The 2022-23 men’s college basketball season tips off Monday night around the country, and while the road is long to the Final Four in Houston, it’s not too early to start looking at the most likely candidates to lift the trophy.
Last year ended with Kansas winning the national championship at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, beating North Carolina, which in turn had ended the legendary career of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in the national semifinals. That’s a lot to live up to, but this season will give it a shot.
A lot of familiar names are atop the list of the national championship market at Caesars Sportsbook. Start with North Carolina and Kentucky, who are co-favorites nationally at +900.
The Tar Heels return four starters from the national runners-up: Caleb Love, Armando Bacot, RJ Davis and Leaky Black are all back, though it’s worth noting UNC only earned a regional No. 8 seed before catching fire on their run to the title game.
Kentucky’s 2021-22 season was the inverse: A great regular season produced a No. 2 seed, but the Wildcats bowed out to St. Peter’s in a first-round shocker. From that team, the Wildcats return player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe, point guard Sahvir Wheeler and sixth man Jacob Toppin, and they add five-star freshmen Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston.
After those two blue bloods come two non-Power Five schools, though both have plenty of recent success: Gonzaga and Houston are both listed at +1000 odds.
The Bulldogs have reached seven consecutive Sweet 16s but haven’t broken through for an elusive national title. They must replace No. 3 NBA draft pick Chet Holmgren but senior center Drew Timme is back to anchor a veteran lineup. As for the Cougars, they hope to reach the Final Four in their hometown behind key returners Jamal Shead and Marcus Sasser.
Timme also is the +650 favorite to win the John Wooden Award as the nation’s best player, followed by teammates Bacot (+800) and Love (+1000). Last year’s winner, Tshiebwe, is at +1200 along with Sasser and Jaime Jaquez of UCLA.
Speaking of the Bruins, they’re one of three other teams with better than 20-to-1 national title odds: UCLA is +1200, followed by Arkansas (+1500) 2020-21 champion Baylor (+1600) and Duke (+1800).
The Razorbacks lost most of their production from last year but are expected to push Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference because of a recruiting class that’s ranked second in the country to Duke according to 247Sports composite rankings. The centerpiece is guard Nick Smith, who is the highest-listed freshman for the Wooden Award at +1500.
Baylor is in a similar boat, with plenty of production lost, except the Bears reloaded through the transfer portal with forwards Jalen Bridges from West Virginia and Jared Lohner from BYU.
Duke also loses Paolo Banchero and most of its production from last year, but new Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer has the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class. Four of those freshmen could join Jeremy Roach in the starting five.
As for defending champion Kansas, Caesars lists +2500 odds that the Jayhawks will repeat. KU brings back starters Jalen Wilson and DaJuan Harris and adds Texas Tech transfer David McCullar, but it loses the star duo of Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack.
The season’s first week doesn’t have a lot of blockbuster games — the best two are probably Memphis-Vanderbilt on Monday and Michigan State-Gonzaga on Friday — so there are plenty of chances to size these teams up before they start running into one another later in November.
In the meantime, here’s the complete list of national championship odds, plus markets for some conference titles and the John Wooden Award winner at Caesars Sportsbook:
National championship odds (250 to 1 and below)
North Carolina +900
Texas Tech +4000
San Diego State +6000
Michigan State +8000
Florida State +10000
Seton Hall +10000
Texas A&M +10000
Miami (Fla.) +12500
St. John’s +12500
Ohio State +12500
Virginia Tech +15000
St. Mary’s +20000
Arizona State +20000
Wake Forest +20000
Saint Louis +20000
Ole Miss +25000
Loyola (Ill.) +25000
Notre Dame +25000
John Wooden Award odds
Drew Timme, Gonzaga +650
Armando Bacot, North Carolina +800
Caleb Love, North Carolina +1000
Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky +1200
Jaime Jaquez, UCLA +1200
Marcus Sasser, Houston +1200
Jalen Wilson, Kansas +1500
Nick Smith, Arkansas +1500
Julian Strawther, Gonzaga +1500
Tyger Campbell, UCLA +2000
Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana +2000
Hunter Dickinson, Michigan +2000
Terrance Shannon, Illinois +2500
Emoni Bates, Eastern Michigan +2800
Kevin McCullar, Kansas +3000
Zach Edey, Purdue +4000
Kendric Davis, Memphis +4000
Baylor Scheierman, Creighton +4000
Mike Miles, TCU +4000
Matt Bradley, San Diego State +5000
Posh Alexander, St. John’s +5000
Isaiah Wong, Miami +5000
Tyrese Hunter, Texas +5000
Antoine Davis, Detroit-Mercy +5000
Colin Castleton, Florida +6000
Max Abmas, Oral Roberts +6000
Kris Murray, Iowa +6000