They didn’t even make the Final Four this year, but the Kentucky Wildcats are still the No. 1 team on the NCAAB odds list for next year’s March Madness tournament.
Well, shoot. The Gonzaga Bulldogs showed the world they belong on the biggest stage in college basketball – but they still lost 71-65 to the North Carolina Tar Heels (–1) in the National Championship Game. Untimely misses down the stretch, highly questionable officiating, yadda yadda. It was a moral victory for us here at the ranch, snapping up the ‘Zags at +2 on the opening line.
So now that March Madness is behind us, which of these two teams is favored to win next year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament? Neither; it’s the Kentucky Wildcats at 10-1 on the college basketball odds list, followed by North Carolina, Gonzaga, and four other teams at 12-1. Oh, Kentucky. There you go again.
It’s hard for any one team to establish a dynasty in college hoops – the days of John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins are well behind us. But if anyone’s mastered the art of “one-and-done” recruiting, it’s Kentucky head coach John Calipari. He’s found his niche as a pipeline of young NBA-bound talent; Calipari has five of next year’s Top 25 recruits coming on board, according to Scout.com, and they’re all five-star prospects. Sweet baby corn.
The Tar Heels aren’t quite as freshman-dependent under Roy Williams, but they are losing three key seniors, plus junior guard Justin Jackson should he decide to turn pro as expected. And their 2017 recruiting class only ranks No. 22 overall at Scout, without even a four-star prospect waiting in the wings. Not the profile you’re looking for in a strong NCAAB pick.
Gonzaga didn't win, but the refs take the L tonight. Blown calls, mis-calls, stole spotlight of the game. #nationalchampionship— Five-Star Basketball (@5starbasketball) April 4, 2017
Free NCAAB Pick: Florida (20-1)
Gonzaga isn’t anywhere in the Top 25, because it’s Gonzaga – a tiny Jesuit college in Spokane, Washington that pays at least some attention to the “student” part of “student-athlete.” It’s hard to tell whether Mark Few’s Bulldogs will be good or great, but after reaching the National Championship Game, they’re odds are probably too short for next year. Let’s throw our weight behind one of the teams available at 20-1 instead. The Florida Gators look pretty good here; most of their core players will be back this fall, as the Gators enter Year Three under head coach Mike White. We’ll buy that for a dollar.
Best Line Offered: at TheGreek