2021–22 College Basketball Futures Outlook: Gonzaga and UCLA
The 2021–22 college basketball season is still 29 weeks away, but with odds for next year’s champion already out for the public eye, now is as good a time as ever to examine odds of the top contenders. As rosters fluctuate, players examine their draft statuses and coaches keep a close eye on the transfer market, here are is an early outlook on Gonzaga and UCLA’s chances in 2022.
NOTE: All odds courtesy of vegasinsider.com (4/13/21)
BUY: Gonzaga (9–1)
The Bulldogs title-or-bust season came to a non-thrilling end on the big stage against Baylor. The good news for Bulldogs fans is that a quick reload is expected.
Despite losing several star players such as Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi to the professional ranks, the Bulldogs bring back many integral pieces from last year. Elite post presence Drew Timme returns to torch teams on the low block, and swiss army knife guard Andrew Nembhard gives this team another crucial veteran in the backcourt.
On the recruiting front, Mark Few brings in one five-star point guard to replace another. 6-foot-5 guard Hunter Sallis mitigates the loss of Suggs and brings athleticism, scoring and exceptional passing ability to Gonzaga’s lineup.
And Few isn’t done there.
Gonzaga is already projected as the best team in the country next year, and the rich may soon get richer. It is widely believed that the number one recruit in the 2021 class, Chet Holmgren, will commit to Gonzaga. His crystal ball prediction is currently 100 percent to Gonzaga, per 247sports.com. Add Holmgren to the mix, and this team will be an even greater clear-cut favorite to cut down the nets for the first time.
SELL: UCLA (20–1)
UCLA is coming off one of the more miraculous runs in NCAA Tournament history. It may be far fetched to call the Bruins a Cinderella story given their winning history, but their First Four to Final Four feat will nonetheless go down as one of the better sports stories in recent years.
The Bruins are projected to bring back nearly 80 percent of their minutes from last year, but they also more than likely lose their star player from the NCAA Tournament in Johnny Juzang. Juzang went on the best scoring run of any UCLA player since Lew Alcindor.
Because of this high-scoring stretch of games, Juzang will likely stay in the draft and be a late first round pick. Its also worth mentioning that prior to the NCAA Tournament, UCLA had lost four games in a row and were a bubble team toward the end of the season. As easy as it is to buy into their impressive six game stretch in March and early April, their 17–9 regular season can’t be ignored either.
The return of steady point guard Tyger Campbell and the addition of five-star recruit Peyton Willis and Rutgers transfer Myles Johnson help immensely, but don’t expect the Bruins to have the same kind of success they did in 2021. They are a definite tournament team, but another Final Four run will be a tall task.