Connecticut (31-8 straight up, 27-11-1 against the spread) collected its fifth national championship in program history Monday night, pulling away from San Diego St. for a 76-59 win as a seven-point favorite. The Huskies joined Duke and Indiana with the fourth-most natties in college basketball, trailing only North Carolina (six), Kentucky (eight) and UCLA (11).
Adama Sanogo scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked one shot on his way to earning Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. Tristen Newton had a game-high 19 points to go with 10 boards, four assists and two steals. Jordan Hawkins added 16 points, hitting the first bucket of the game to cash a prop that paid a +450 return.
UConn played sloppy at times, committing 13 turnovers and missing quite a few easy shots, especially late in the first half. Nevertheless, Dan Hurley’s squad still cashed tickets to cover in the first half (-4), went ‘over’ its Team Total in the first half (32.5 points) and for the game (69.5). All that worked for me on a 3-0 night for six units of profit, in addition to cashing several future wagers, including one from late January for a 30/1 payout.
Looking ahead to the 2024 NCAA Tournament, FanDuel has UConn listed as a +1100 favorite to repeat as national champions. That’s where FanDuel stood on Wednesday morning.
DraftKings opened Duke as a +1000 (or 10/1) ‘chalk’ to win next season’s Tournament late Monday night. DraftKings still has the Blue Devils favored, but they’re now 11/1. The next-shortest odds belong to Kentucky (13/1), UConn (14/1), Marquette (16/1), Kansas (16/1), Purdue (18/1), UNC (20/1), Sparty (20/1), Arizona (20/1) and Alabama (20/1).
The next-shortest odds at FanDuel behind UConn belong to Duke (13/1), Kentucky (15/1), Arizona (16/1), Marquette (16/1), Alabama (16/1), Purdue (16/1), Michigan St. (16/1), Creighton (20/1) and Kansas (20/1).
Hawkins is a projected lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, so we can expect him to declare in the coming days. Sanogo and Andre Jackson could follow his lead, but neither is expected to be a first-round pick. If Sanogo and Jackson opt to return, the Huskies would have five of their top six scorers back.
Duke was on a 10-game winning streak until its young team got bullied by a veteran Tennessee squad in the Round of 32. However, Jon Scheyer’s second team is expected to return three of its top four scorers to go with five incoming freshmen who are five-star recruits.
Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner, Trey Alexander and Baylor Scheierman could turn pro and probably be second-round selections. If they don’t, the Bluejays will return all of their key pieces from an Elite Eight team.
Remember, this nucleus (minus Scheierman) was in a one-possession game with 90 seconds left against the eventual national champion, Kansas, in the 2022 NCAA Tournament’s Round of 32 despite missing Kalkbrenner due to an injury. Greg McDermott’s team then had the lead over San Diego St. for most of the second half of their Elite Eight battle 10 days ago.
If National Player of the Year Zach Edey returns, Purdue will have its entire nucleus back from a team that won the Big Ten regular-season title and the conference tournament. Lest we forget, one year after Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed (UMBC), the Cavaliers beat Texas Tech in overtime to win the 2019 NCAA Tourney. The Boilermakers will try pull off a similar trick next season after falling against 16th-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson.
We’ll never know if Bill Self’s absence played a role in KU’s Round-of-32 exit against Arkansas, but you know Self will have another Final Four contender next season. The Jayhawks will have a pair of starters back in Dajuan Harris and K.J. Adams, and they’re poised to add a top-five recruiting class on top of whatever additions they make from the portal.
The biggest question for Kentucky is whether or not Oscar Tshiebwe will come back. Most mock drafts have him pegged as a mid-to-late second-rounder. Cason Wallace is gone, but John Calipari has the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class on the way to Lexington. Even with those talented imports, it’s hard to have much confidence in the Wildcats going into a make-or-break campaign for Cal’s tenure at UK.
Shaka Smart’s struggles in March have been an issue since VCU’s 2011 run to the Final Four, but Marquette will have a preseason top-five team with every relevant player coming back from a team that won the Big East’s regular-season title and the conference tournament.
Alabama’s roster is in flux and Brandon Miller is off to the NBA where he’ll be a top-five pick in the upcoming draft. However, Nate Oats has shown his ability to reload quickly since his arrival in Tuscaloosa.
Arizona is expected to return a lot of talent, including All-American Azuolas Tubelis. Likewise, San Diego St. hopes to have five of its top six scorers back. The Aztecs have 80/1 odds at DraftKings, but they’re 100/1 at FanDuel.
What about FAU? After allowing a 16-point lead to get away against San Diego St. at the Final Four, the Owls will likely return all five starters. Unless an opening pops up in the coming weeks, head coach Dusty May will be back and you would think that will prevent any exits to the transfer portal. (When Saint Peter’s HC Shaheen Holloway left to return to his alma mater, Seton Hall, much of the talent from the Elite Eight squad hit the portal.)
FAU shares 30/1 odds with Miami at FanDuel. The Hurricanes are also 30/1 at DraftKings, but the Owls are 40/1. Jim Larranaga’s team expects to bring back all of its key players with the exception of Jordan Miller, who is projected as a mid-second-round pick.
After Creighton and KU at 20/1, FanDuel’s next-shortest odds belong to UNC (25/1), UCLA (25/1), Arkansas (25/1), Houston (25/1), Gonzaga (25/1), FAU (30/1), Miami (30/1), Texas (34/1), Tennessee (35/1), TCU (35/1), USC (45/1), Auburn (45/1), Baylor (45/1), Maryland (45/1), Ohio St. (45/1) and Iowa St. (50/1).
Colorado, Oregon, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Kansas St. share 55/1 odds, while Villanova and Wisconsin are both at 60/1. Thirteen teams have 75/1 odds, including Stanford, Providence, Xavier, FSU, St. John’s, Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma St., West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Saint Mary’s.