March Madness is upon us and the race for the NCAA Basketball champion is about to go full tilt Below are some important dates for the upcoming NCAA Basketball tournament.
- First Four: March 15 & 16
- First Round: March 17 & 18
- Second Round: March 19 & 20
- Sweet 16: March 24 & 25
- Elite Eight: March 26 & 27
- Final Four: April 2 at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans
- National Championship: April 4 at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans
Last season saw Baylor win the NCAA title with a 86-70 win over Gonzaga. Despite that setback, the Gonzaga Bulldogs were the preseason favorites to win the 2022 NCAAB championship. Gonzaga has spent most of the 2021-22 NCAAB season at, or near, the top of the AP poll. With that being said, Baylor is in the mix to make another deep run in the NCAAB tournament.
There are also some surprising teams in the mix for Final Four consideration, including Arizona, a team that was not on many – if any – preseason top-25 lists before the start of the 2021-22 NCAAB season.
Odds to win the 2022 NCAAB Championship
The Gonzaga Bulldogs went 8-2 in their first 10 games of the 2021-22 NCAAB season. The team then won its next 17 games before dropping a 67-57 game to Saint Marys on February 26. Gonzaga got an event with Saint Marys on March 8, beating them 82-69. The Bulldogs are the No. 1 ranked team in the AP poll heading into March Madness and the No. 1 seed in the West bracket.
Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren lead the Bulldogs in scoring heading into the tournament. Timme averaged 17.5 points. 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists, while Holmgren contributed 14.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game for Gonzaga.
Pick: Gonzaga to win the West
The Kentucky Wildcats finished the regular season with a record 26-7, which put them in first place in the SEC. Kentucky’s longest winning streak of the season was seven games in the early going of the 2022 campaign, but the Wildcats did not lose back-to-back games all season, but they did wrap up the year on a 5-3 run with two losses to Tennessee during that stretch.
Kentucky is the No. 7 ranked team in the AP poll and the team has the No. 2 seed behind Baylor in the East bracket. Oscar Tshiebwe was the driving force behind the Kentucky offense in 2022. He led the team in points per game (17), rebounds per game (15.1), blocks per game (1.6), and steals per game (1.8) while playing 31.5 minutes per contest.
Pick: Kentucky to win the East
The Arizona Wildcats were on the list of “others receiving votes” when the AP released its Top-25 list before the start of the 2021-22 NCAAB season. Arizona went 31-3 during the 2022 NCAAB season and finished in the top spot in the Pac-12. The Wildcats are currently the No. 2 team in the AP poll.
Arizona’s only losses during the season came to Tennessee, UCLA, and Colorado. They avenged the setbacks to the Bruins and Buffaloes in the final two games of the year but did not get a second matchup against the Volunteers.
Arizona is the No. 1 seeded team in the South heading into March Madness. The Wildcats’ leading scorer during the 2022 NCAAB season was Bennedict Mathurin, who contributed 17.4 points per game, 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and one steal on an average of 32.1 minutes per game.
Pick: Arizona to win the South
The Auburn Tigers went 27-5 during the 2022 NCAAB season and finished the season as the No. 1 team in the SEC. The Tigers had a fantastic first run between November and early February when they went 22-1 and had a 19-game winning streak. However, Auburn finished the season with a run of 5-4 and that’s a bit worrisome for the club who started the season as the No. 22 team in the preseason AP Poll.
The Tigers are currently the No. 8 team according to the AP and sit in the No. 2 spot in the Midwest bracket behind Kansas. Jabari Smith paced the Tigers in scoring in 2022 with 17.1 points per game, 7 rebounds, 1.9 assists. 1.2 steals and 1 block on an average of 28.4 minutes played.
Pick: Auburn to win the Midwest
Pick to win 2022 NCAAB championship
Gonzaga has been a force all year and the team looks like it has what it takes to bounce back from its loss in the 2021 NCAAB championship.