This season, the Final Four tournament will be back to normal. Fans will be in the stands, and the games will be played across the country, rather than confined within the state of Indiana, like in 2021. The city of New Orleans, Louisiana will host the Final Four, on April 2 and April 4, while the regionals will be played in San Antonio, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Last season, I achieved the quite rare Basketball "Daily Double." I predicted the winners of each of the NBA (Milwaukee Bucks @ 13-2 odds) and the NCAA (Baylor @ 12-1 odds) Basketball championships prior to the start of the season.
Faithful followers know that my futures predictions are among the best (if not THE BEST) in the business. Let's review some highlights just in the past few years. As I mentioned, in 2021, both my NBA (Milwaukee Bucks @ 13-2 odds) and College Basketball (Baylor @ 12-1 odds) futures bets came home with the $$$$. And, since we had no winner in College Basketball in 2020, that was the 2nd straight NCAA Basketball season I hit my futures ticket, as I had Virginia (at 22-1 odds) in the 2018-19 preseason (Virginia was my favorite Futures Wager of All-Time)! Also in 2019, I hit cashed a major longshot in Baseball on the Washington Nationals (at 18-1 odds), and followed that World Series winner up in 2020 with the Los Angeles Dodgers (at 4-1 odds). Among my other recent preseason winners were the Houston Astros in 2017 (at 10-1 odds), Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 (at 7-1 odds), San Antonio Spurs (2014, 14-1 odds; 1999, 11-2 odds), Golden State Warriors (2016, 5-1 odds; 2018, -160 odds), and Green Bay Packers (2011, 10-1 odds).
So, will we do it again? For 2022, I'm going to look back to the Title game played last April between Baylor and Gonzaga. The Bears defeated the then-undefeated (31-0) Bulldogs, 86-70. And the game wasn't even that close, as Baylor streaked out to a 29-10 lead (on 5-for-5 shooting from long distance), and coasted the rest of the way. Immediately after the game, I was chatting with my friend Chris, and our attention (of course) turned to next season. I told Chris right then that I was actually going to take Gonzaga to win the 2022 Title. They were expected to snag Chet Holmgren, who was the #1-ranked high school recruit (and they did). So, I really liked the combination of what they had returning, with the new players who would be brought into the mix. And, of course, I loved that they almost (but not quite) won the title last season, as that pain will no doubt serve them well this upcoming season. After I hung up with my friend Chris, I bet on Gonzaga at 7-1 odds (and those odds still exist today at Bet365.com).
It's true that the Bulldogs lost Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert from last year's finalist team. But the cupboard is far from bare. Indeed, the Zags will be ranked #1 to start the season. They return one of the best big men in the nation, in Drew Timme, who will be favored to win the John Wooden Award, as well as Andrew Nembhard and Anton Watson. They'll also feature Rasir Bolton, who transferred from Iowa State, Nolan Hickman, Hunter Sallis, and the aforementioned Holmgren, who likely -- despite his string-beaned appearance -- will be the No. 1 pick in next year's NBA draft. I watched Holmgren play in Gonzaga's "Blue and White" intrasquad scrimmage game a few weeks ago and, even though he struggled with turnovers, the 7-footer impressed me with his ball-handling skills, and his rim protection. Gonzaga will improve as the season goes along, especially as Holmgren gets experience, and coach Mark Few's team better learns how to play together, and to each individual's strengths. Finally, Gonzaga will do what previous incarnations failed to do, and that is to cut down the nets. Gonzaga is currently listed at 7-1 odds at Bet365. Take the Bulldogs. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.