Every list and ranking you need for the 2021-22 college basketball season, with gratitude to Dick Vitale

College basketball fans will be grateful for Dickie V's ultimate triumphant return to the mic. ESPN Images

The late, great Skip Prosser used to say "never delay gratitude."


I am so grateful for so many things around the game as we enter the 2021-22 season.

Gratitude is the overwhelming feeling after a 2021 season that was compromised by the global pandemic. There is renewed hope of a return to normalcy this season, which means fans in the stands. The play last year was great, even that games were played at all. But the environments were far from normal. They were quiet, even sterile. They lacked the energy and enthusiasm of a full house. It was like a comedy club with no crowd. The comedians' jokes were just as funny and just as well-delivered, but the experience was lacking without people in the audience laughing. Let's hope that the 2021-22 season brings back full, loud and boisterous crowds to cheer on the players. They deserve it. We all do.

I am also grateful that we have so many quality players returning. The game is older and more experienced than in past seasons, and there will be seniors, "Super Seniors," and upperclassmen leading the way. We always say we want that, even though it is more of a value judgment than a reality. And, I am grateful for such a great incoming class of freshmen, full of so many Uber-talented newbies adding to the mix.

I am grateful for one more year to celebrate Mike Krzyzewski, arguably the greatest coach of all time, and watch his team make another run at a title. I am eternally grateful that we have many more years of iconic coaches like Tom Izzo, Jay Wright, Mark Few, Tony Bennett and Bill Self. The game has always had outstanding coaches, and the changing of the older guard doesn't mean the game isn't still in the best of hands. It is.

I am grateful that we had Roy Williams in the game for so long, and that we have an outstanding coaching talent in Hubert Davis taking over since his retirement.

And, I am forever grateful for Dick Vitale, the face and voice of the game for over forty years now. Dickie V is going through a tough bout with cancer, and fighting hard through chemotherapy so he can return to the microphone as soon as possible. I know that he will. This Opus is dedicated to the great Dick Vitale, without whom the game would simply not be the same. Get back soon, Dickie V!

As all of you know by now, the Opus is the definitive, predictive view of the game, providing the most comprehensive perspective of the college basketball landscape in the universe. The Opus is not a "preview," it is the most accurate road map of what will happen in this upcoming season. What provides The Opus with such a crystal ball-like panorama of the game? The gigantic, supercharged cranium of The Bilastrator, which is chock full of more basketball knowledge than all Hall of Fame coaches (living and dead) combined. The Opus tells you exactly which teams, players and coaches will impact the upcoming season, and can be used by the masses to take down every wagering outlet on the planet, if one would so choose. So, use the Opus wisely, as it can crash the global economy if used for evil instead of good.

The Opus will provide you with the top title favorites, the top Final Four contenders, the best mid-majors, All-Americans, top shooters, top defenders and best basketball environments. The Opus is never wrong; it is always right. The Opus is, without reasonable debate, the $#!+. Real recognize real. And, speaking of gratitude, let's address your gratitude for the Opus.

You're welcome.

2021-22 Bilastrator's Top National Championship Favorites

As is always true in the Opus, the national champion will come from this stellar group. It never fails, as the Opus annually identifies the champion and the true contenders:

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Despite what the Zags lost from last season's spectacular squad that reached the title game, Gonzaga will be formidable. Back are Drew Timme, the best offensive big man in the nation, and Andrew Nembhard, one of the top playmaking guards in the country, Add in super freshman Chet Holmgren, who can do everything at 7-feet tall, and an improved Anton Watson, and you have another Gonzaga team worthy of a No. 1 ranking and cutting down the nets at the end of the season.