this season, guard R.J. Davis and big man Armando Bacot return with a couple of interesting transfers in the mix. Notre Dame transfer Cormac Ryan and Harrison Ingram from Stanford give UNC some veterans to rely on. Freshman Elliot Cadeau could be the key to the team’s success if he has a big year, I like UNC’s value.
Villanova Wildcats, +3000: The Wildcats hit the transfer portal hard and they hope it earns them a trip back to the NCAA Tournament. Villanova returns a pair of veteran players, Justin Moore and Eric Dixon, and added three key transfers, TJ Bamba (Washington State), Hakim Hart (Maryland), and Tyler Burton (Richmond), who are all expected to play key roles right away.
Florida Atlantic Owls, +4000: The Owls made a run all the way to the Final Four, before finally falling to San Diego State. However, they return all five starters from their 35-win team, including Johnell Davis and Alijan Martin. They will be moving to the AAC this season, so they will play a more challenging schedule but still should be a tournament team and offer great value.
2023 NCAA National Championship Betting Prediction
Michigan State, +1500: I really like the value they have and the experience they have in their backcourt. Experience matters and great guard play is key in the NCAA Tournament, so give me the Spartans to cut down the nets this season.
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