Gonzaga head coach Mark Few watches from the bench during the first half of the championship game against Baylor in the men’s Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, April 5, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
- Gonzaga’s odds to win the 2022 NCAA Tournament improved from +900 to +700 when Chet Holmgren announced he will play for the Bulldogs
- Holmgren, a 7-foot-1 center from Minnesota, is considered the top recruit in this year’s high-school class
- A look at how Gonzaga shapes up for 2021-22 along with the odds for other national title contenders can be found below
Gonzaga landed the top recruit in the nation Monday and the Bulldogs’ odds to win the 2022 national championship immediately improved.
Chet Holmgren committed to Gonzaga, which lost to Baylor in the NCAA Tournament championship game two weeks ago to finish the season 31-1 and miss becoming the first undefeated team since Indiana in 1975-76.
The 7-foot-1 native of Minnesota is considered the likely first-overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Gonzaga, already the favorite, saw its 2022 March Madness odds go from +900 to +700 moments after Holmgren announcement he was headed to Spokane.
2022 NCAA Tournament Championship Odds
Odds as of April 19 at DraftKings.
A Unique Talent
Though 7-1, Holmgren has the shooting and ball-handling skills of a guard. That is why every major program in the country recruited him out of Minnehaha Academy. But it was Mark Few who landed him.
Five-Star prospect Chet Holmgren has committed to Gonzaga, he announced. Top player in the 2021 class.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 19, 2021
Holmgren said he likes how Few takes the talent on hand then tweaks his system depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the roster.
This past season as a senior, Holmgren averaged 20.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 4.7 blocked shots while shooting an astounding 80% from the field. Minnehaha won the Class AAA state championship in each of his four seasons.
Holmgren chose Gonzaga over Ohio State, Michigan, North Carolina, Minnesota, Memphis, Georgetown, and Maryland.
Holmgren is following in the footsteps of Jalen Suggs, who helped lead Gonzaga to the national final as a freshman decided Monday that he is entering the NBA Draft. Suggs is also from Minnesota and close friends with Holmgren.
2021 World Series Odds Tracker
Where Does Holmgren Fit?
Holmgren will obviously play a big role for Gonzaga, which loses forward Corey Kispert to graduation and Suggs and forward Joel Ayayi to the pros.
Forward Drew Timme and guard Andrew Nembhard are still deciding whether to stay in college or declare for the draft. If Timme comes back for his junior season, he and Holmgren would give Gonzaga undoubtedly the best pair of big men in college basketball.
DREW TIMME IS TAKING OVER 😤 pic.twitter.com/uobICSZ7Tt
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 4, 2021
The 6-foot-10 Timme averaged 19.0 points and 7.0 rebounds this past season, both team-leading figures. KenPom.com ranked the sophomore as college basketball’s best player, ahead of National Player of the Year Luka Garza from Iowa.
Meanwhile, Gonzaga is expecting big things from rising junior forward Anton Watson, who averaged 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds.
The Bulldogs believe five-star recruit Hunter Sallis from Omaha, Nebraska, can take Suggs’ place in the backcourt. If Nembhard returns for his junior season, that would solidify the point.
Hunter Sallis commits to GONZAGA… huge pickup for the Zags 🚨 @HunterSallis_ (via @AveryQuad) pic.twitter.com/kdoyXX2MtE
— Overtime (@overtime) March 26, 2021
Thus, Gonzaga appears to be in strong position to win at least 30 games for a sixth straight season in 2021-22.
While Gonzaga is the favorite to win its first national title next season, the oddsmakers believe the Zags should have stiff competition from such teams as Villanova, Michigan, and UCLA.
Villanova’s hopes got a huge boost when star point guard Collin Gillespie took advantage of an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA and decided to return for a fifth season. Gillespie injured a knee late in the regular season, underwent surgery, and missed the NCAA Tournament.
Coaches: What “solution” do you have for your kids for the “big-little switch?” We showed you in past the “boomerang pass” right back to the guard who gets downhill quickly. @NovaMBB Collin Gillespie sets it up with the shot fake after he makes the previous jump shot. pic.twitter.com/nakfBdDc0g
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) December 24, 2020
Michigan has some restocking to do. However, coach Juwan Howard should have a major building block in rising sophomore center Hunter Dickinson, who is expected to return to Ann Arbor for at least one more season.
UCLA took Gonzaga to overtime in the national semifinals before Suggs hit a three-pointer from 40 feet at the buzzer for the win. The Bruins are keeping their fingers crossed that March breakout star Johnny Juzang comes back for his junior year. They should at least have scorer Jaime Jacquez Jr. and point guard Tyger Campbell in the lineup.
Yet with the addition of Holmgren, Gonzaga is clearly the number-one team on paper for the 2021-22 season.
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.