College basketball power rankings based on national championship odds
With all of the sports going on right now, including the NFL, World Series, college football, and the NBA, college basketball season is about to crush us all.
It seems it was only yesterday that Baylor dismantled Gonzaga in the March Madness final to win his first-ever national championship. Can they repeat? Can the Bulldogs finally get over the bump? Only time will tell, but for now it’s time to dive into some power rankings.
I, Iain MacMillan, will be in charge of the varsity basketball power rankings this season, and the power that I hold in my fingers as I tap those rankings makes me feel unstoppable. Throw the AP poll out the window, this is where you want to find out who the real top teams in the country are.
Here is my official top 20 preseason varsity basketball ranking, along with their chances of winning the national championship, courtesy of WynnBET Sportsbook.
No surprise here. The Bulldogs are the betting favorites to win the National Championship and they also sit number one in my preseason power rankings. I don’t care that they always seem to choke on the tournament, they’re still an amazing team. Two of the top five players on the list for chances of winning the Naismith Player of the Year award are the Bulldogs, one of them being 7-foot freshman phenomenon Chet Holmgren.
It’s not much of a hot hold to place UCLA number two, especially with the run it had in last year’s tournament. Mick Cronin is one of the best coaches in the country, and the Bruins will be returning almost their entire team from last season. Most notably, Johnny Juzang will be back at the helm of UCLA. He has the fifth shortest odds to win the Naismith at +1200.
It’s my Canadian bias that shines through, but keep an eye out for Canadian freshman Caleb Houstan. He’s going to storm the Big Ten and make the Wolverines’ national contenders again. I believe in Juwan Howard.
In my opinion, the top three teams on the list are obvious and the bettors at WynnBET agree, but this is where things get tricky. Collin Gillespie is back for another season after tearing up his MCL last year, which immediately makes the Wildcats a top contender. The only downside to this team is that the Big East will likely cannibalize itself with its top-down competitiveness.
This is probably my first hot catch in the standings, but I like a team that can shoot 3-ball. Alabama love to shoot 3 points under Nate Oats, and when it’s hot beyond the arc, Alabama is almost unbeatable. Keep an eye out for five-star freshman JD Davidson.
If you like a team that has a ton of experienced players then you’ll like this Kentucky Wildcats team. They have 12 players on the team with at least a year of division one hoops under their belt. Look to bet on this team early in the season, as other teams with freshman talent discover their playing identities.
From a natural talent perspective, it’s hard to find a better team than the Memphis Tigers. Emoni Bates and Jalen Duran are future NBA prospects, and they also return as two strong starters in Landers Nolley II and DeAndre Williams. At the very least, the team will be exciting to watch.
I’m not as convinced of Kansas this season as others, but it’s hard to let them fall too far in my power standings. Arizona State transfer Remy Martin is a huge addition for this team, but the Jayhawks need to shoot better than they did last year if they are to race in the tournament.
You’re not going to see me being the one to rank an Illinois team led by Kofi Cockburn out of the top 10 no matter what the odds might say. Is the team strong enough to be a legitimate contender for the national championship? We’ll see, but Cockburn will be able to carry this team for most of the season.
It’s hard to judge exactly how good the Ducks will be this season with the number of incoming transfers, but I think they’re the second-best Pac-12 team next to UCLA. Will Richardson is going to become one of the best players in the country.
It’s hard to find a team as complete as Purdue. The Boilermakers might not have a single player going to take college basketball by storm, but they’re as complete as a team can be. Trevion Williams will lead this team to a successful season, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they are a No.2 or No.3 seed as the tournament unfolds.
Arkansas was one of my favorite teams to bet on last season, and I’ve been tempted to put them in the top 10 this year. Eric Musselman is one of the best coaches in the country and he knows how to get the most out of his players.
EJ Lidell, Kyle Young and Justice Sueing will be the key players on this team. Their lack of defense last year (233rd in defensive efficiency) worries me a bit, but if they can tackle their side of the field, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
The Bonnies! The Atlantic 10 is, for some reason, my favorite conference to watch and bet on and St. Bonaventure will be king in the 2021-22 season. The Bonnies earned a No.9 seed in the tournament last year and basically their whole roster is back for another season. Their defense, in particular, will cause problems for all teams.
Houston qualified for the Final Four last year, and he may be ready to go this season. Strong defense can take a team far, and the Cougars bring back a strong core of players from last year’s squad.
Texas fans are going to hate that I rank them so low because last year’s Big 12 champions have high expectations for this season. The reason I ranked the Longhorns out of the top 15 is the turnovers. The Longhorns placed 271st in turnovers per game last season and lost to Abilene Christian in the first round of the tournament because of it. Until they solve their revenue problem, I can’t rank them in the top 10.
Baylor lost Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell last season, but Matthew Mayer and Jonathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua are back. The Bears also secured key transfer James Akinjo from Arizona. While they won’t win back-to-back national championships, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ll be a strong team until I’m shown otherwise.
I’m a fan of good defensive teams, and that’s exactly what the Volunteers boast about. If freshman Kennedy Chandler can give them some offensive power, they could be a team no one wants to play in March.
The Seminoles managed to secure the # 2 recruiting class in the ACC, while also securing transfer inbound Cam’Ron Fletcher of Kentucky and Caleb Mills of Houston. Their size, length and well-balanced attack will cause problems for their opponents throughout the season.
Spare me the ‘it’s Coach K’s last season, they’re going to be motivated to win for him’. The game has passed Mike Kryzyzewski, and to be fair, Duke will be better with him out of the picture the following year. This season will be an ego trip for a head coach who likes to be talked about as he gives himself a farewell tour to every school they play … It’s not a good recipe for success.