The college basketball season is upon us. The opening night schedule on the men’s side has 20 of the 25 ranked teams favored by at least 20 points according to the sportsbook so it is going to take a little while until the can’t-miss matchups get underway.
Defending men’s champion Kansas lost most of its top players, so the Jayhawks are not favored to become the first men’s Division I team to defend its national title since the 2005-06 and 2006-07 Florida teams.
It is a different story on the women’s side with South Carolina favored to win another title.
Recapping the Men’s Top Storylines
Crowded at the Top
North Carolina, which brings back four starters from a team that reached the national title game, finds itself priced at +850 to win the national championship. The Las Vegas odds also list forward Armando Bacot as the national player of the year front-runner.
The Tar Heels are not alone as the favorites heading into the season when looking at the teams in the college basketball betting lines.
Gonzaga, which had national player of the year candidate Drew Timme and two other players withdraw their names from the 2022 NBA Draft, also comes in at +850.
Kentucky has the same odds with Oscar Tschiebwe, the nation’s top rebounder, among the returning players for the Wildcats. Senior Jacob Toppin led the Wildcats with 21 points in their last exhibition game.
Clear the lane because Toppin isn’t stoppin’ 💥 pic.twitter.com/B1eQBnca83
— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) November 4, 2022
Cougars Ready to Roar
It is only natural to wonder how the 2021-22 season would have played out for the Houston Cougars if Marcus Sasser wasn’t limited to just 12 games and if key reserve Tramon Mark could have played in more seven games.
They both return and will be part of a loaded roster for Houston. Add in prized recruit Jarace Walker and perhaps this team can accomplish what the Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler squads couldn’t back in the 1980s.
The Cougars come in at +1000 in the odds to win the national title.
Defending Champions Aim for Repeat
Kansas will have a much different team from the one that won the national title.
Four of the top five scorers are gone. The good news is that Jalen Wilson opted to return, as did Dajuan Harris Jr., so there are some players to build around for a Kansas team priced at +1200 to win back-to-back titles. The addition of former Texas Tech standout Kevin McCullar will give the Jayhawks another proven scorer.
Big 12 Conference rival Baylor isn’t too far behind with +1500 championship odds. Kansas is favored by 34½ points in Monday’s season opener against Nebraska Omaha.
Newcomers Could Impact National Landscape
According to the ESPN Class of 2022 recruiting database, six of the top 15 incoming freshmen landed at either Arkansas or Duke.
The Duke duo of Dereck Lively and Dariq Whitehead are rated first and second in the class while Kyle Filipowski comes in at No. 7.
Arkansas landed No. 3 recruit Nick Smith as well as No. 11 recruit Jordan Walsh and No. 15 Anthony Black.
With the talented freshmen joining some proven producers, Arkansas is priced at +1000 in the odds to win the program’s first national title since 1994. Duke checks in at +1600 in the first season with Jon Scheyer at the helm following the retirement of Mike Krzyzewski.
Women’s Top Storylines
Boston, Gamecocks Favored to Go Back-to-Back
South Carolina has the best player in the country returning as 6-foot-5 Aliyah Boston is looking to help South Carolina win another title.
Even with second-leading scorer Destanni Henderson coming off a solid season with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, there is plenty of returning talent other than just Boston.
Seniors Zia Cooke, Laeticia Amihere, Brea Beal and Victaria Saxton combined for 31.7 points per game.
The Gamecocks signed three of the top four players in the Class of 2021. Raven Johnson missed the entire season while Saniya Rivers and Sania Feagan combined for just 119 points, so it is worth watching to see what their roles are this season.
The Rich Get Richer
If Stanford didn’t add any recruits, the Cardinal would be a team to watch this season.
However, adding No. 1-rated national recruit Lauren Betts to an already talented nucleus makes Stanford the team with the second-best odds to win the title as the Cardinal are priced at +450 to win the championship.
Cameron Brink and Haley Jones lead the list of returnees while Betts will make a talented team even more dangerous.
Clark Hopes to Help Hawkeyes Zero in on Title
Caitlin Clark was the leading scorer in the country a season ago. However, after leading Iowa to the Big Ten tournament title, Clark and the Hawkeyes fell to Creighton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Iowa returns six of the seven players who averaged more than 10 minutes per game. The only departure was Tomi Taiwo, who transferred to TCU. It is not surprising that the Hawkeyes are third in the national championship odds.
Can Tennessee, UConn Return to the Top?
UConn (+1200) would certainly be better than having the sixth-best odds to win the national title if former national player of the year Paige Bueckers hadn’t suffered a season-ending knee injury. Talented freshman Ice Brady will also miss the season.
With Christyn Williams, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Evina Westbrook all taken in the WNBA Draft, things will look a little different with sophomore Azzi Fudd likely to lead the Huskies.
Tennessee (+800) is ahead of UConn and Texas (+1000) in the national championship odds per the college basketball betting lines.
Tennessee brings back leading scorer Jordan Horston while Tamari Key is the top inside player. Justine Pissott is the best of Tennessee’s incoming freshmen.
Texas saw leading scorer Aliyah Matharu transfer to Florida while Audrey Warren landed at Georgia. That means that three of the top four scorers are gone.
Texas added transfers Shaylee Gonzales from Brigham Young, Taylor Jones from Oregon State and Sonia Morris from DePaul.