Gonzaga Bulldogs Remain Favorites To Win National Championship
We’re still just over four weeks away from Selection Sunday for NCAA basketball.
The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will choose the 68 teams to make up the March Madness 2022 bracket. Those teams will be revealed on Sunday, Mar. 13.
Some of last year’s top teams, including the Creighton Bluejays, Michigan Wolverines, and Florida Gators, are in dog fights to claim spots in March Madness.
And then there are top clubs like the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Auburn Tigers, and defending champion Baylor Bears who have March Madness berths locked up. For the nation’s main heavyweights, it’s about staying healthy and building momentum toward the start of March Madness.
Gonzaga, the 2021 runner-ups, are the betting favorites to win the national championship in March Madness Betting. Mark Few’s clubs also finished second in the 2017 tournament, losing to the powerhouse North Carolina Tar Heels in the big game.
The Bulldogs, 19-2, haven’t lost a game in over two months — against No. 16 ranked Alabama back on Dec. 4. They’ve won 12 straight games ever since, and every single victory has come in double digits.
Drew Timme (17.6 points per game) fronts a Gonzaga offense that has five players averaging double-digit points per game: Chet Holmgren (14.7 PPG), Julian Strawther (12.8 PPG) Andrew Nembhard (10.6 PPG), and Rasir Bolton (10.3 PPG).
In a 68-team field, anything can happen. But the Bulldogs, who’ve come oh-to-close to bringing the school its first national championship twice in the past five years, anything less than a final four appearance should be considered a drastic disappointment.
Few’s group is firing on all cylinders right now. We saw last year what this team is capable of, so it’s no wonder they’re widely viewed as the team to beat.
Bears Eyeing A Rare Repeat
It’s been 15 years since we last saw a repeat national champion in men’s basketball.
The Gators are the last team to accomplish the feat, having won March Madness in 2006 and 2007. Prior to that, the 1991 and 1992 Duke Blue Devils were the last teams to go back-to-back.
The Bears are once again among the favorites to win the national title this year. History may not be on their side, but it’s always dangerous to rule out a Scott Drew-coached team.
After a perfect 15-0 start, the Bears hit a bit of a bump in the month of January, having dropped three games in an 18-day span. They opened February with an ugly 83-59 road loss to No. 10 ranked Kansas.
The main cause for concern? Baylor’s offense has been far less prolific than the group that averaged 82.9 points per game a year ago (second-best in the nation).
But their stingy defense, which has excelled especially in the steals department, has kept Baylor afloat throughout the 2021-22 campaign. And top scorer and elite three-point shooter L.J. Cryer can take over a game at any moment.
No. 1 Ranked Auburn Trying To Complete Dream Season
Improvement was inevitable for a Tigers team that finished a disappointing 13-14 a year ago, but who could have expected Auburn to be the nation’s top club up to this point?
Three years ago, Auburn made a surprise run to the Final Four, narrowly losing to Virginia 63-62. The Cavaliers went on to defeat the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the big game to claim their first national championship.
Fair or not, many fans and prognosticators refuse to put Auburn in the class of elite teams. Bruce Pearl has done a remarkable job in making this group a winner in such little time, but the
Tigers are going to have to show that they’re capable of handling the pressure of the big stages, especially against more experienced teams like Gonzaga, Duke, and Baylor.
Auburn’s lackluster defensive unit is certainly a flaw that should raise concerns. But the country’s No. 1 ranked team is getting by just fine with an explosive offense led by Jabari Smith and K.D. Johnson.
So bet against the Tigers at your own risk. This team nearly reached the finals three years ago, but Pearl’s 2021-22 group is even deeper than the underdog 2018-19 squad.