How long until March? Don’t worry, I know the answer, way too much still, but that shouldn’t stop us from talking about this upcoming men’s college basketball season, especially as to who the top March Madness predictions experts are already pointing out as top favorites to earn a spot in the 2021-22 Final Four Tournament.
As the start of the season quickly approaches and the initial rankings have already come out, who do you think should be taken into consideration as early favorites to make it all the way to this season’s Final Four tournament? Yes, I know, what’s said now can change in a heartbeat, especially once March Madness and its perennial plethora of upsets start to happen, but there are some times who are always above all that. With this being legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last season, will the Blue Devils become relevant once again and make a run for it all, or is it time to focus on coach K’s farewell tour and gear up for what’s to come? For now, let’s talk about three early favorites who look more than poised, above all other teams to make a run for the Final Four.
Even after suffering a heartbreaking loss in last season’s college basketball finals against Baylor, the Gonzaga Bulldogs stand on top of everybody’s list for early favorites to take home the NCAA basketball crown this season. Given that they’ve been to the title game in two of the last five years, as well as being ranked as the number 1 team in the country in six of the past 10 years, and because of their pedigree that places them as an absolute powerhouse when it comes to college hoops, it’s clear that everyone will be gunning for the Bulldogs. But the real question here is, are all other teams ready for what Gonzaga will be bringing?
Head coach Mark Few, has been able to once again come up with a lineup that almost reads like an unfair advantage for the Zags against any team they play. Starting out with the fact that they were able to bring in center Chet Holmgren, the No.1 prospect in the US, to play alongside PF/C Drew Timme, automatically giving the Bulldogs the best frontcourt duo in all of college basketball, that can already tell you how stacked this team will be. Add to that what players like Andrew Nembhard, who in many experts’ opinions is one of the best point guards in the nation, former Iowa State transfer Rasir Bolton and rookie Nolan Hickman will add on the court, and it’s easy to see why the Bulldogs will be the most feared team in NCAA basketball this season, as well as the early top favorite to make it to the Final Four and who knows, even win the title.
There was one team, apart from Baylor that is that made Gonzaga truly work on the court. Unlike Baylor that went on to defeat the Bulldogs for the National Title, the UCLA Bruins were literally one bucket away from sending their thriller of a game against Gonzaga into overtime in last year’s Final Four showdown. This team, who can brag about having one of the richest histories in college basketball as well as one of the most loyal fanbases, wants to repeat their past national title successes, something they haven’t been able to do since 1995. Now, with the 2021-22 season coming, if there is one team that will be out to find redemption, with a win against Gonzaga along the way hopefully it’s the Bruins.
Coach Mick Cronin is banking on last year’s efforts to become the perfect fuel to get this team rolling from the get-go once the initial tip-off for the season gets going. With players like star guard Johnny Juzang leading the helm, alongside dual-threat G/F Jaime Jaquez Jr., F Cody Riley, G Jules Bernard, and G Tyger Campbell all returning to their starting five positions and with some much-needed bench help coming from players like G Jaylen Clark, F Mac Etienne, G/F Jake Kyman and C Kenneth Nwuba, this team has all the right tools to give Gonzaga a run for their favoritism. Also, it doesn’t hurt that five-star recruit Peyton Watson and center Myles Johnson, who joined the Bruins from Rutgers will also surely become pivotal parts of the roster.
If you go back in time to 2008, you’ll find the last time that the Kansas Jayhawks, a team that’s been known to feed the NBA with some of the best and most polarizing talents, won the NCAA Men’s basketball title. Thanks to the now-famous Mario Chalmers shot that sent the game into overtime against Memphis, the Jayhawks were able to turn the game around and win their last championship. Since then, the Jayhawks have had some solid runs, but it feels like this new season might just be the right time for the hawks to take flight and go for the title once again.
Coach Bill Self, who’s been with the Jayhawks for as long as many fans can remember, can brag about having a roster that will surely be looking like one of the biggest threats in all of college hoops this season. With the return of four of the team’s last season starters and the addition of former Arizona State PG Remy Martin, who could easily take the prize as the best transfer player for this season, Kansas will be scary on all sides of the court. A lineup with the likes of Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Jalen Wilson, Christian Braun, and Remy Martin sounds like a squad that will step down to absolutely nobody, which is exactly what the Jayhawks need this season if they want to make it to the Final Four.
(Visited 8 times, 8 visits today)