We look at three of the top teams heading into
Many players already made decisions about their futures but with the NCAA declining to grant the one-time waiver rule for transfers, look for many requests for immediate eligibility. This can give some teams a huge boost. It all depends on the individual rulings.
Five-star guard Daishen Nix’s decision to join the G League shocked everyone at UCLA. The team will likely lose last year’s leading scorer Chris Smith as well. The NBA combine and the NBA G League Elite Camp were canceled and Smith might decide to wait a year and return for his senior season.
If Smith returns, UCLA would have their top five scorers from last season and a host of talented reserves. Jalen Hill and Cody Riley will be able to develop more and point guard Tyger Campbell is still their main facilitator.
Four-star wing Jaylen Clark and Johnny Juzang, a Kentucky transfer in the offseason will add much-needed depth. Juzang was given a waiver by the NCAA and he play immediately.
UCLA (+5000 to win the 2021 NCAA Tournament at BetOnline) needs Hill and Riley to produce from day one and make an impact. This team played well against Pac-12 opponents last season. The problem is that other teams have had time to study them and discover how to counter head coach Mick Cronin’s unique style.
North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina was the biggest disappointment last season. Cole Anthony did play well, when healthy and Armando Bacot had a solid freshman season but the supporting cast, except Garrison Brooks, who had a breakout year, struggled mightily.
The roster will be much better, as the Tar Heels have the No. 2 overall recruiting class in the country ready to contribute. North Carolina has three five-star commits: point guard Caleb Love and forwards Walker Kessler and Day’Ron Sharpe. Wings Puff Johnson and Kerwin Walton and top-50 guard R.J. Davis are also expected to help this team right away.
The Tar Heels will have a scary frontcourt with Bacot and Brooks coming back, along with the previously mentioned freshmen. The backcourt has some question marks though. Caleb Love will have a lot of pressure and they also need Leaky Black, Anthony Harris and Andrew Platek to help him carry the load as he develops.
The talent is there for this team to go far, they just need someone in the backcourt to step up and have solid shooting displays on a regular basis. BetOnline has North Carolina at +2000 to win the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Leading scorer Saddiq Bey will stay in the NBA Draft but Villanova returns 83.1 percent of their minutes from last year’s team, which went 24-7. Collin Gillespie, who averaged 15.1 points and 4.5 assists
Former five-star wing Bryan Antoine rarely played last season while recovering from injuries. Anthony can also help fill Bey’s void. This is a team deep with wing talent. You can find Villanova at +1200 to win the NCAA Tournament at BetOnline.
Caleb Daniels was an elite scorer as a sophomore at Tulane, averaging 16.9 points in 30 games before transferring to Villanova and sitting out last season. If Daniels steps up for Bey or provides instant offense off the bench, this team can be a Final Four contender.