The college basketball landscape is ever-changing, and with the constant addition and subtraction of players transferring and coaches switching jobs (which has admittedly been at a minimum), the odds of the NCAA title futures need to change with it.
Today, I want to take a quick look at who are currently good bets to win the title and whose championship aspirations are still very much in flux. These are the teams you should hammer and the teams you should fade.
Hammer: Villanova at 10-1
Right now, the Wildcats are the best team in the nation. The return of Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is both shocking and awesome at the same time. Two-time national championship coach Jay Wright will return eight of his top nine players next season with the only exception being leading scorer Saddiq Bey, the Julius Erving Award winner from last season.
Bey officially announced he will stay in the draft on Tuesday morning, but Villanova could still open the season as No. 1.
Fade: Gonzaga at 9-1
Look, I like Gonzaga a lot, but right now, there are too many unknowns with Mark Few’s roster. Corey Kispert, Fillip Petrusev, and Joel Ayayi are all testing the NBA draft process.
If all three decide to either stay in or pursue other opportunities, whether it be the G-League or overseas, the Zags will have lost their top six players from last season’s team. On the flip side, if Petrusev stays in the draft and the other two return, you may be able to land better odds.
Hammer: Virginia at 11-1
I was down on Tony Bennett’s team heading into last season, but they really turned it on down the stretch and were primed for another deep tournament run. Kihei Clark is a star, and it’s almost a certainty that Jay Huff will be returning.
Casey Morsell should take a huge leap during his sophomore seasons after struggling as a freshman, and Tomas Woldentensae should be more reliable this season.
Fade: Kentucky at 13-1
I am firmly on the “Calipari is a genius” wagon, but this Kentucky roster is concerning. The Wildcats are losing their top six players from last season, and the incoming class is not as stellar as in seasons past outside of future top-five pick BJ Boston.
Davion Mintz, a transfer from Creighton, has efficiency issues and some huge shoes to fill with the Ashton Hagans departure. I’m not from Missouri, but the Wildcats need to show me before I start buying.
Hammer: Iowa at 20-1
My gut feeling is that Luka Garza is going to return to school. If that happens and Jordan Bohannon is healed from his hip injury, this is a top 10 team.
The backcourt of Joe Wiescamp and CJ Frederick is one of the best in the Big Ten, and Bohannon is a career 40% shooter from behind the arc. I love this Hawkeyes team, and they are absolutely worth a sprinkle before Garza returns. If the big guy does come back, this line will shrink a great deal.
Fade: Baylor at 11-1
I have said this during the entire offseason: So many things went correctly for Baylor last season, and their defense was a huge part of that. The loss of Freddie Gillespie cannot be understated, and there is still a possibility that Jared Butler remains in the NBA Draft after a fantastic season last year.
The defense will once again be stellar with the return of Mark Vital, MaCio Teague, and Davion Mitchell, but I think if you are really on board this Baylor train, you will be able to get better odds on the future once the season starts. I expect there to be growing pains.