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.