It’s been more than three months now since the Kansas Jayhawks won the 2022 NCAA Championship, beating North Carolina in the final in New Orleans. But with KU losing a lot of talent and several other programs having a much different look for next season, there are a lot of reasons to put an early bet on the veteran Tar Heels. Read on for the 2023 NCAA Championship Picks.
Before diving into the analysis as to why UNC should be a serious contender, make sure to check out the best sites for March Madness betting. Also, be sure to take a look at our NCAA College Basketball betting page for tips and advice on how to wager on College Hoops.
2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Odds
Big Programs Losing Talent
Right now, Gonzaga has the shortest odds to win the 2023 NCAA Championship at +700. However, the only key player actually returning is Drew Timme, who opted to play his senior year before going to the NBA. Chet Holmgren and Andrew Nembhard are gone to the Association and although Mark Few does a great job of recruiting, it’s hard to imagine Gonzaga being as good as they were last season after losing their top guy and best guard. Arizona is another team that was outstanding in 2021-22 yet they’re about to have a very different look. Bennedict Mathurin, Christian Koloko, and Dalen Terry have also taken their talents to the professional level. Expect them to be weaker next year.
Why UNC Needs to be Considered
Following the retirement of legendary head coach Roy Williams, Hubert Davis took over and did a fantastic job in his first season, leading the Tar Heels to a 29-10 record where they beat ACC rivals, Duke, on numerous occasions, most notably in the Final Four. North Carolina did come up short in the National Championship Game as Kansas proved to be superior on that Monday night, but UNC will be feeling extremely confident they could get back to the Final Four and win the entire thing in 2023.
Brady Manek was expected to come back to Chapel Hill but he decided to sign with the Charlotte Hornets as an undrafted free agent. If he did return, that would’ve meant all five of North Carolina’s starters would be wreaking havoc together again. Nonetheless, they still have Leaky Black, Caleb Love, RJ Davis, and Armando Bacot. The latter could’ve likely gone to the NBA but he opted to chase a ring with his college team for another year. This could be the most important factor in UNC’s title aspirations.
Bacot was absolutely dominant all year, averaging 16.1 points and 13.1 rebounds while shooting 56.9% from the field. Bacot was a man possessed in March Madness too, absolutely bodying his opponents on the boards. He grabbed 22 rebounds in the Elite Eight against Saint Peter’s and then another 21 in the Final Four vs. Duke. Heading into his senior season, Bacot should be one of the best bigs in the nation and a surefire prospect in the 2023 NBA Draft. If he does lead UNC to a title, it’s only going to help his draft stock even more, too.
There is also another huge reason why North Carolina cannot be overlooked. Davis and the coaching staff went out and secured the signature of Pete Nance, a Northwestern transfer who was one of the top players available on the transfer portal. More importantly, he’s the immediate replacement for Manek. He’s got tremendous size at 6’10” and can shoot it very well, draining 45% of his triples last season. Nance also averaged 14.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists.
UNC just went through a Cinderella Run of some sort. No one really expected them to make it to the title game in New Orleans and they truly did push the Jayhawks to the brink, losing by a single possession. The Tar Heels collected tremendous experience on the big stage and that’s only going to help them, even more, when it comes going all the way in 2023.
With one of the strongest starting fives in the country who are fundamentally sound on both ends of the floor and still have that sour taste in their mouth of falling just short in April, UNC is absolutely worth an early bet at +750 odds in the 2023 NCAA Championship Picks. Sure, a lot can change between now and the time March 2023 rolls around, but all signs point to this group being very, very good again and even potentially beating out Duke for the ACC title as well.
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