2023 NCAA Basketball Futures Wager: Gonzaga to Win Championship

by Al McMordie

After correctly predicting (in the preseason) two consecutive NCAA Basketball Championships with Virginia (22-1) and Baylor (12-1), I misfired last year with Gonzaga.   But if you don't succeed at first, try, try again!  So, with apologies to very good teams like Houston (currently 10-1 odds), Baylor (16-1) and Texas (30-1), I'm going to pull the trigger again on Gonzaga, which has odds at Caesars Sportsbook at 10-1 to win the title.

Last season, Gonzaga featured Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren, who was drafted #2 by the Oklahoma City Thunder.  This year, Timme returns, and will lead an offense currently ranked #1 by KenPom.com.  He'll be joined by UT-Chattanooga transfer, Malachi Smith (2022 Southern Conference Player of the Year), Julian Strawther, Rasir Bolton and Nolan Hickman.  

One advantage that teams like Gonzaga and, say, Houston have this season is that they play in conferences that have little competition.  This allows them to generate a lot of wins and, by season's end, a relatively-high seed in the NCAA Tournament.  In contrast, Big 12 teams like Baylor, Texas, Kansas, Texas Tech and TCU will beat each other up and could be under-seeded in the Tournament.

It's probably "now or never" for coach Mark Few's men.  This is Timme's final collegiate season.  And Gonzaga may be moving on to a Power conference like the Big 12, Pac 12, or Big East, as its Athletic Director, Chris Standiford, has discussed the possibility with the commissioners of those leagues.  Should Gonzaga leave the West Coast Conference, it will no longer be able to play a cupcake schedule, and its chances of attaining a #1 Tournament seed would be greatly impacted (Gonzaga has earned a #1 seed in four of five seasons).  But for now, Gonzaga has a built-in advantage by playing in the WCC.  I'll take Gonzaga at 10-1 odds to win the 2023 title.

Good luck, as always...
Al McMordie

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