Down as many as 16 points in the first half, Kansas stormed back to beat North Carolina 72-69 in a thrilling NCAA Tournament national championship game Monday night from New Orleans for the program's fourth national title and first since 2008. The 16-point deficit was the largest ever overcome to win a championship, surpassing the previous record of 15 points set by Loyola Chicago against Cincinnati in 1963. Can Kansas repeat in 2023? Caesars Sportsbook oddsmakers have installed Coach Bill Self's club as the +1000 favorite.
Entering this season, Kansas had come back from 15 down at half to win a game just twice in school history. In January, they did it to beat Kansas State and the Monday to the Tar Heels. UNC had been 46-0 in the NCAA Tournament all-time when leading by double digits at the half, the longest streak by any team in Big Dance history.
Kansas is Kansas so of course it will be one of the best teams in the country next season, but there needs to be a huge asterisk with those favored title odds.
For one, Self is expected to lose a lot of talent in the likes of Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Christian Braun, Mitch Lightfoot and Remy Martin. Agbaji was his conference's Player of the Year (Big 12), conference tournament Most Outstanding Player and the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. The last player to win all three in a season was Duke's Shane Battier in 2001.
The bigger issue is looming sanctions dating back to the FBI scandal from the NCAA, which in 2019 accused Kansas of five Level I violations (the most serious) -- none involving players on this year's team, so the title will be not stripped. The NCAA named Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend personally in accusing them of "intentionally and willfully engaging in NCAA violations."
KU became ensnared in the same federal probe that exposed pay-for-play corruption in the spot and has led to the dismissal of coaches Rick Pitino at Louisville, Sean Miller at Arizona and more recently Will Wade at LSU. Could Self decide to walk away on top, not deal with the sanctions and try his hand at the NBA?
CBS Sports' Matt Norlander is reporting that "the damage will be severe — and coming soon. A ruling on Kansas happening in the near-future is probable. … There's a chance Kansas could be banned from the 2023 postseason."
While we don't yet know KU's 2022-23 schedule, it will play in the Champions Classic on Nov. 8 from Indianapolis against Duke in the Blue Devils' first game in the post-Mike Krzyzewski era. Duke is +1500 to win it all next season.
Gonzaga is a +1200 second favorite, with Arizona and Kentucky also +1500 with Duke. It's incredibly hard to handicap NCAA basketball futures this early until players decide if they are turning pro or transferring – and which players might transfer in. Gonzaga is definitely losing star freshman center Chet Holmgren as he may be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
CBS Sports' Gary Parrish is listing UCLA (+1800) as his early preseason No. 1 with North Carolina (+1800) at No. 2 (and Kansas at No. 8), but Parrish is banking on several key players on both teams returning to school.
The 2023 Final Four is April 1 from NRG Stadium in Houston and the national title game on April 3.
Caesars Sportsbook favorites to win 2023 NCAA Tournament
- Kansas +1000
- Gonzaga +1200
- Kentucky +1500
- Arizona +1500
- Duke +1500
- Arkansas +1600
- Houston +1800
- UCLA +1800
- North Carolina +1800
- Baylor +1800
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