Vegas always wins.
But Vegas isn’t always right.
Sure, I looked at the Vegas odds for which teams have the best shot at cutting down the nets in Houston at April’s Final Four. But I also looked at the polls. And I talked to coaches. And I pored over the KenPom.com analytics. And I watched way, way too much basketball.
So now, as conference play in college hoops begins, I bring you my 10 teams most likely to win it all in April. I take into account everything: not just a team’s showing in a dozen or so games so far this season but also its potential for growth over the next three months, a coach’s history at boosting his team when it matters most, injury history, a superstar’s potential to put his team on his shoulders – and, of course, my gut.
Feeling generous after the holidays, I even threw in five sleeper teams who could come out of nowhere and make the Final Four. Enjoy. And debate. There’s one program you’ll be surprised isn’t in my top 10.
1. Kansas. Find a flaw on this team. I dare you. I know I can’t. Depth, experience, balance, shooting, explosiveness, defense – it’s all there. It’s like a Noah’s Ark of basketball in Lawrence because Bill Self has two of everything: Two point guards (Frank Mason and Devonte Graham), two stud freshmen (Cheick Diallo and Calton Bragg), two dead-eye shooters (Brannen Greene and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk) and two upperclassmen who are having their best seasons and who on any given night can be the best player on the team (Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis). It’s Self’s fastest-paced team in Lawrence, which jibes well with the new rules in college hoops. I’m feeling good about my preseason pick to win it all.