Gonzaga favored to win 2022 NCAA National Championship
The Gonzaga Bulldogs had a season to remember in 2021, running the table before facing a buzzsaw of a Baylor team that crushed their title hopes as quickly as a Davion Mitchell dribble-drive.
It was an anti-climatic championship game as Baylor pushed out to a double-digit lead early and never looked in doubt of losing. Gonzaga freshman Jalen Suggs picked up two quick fouls, but a larger contributor to the blowout was Gonzaga’s inability to scoop up rebounds or effectively extend its defense out to the perimeter. It exposed Gonzaga’s weaknesses, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t still a great team with plenty to look forward to as a program moving forward.
With the season concluded, let’s turn our eyes to 2022, where Gonzaga is once again installed as the favorite to win it all.
NCAAB Championship 2021/2022
Mon, April 4 2022, 10:00 PM
Ohio State Buckeyes
Alabama Crimson Tide
Illinois Fighting Illini
Gonzaga will lose Suggs and Kispert, but other key contributors may stick around
Gonzaga will be losing its star player in Suggs, as he is certainly a one-and-done departure, and senior Corey Kispert will leave as well. Both their losses in the starting lineup will be felt, but Gonzaga has an opportunity to bring back major contributors Drew Timme, Joel Ayayi, and Andrew Nembhard if they decide to pass on the NBA.
Sallis should shine in Spokane
In addition to those core members of this year’s team, top-100 recruits from a year ago will get the opportunity to flourish and make an impact. Ben Gregg, Dominick Harris, and Julian Strawther should all get more minutes, while incoming five-star freshman Hunter Sallis will also join the squad as a new contributor.
Holmgren will man the middle
Given their weaknesses in the championship game, the presumed biggest addition will be Chet Holmgren, a 7'0" phenom from Minnesota who is expected to sign with Gonzaga and follow Suggs’ footsteps as a one-and-done. Holmgren is an elite defensive talent who should blossom into a solid rebounder. Drew Timme will be the early favorite to be player of the year, Ayayi will likely take on a larger role, and the addition of so many top recruits will make the Gonzaga offense a strong squad yet again.
The Zags are a deserving favorite
While it's still a long way from next year’s championship game, Gonzaga is clearly best-positioned to make a similar run in 2022, and is a deserving favorite at this point in the season. With its easy conference schedule and the powerhouse roster it's created, Gonzaga is almost certainly going to be a No. 1 seed again. That alone makes the Bulldogs a worthy wager as top seeds receive such a significantly greater draw come tournament-time.
I like the Bulldogs to bounce back from their deflating lone loss of 2021 with an even more successful 2022. Mark Few believes in making his team 1% better each day. With pain-induced motivation providing additional fuel to that mindset, 2021’s runner-ups are my pick to claim the title in 2022.