College Basketball Power Rankings Based on National Championship Odds

Juwan Howard and the Michigan Wolverines have the potential to be a top contender in college basketball again this season.
Juwan Howard and the Michigan Wolverines have the potential to be a top contender in college basketball again this season. / IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

With all the sports going on right now including the NFL, the World Series, college football and the NBA, the college basketball season is about to sneak up on all of us.

It seems like it was just yesterday that Baylor dismantled Gonzaga in the March Madness final to win its first ever national championship. Can they repeat? Can the Bulldogs finally get over the hump? Only time will tell, but for now, it’s time to dive into some power rankings.

I, Iain MacMillan, will be in charge of the college basketball power rankings this season, and the power I hold in my fingers while typing these rankings makes me feel unstoppable. Throw the AP Poll out the window, this is where you want to come to find out who the real top teams in the nation are.

Here is my official Top 20 preseason college basketball rankings along with their odds to win the national championship, courtesy of WynnBET Sportsbook.

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (+700)

No surprise here. The Bulldogs are the betting favorites to win the National Championship and they also take the top spot in my preseason power rankings. I don’t care that they seem to always choke in the tournament, they’re still an unbelievable squad. Two of the top five players on the odds list to win the Naismith Player of the Year award are Bulldogs, with one of them being 7-foot freshman phenom Chet Holmgren.

2. UCLA Bruins (+1200)

Not exactly a hot take putting UCLA number two, especially with the run it went on in last year’s tournament. Mick Cronin is one of the best coaches in the country, and the Bruins will be returning almost their entire team from last season. Most notably, Johnny Juzang will be back to lead UCLA. He has the fifth-shortest odds to win the Naismith at +1200.

3. Michigan Wolverines (+1200)

This is my Canadian bias shining through, but keep an eye on Canadian freshman Caleb Houstan. He’s going to take the Big Ten by storm and make the Wolverines national contenders once again. I believe in Juwan Howard.

4. Villanova Wildcats (+1500)

In my opinion, the first three teams on the list are obvious, and the oddsmakers at WynnBET agree, but this is where things get tricky. Collin Gillespie is back for another season after tearing his MCL last year, and that immediately makes the Wildcats a top contender. The only downside to this team is that the Big East will likely cannibalize itself with how competitive it is from top to bottom.

5. Alabama Crimson Tide (+2000)

This is probably my first hot take of the rankings, but I love a team that can shoot the 3-ball. Alabama loves to shoot 3-pointers under Nate Oats, and when it gets hot from beyond the arc, Alabama is almost unbeatable. Keep an eye on five-star freshman J.D. Davidson.

6. Kentucky Wildcats (+1500)

If you like a team that boasts a ton of experienced players, then you’ll like this Kentucky Wildcats squad. They have 12 players on the team with at least one year of division one hoops under their belt. Look to bet on this team early in the season, while other squads with freshman talent figure out their game identity.

7. Memphis Tigers (+1500)

From a natural talent perspective, it’s hard to find a team that’s better than the Memphis Tigers. Emoni Bates and Jalen Duran are future NBA prospects, and they’re also returning two solid starters in Landers Nolley II and DeAndre Williams. If nothing else, the team will be exciting to watch.

8. Kansas Jayhawks (+1500)

I’m not as sold on Kansas this season as some other people are, but it’s hard to drop them too far down my power rankings. Arizona State transfer Remy Martin is a huge addition for this team, but the Jayhawks need to shoot better than they did last year if they want to go on a run in the tournament.

9. Illinois Fighting Illini (+2500)

You’re not going to see me being the one to rank an Illinois team led by Kofi Cockburn outside of the top 10, no matter what the odds might say. Is the team deep enough to be a legitimate contender for the national championship? We’ll see, but Cockburn will be able to carry this team for the majority of the season.

10. Oregon Ducks (+3000)

It’s tough to exactly judge just how good the Ducks will be this season with the amount of incoming transfers, but I think they’re the second-best team in the Pac-12 next to UCLA. Will Richardson is going to emerge as one of the top players in the country.

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11. Purdue Boilermakers (+2000)

It’s tough to find as team that’s as well rounded as Purdue. The Boilermakers may not have any one player that’s going to take college basketball by storm, but they’re as complete as a team can get. Trevion Williams will lead this squad to a successful season, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they’re a No. 2 or No. 3 seed by the time the tournament rolls around.

12. Arkansas Razorbacks (+3000)

Arkansas was one of my favorite teams to bet on last season, and I was tempted to put them in the top 10 this year. Eric Musselman is one of the best coaches in the country, and he knows how to get the most out of his players.

13. Ohio State Buckeyes (+2000)

E.J. Lidell, Kyle Young and Justice Sueing will be the cornerstone players on this team. Their lack of defense last year (233rd in defensive efficiency) concerns me a bit, but if they can buckle down on their own side of the court, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

14. St. Bonaventure Bonnies (+5000)

The Bonnies! The Atlantic 10 is, for some reason, my favorite conference to watch and bet on and St. Bonaventure will be the kings of it in the 2021-22 season. The Bonnies earned themselves a No. 9 seed in the tournament last year, and basically their entire roster is back for another season. Their defense, especially, will give any and all teams trouble.

15. Houston Cougars (+3000)

Houston made it to the Final Four last year, and it could be primed to go on another run this season. A strong defense can carry a team a long way, and the Cougars are returning a significant core of players from last year’s squad.

16. Texas Longhorns (+1500)

Texas fans are going to hate that I have them ranked so low, as last year’s Big 12 champions have high expectations for this season. The reason I have the Longhorns ranked outside of the top 15 is turnovers. The Longhorns ranked 271st in turnovers per game last season and lost to Abilene Christian in the first round of the tournament because of that. Until they fix their turnover issue, I can’t rank them inside the top 10.

17. Baylor Bears (+2000)

Baylor lost Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell last season, but Matthew Mayer and Jonathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua are back. The Bears also got a key transfer, James Akinjo from Arizona. While they won’t win back-to-back national championships, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ll be a solid squad until I’m shown otherwise.

18. Tennessee Volunteers (+5000)

I’m a sucker for good defensive teams, and that’s exactly what the Volunteers boast. If freshman Kennedy Chandler can give them some offensive power, they could be a team that nobody will want to play come March.

19. Florida State (+3000)

The Seminoles managed to get the No. 2 recruiting class in the ACC, while also getting inbound transfer Cam’Ron Fletcher from Kentucky and Caleb Mills from Houston. Their size, length, and well-balanced offense will cause their opponents issues throughout the season.

20. Duke (+1500)

Spare me with the “it’s Coach K’s last season, they’re going to be motivated to go out on a win for him” narrative. The game has passed Mike Kryzyzewski by, and to be honest, Duke will be better with him out of the picture the following year. This season will be an ego trip for a head coach who loves to make it about himself, as he gives himself a farewell tour at every school they play at... That’s not a good recipe for success.