March Madness lived up to its reputation in 2023. Tournament long shots Florida Atlantic, Miami, and San Diego State all defied the odds to reach the Final Four. UConn ultimately prevailed to win its fifth national championship, cashing in on pre-tournament title odds of +2000.
With the rise of the transfer portal, the landscape across college basketball is harder to gauge than ever before. For die hard NCAA fans, it’s still never too early to look ahead. With that in mind, here are some potentially strong NCAA future bets to make the 2023-24 Men’s Final Four in Phoenix.
Ryan Nembhard and Arthur Kaluma were huge losses to the transfer portal. However, Greg McDermott did land Steven Ashworth (Utah State) and Isaac Traudt (Virginia) and also will bring back three double-digit scorers in Baylor Scheierman, Ryan Kalkbrenner, and Trey Alexander.
The Big East is loaded, but Creighton is shaping up to be a preseason Top 15 team.
Nigel Pack and Norchad Omier both went through the NBA Draft process but decided to return to school. The Hurricanes also landed Florida State transfer Matthew Cleveland, helping offset the production lost by Jordan Miller. It will be tough to replace ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong, but Jim Larranaga is adept at adjusting on the fly.
Don’t rush to fade FAU. Dusty May was able to keep a team that won 35 games and made a surprise run to the Final Four. After eschewing the transfer portal, all five starters are back, including leading scorer Johnell Davis. FAU won’t sneak up on anyone like last year when it was a 400/1 pick to make the Final Four. The Owls are a preseason lock for the Top 10, even while stepping up in competition to the AAC.
The Bears are starting over on the perimeter, with Keyonte George and Adam Flagler off to the NBA and LJ Cryer transferring to Houston. But Scott Drew landed two big-time transfers to replace them in MAC Player of the Year Ray J Dennis (Toledo) and Jayden Nunn (VCU). The Bears are also bringing in Ja’Kobe Walter, a McDonald’s All-American.
The Big 12 will be a bear, with Kansas poised to be the preseason No. 1, but Baylor’s talent is undeniable.
The Aggies fizzled out last March, falling in the first round of the NCAA Tournament following a run to the SEC final. But they bring back one of the best guards in the country in Wade Taylor IV, who averaged 16.3 points, per NCAAB team stats. Tyrece Radford also returns, and the Aggies will welcome some key transfers in Jace Carter (UIC) and Eli Lawrence (Middle Tennessee).
All Rick Pitino needed was a couple of months to transform St. John‘s from an afterthought in the Big East to a probable NCAA Tournament team. Pitino retained center Joel Soriano and added a few key transfers, including Jordan Dingle (Penn), Nahiem Alleyne, Glenn Taylor Jr. (Oregon State), and Daniss Jenkins, whom we coached at Iona.
The Final Four would be an enormous jump in Year One, but it’s never wise to count out Pitino. At 20/1 odds, the Red Storm is a strong longshot NCAA future bet.Follow us on Twitter
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