College basketball season starts next week, and the sport's top officials have already explained their intent to host the 2021 NCAA Tournament in a controlled environment. So all indications are that a champion will be crowned this season, unlike last season when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the season to be cut short.
With the preseason polls out, expectations are taking shape for who will be left standing at the end. Though the NCAA Tournament will inevitably bring surprises, upsets and mayhem, there are some top programs built to survive the fray. There also some programs getting little respect in the preseason that have the ingredients to make a run that few are forecasting.
Here is a breakdown of why 15 teams from four distinct categories could be good bets to win the national championship, starting with picks from the group of frontrunners and spanning all the way to four longshot teams with odds of 100-1 or worse. The exercise is not necessarily meant to predict the champion -- because obviously Kentucky and Kansas have a better shot than Providence and Missouri -- but rather to identify the programs with the best betting value, according to odds from the William Hill Sportsbook.