The college basketball season is right around the corner, which means it is time to see what teams are the best fit for making a deep run come March. Roster construction is a major key when looking at who is capable of winning a championship.
Many think that having a deep, talented recruiting class full of five stars is how you do it. In that case, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Kansas would be winning championships every year. That just doesn’t happen. Over the past five years, only North Carolina has won a championship.
You will see a common denominator when you see the five teams that I am going to list below, they all have experience mixed with young talent. Here are my top five teams to cut down the nets in 2022.
Returning: Courtney Ramey, Andrew Jones
Key Additions: Tre Mitchell, Christian Bishop, Devin Askew, Marcus Carr, Timmy Allen.
Losses: Matt Coleman, Jericho Sims, Greg Brown.
Chris Beard comes to Texas from Texas Tech, asserting his dominance on the recruiting trail right away. The Longhorns have had one of the best off-seasons in the transfer portal. Texas lands two of the top-50 scorers in the country, Tre Mitchell and Marcus Carr. Both have tremendous offensive talent, which will be far from a problem for the Longhorns this season.
As the newcomers bring in outstanding depth, the returning players for Chris Beard are just as important. Courtney Ramey and Andrew Jones are both coming back. This adds an extreme amount of experience to the squad since both were such key contributors for the Longhorns a season ago. Chris Beard’s first season as head coach in Austin has the potential to start out with a bang. Texas has the pieces to contend for a title right from the get-go.
Returning: Drew Timme, Andrew Nembhard, Anton Watson
Key Additions: Chet Holmgren, Hunter Sallis,
Losses: Corey Kispert, Jalen Suggs, Joel Ayayi
It seems like Gonzaga is in contention for a national title every single year. No, it is not because they play in the West Coast Conference, they are just that good. Over the past four seasons, Gonzaga finished runner-up in two March Madness tournaments.
Mark Few seems to get the talent every year, but this year is different. Few lands Chet Holmgren, who is looked at as a generational talent by many. Before Mark Few got Holmgren, another five-star decided to come to Spokane, Washington. Five-star Hunter Sallis, committed to Gonzaga about a month before Holmgren did.
This might just be the year for the Bulldogs to jump over the hurdle and win a championship. Drew Timme returns for his junior season, being the favorite to win National Player of the Year. Andrew Nembhard has proven to be a capable starter for Mark Few, starting in half of the games he played in last season. This may sound cliché, but Gonzaga is a front-runner once again to win their first NCAA Tournament title.
Returning: Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels, Justin Moore
Losses: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Cole Swider
Villanova took a beating last season with injuries, losing both Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore to significant injuries days apart from each other. Gillespie ended his season on March 3rd with a torn MCL. Justin Moore suffered a severely sprained ankle on March 6th. Just days apart, Villanova’s season went from a competitive, potential title-winning team, to a possible first-round exit.
Losing Jeremiah Robinson-Earl down low is a huge hit for the Wildcats, but returning a fifth-year Collin Gillespie is just what Jay Wright wants. The trio of Gillespie, Samuels, and Moore will be fun to watch as the season progresses. Hoping for an injury-free season, Jay Wright and the Wildcats are in a prime position for their third national title in six years.
Returning: Jaden Ivey, Trevion Williams, Sasha Stefanivic, Zach Edey
All you need to know here is that Purdue returns basically every one of significance from last season. This is a maximum experienced team. Head Coach Matt Painter is expecting a big leap from Jaden Ivey coming into the year. Being able to watch both Ivey and Edey in the U19 championships this summer, big leaps are what we are going to see.
Expect Purdue to battle for the top spot in the Big Ten when the standings are coming together in early March. Purdue is not only looking for a Big Ten championship, they are looking for the national championship.
Returning: Hunter Dickinson, Eli Brooks, Brandon Johns
Key Additions: The whole recruiting class, DaVante’ Jones
Michigan took home the top spot in the Big Ten last season and is looking to do so again in 2022. Juwan Howard is bringing in a stack of elite young talent. The Wolverine recruiting class is highlighted by five stars Caleb Houstan, and Moussa Diabate. Frankie Collins is another key addition to the Michigan backcourt.
There is no need to take an in-depth look at Hunter Dickinson if you were watching him last season. Dickinson comes into his sophomore season as a contender for National Player of the Year, plus many other awards. There is a well-oiled machine in Ann Arbor, the whole country will be watching Juwan Howard and the Wolverines.
Darkhorse Pick: Arkansas Razorbacks
Returning: JD Notae
Key Additions: Stanley Umude, Chris Lykes, Au’Diese Toney
Key Losses: Moses Moody, Justin Smith, Jalen Tate
Arkansas is a sneaky pick here if you are looking for a team that has the potential to win a national championship. The Razorbacks made a run to the Elite Eight last year, before getting knocked out by Baylor, who eventually won the title. The one player I want to watch for at Arkansas is Stanley Umude. He is a transfer from South Dakota and reminds me of Saint Louis’ Jordan Goodwin. Umude can score at a consistent clip and can rebound the basketball like a big.
Eric Musselman did a great job dipping his toes in the transfer portal this off-season, ending with one of the best transfer lists in the country outside of teams like Kentucky and Texas. The Muss Bus is head closer and closer to a national title, this might be Arkansas’ year.
There are plenty of teams worthy of making this list of teams who are in contention for the 2022 national championship. Looking at the rosters, teams like Duke, Kentucky, Memphis are all capable of making a run. The five teams that are listed above are in my honest opinion the teams that have the best shot.
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