- Joined ESPN in 2014
- Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008
For the second straight year, Gonzaga will tip off the college basketball season as the consensus favorite to win the national championship.
The Zags are the favorites at 6-1 and are the only team with odds in the single digits at Caesars Sportsbooks. Michigan, Villanova and UCLA are next, each at 12-1, followed by Texas, Purdue and Kentucky, which are each 14-1.
Gonzaga joins UCLA, UNLV, North Carolina, Kentucky and Duke as the only teams to be preseason No. 1 in the Associated Press in consecutive years. The Zags are the first team to be preseason national championship favorites in consecutive seasons since Duke in 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
Gonzaga returns 42% of its scoring from last season’s squad, which lost to Baylor in the national championship game. Leading-scorer Drew Timme returns for coach Mark Few’s squad, which also added freshman Chet Holmgren, the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2021 ESPN 100.
The college basketball season gets going Tuesday with a big slate, highlighted by a double-header in the Champions Classic that could mark retiring Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last game at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils are 1-point favorites over Kentucky in the second game. Kansas is a 4.5-point favorite over Michigan State in the first game.
Duke is 16-1 to win the national championship at Caesars Sportsbook, along with Kansas. Michigan State is 30-1.
Gonzaga opens its season Tuesday by hosting Dixie State. Few will not coach against Dixie State as he serves a one-game suspension after being cited for driving under the influence in the offseason.
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