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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | October 5, 2021

8 men's basketball Final Four dark horses for the 2022 NCAA tournament, according to Andy Katz

8 Final Four darkhorse picks for 2022 March Madness

On the latest March Madness 365 podcast (#MM365) March Madness correspondent Andy Katz is joined by Mark Titus and Tate Frazier of FOX Sports' "Titus & Tate" to preview several conferences for the 2021-22 season, and Katz also talks with Arkansas coach Eric Musselman. Katz also ranked his top eight Final Four dark horses.

You can listen to the latest #MM365 podcast below.

Here are Katz's top eight Final Four dark horses for the 2022 NCAA tournament:

Albert Cesare | USA Today Sports Images Syracuse advanced to the Sweet 16 in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

1. Syracuse

The Orange was two wins shy of the Final Four last season, even though it was a No. 11 seed. Syracuse upset No. 6 seed San Diego State 78-62 and then No. 3 seed West Virginia 75-72, before falling to No. 2 seed Houston in the Sweet 16.

Syracuse never won more than three games in a row all season, when it finished with an 18-10 record overall, but it won back-to-back games at the most important time of the season. There will be three Boeheims in the program next season as Cornell transfer Jimmy Boeheim (16.7 points per game in the 2019-20 season) joins his brother Buddy (17.8 points per game in 2021) in playing for their father Jim.

Last season, Buddy Boeheim posted the best shooting numbers of his career (49.1 percent from two, 38.3 percent from 3) and he reached a high level of scoring consistency starting in February that will make him an All-America candidate this season. He scored at least 12 points in each of his final 12 games, including six games with at least 25 points. Joseph Girard III (9.8 points per game in 2021) also returns and Syracuse added Villanova transfer Cole Swider (5.2 points per game in three seasons at Villanova) to its roster in the offseason.

Aaron Doster | USA TODAY Sports Images Trayce Jackson-Davis was a Third Team All-American as a sophomore.

2. Indiana

Indiana alum Mike Woodson enters his first season as the head coach at his alma mater, which hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 2016. The Hoosiers posted a 12-15 (7-12 Big Ten) record last season but they return an All-America candidate in forward Trayce Jackson-Davis (19.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last season), plus Race Thompson (9.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game) and Rob Phinisee (7.1 points per game), while adding transfers Xavier Johnson (14.2 points and 5.7 assists per game at Pitt last season), Parker Stewart (19.2 points per game at UT-Martin in 2019-20), Miller Kopp (11.3 points per game at Northwestern) and Michael Durr (8.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game at South Florida).

If Mike Woodson can bring some of the pacing and spacing of the NBA game, while integrating its roster additions, then Indiana (No. 70 nationally in offensive efficiency last season, per kenpom.com) could see a significant year-over-year improvement.

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Vincent Carchietta | USA TODAY Sports Images UConn's R.J. Colle (12.2 points per game) is the Huskies' leading returning scorer.

3. UConn

The Huskies ended their NCAA tournament drought last season, making the Big Dance for the first time since 2016, but UConn bowed out in the first round as a No. 7 seed. UConn lost its leading scorer from last season, James Bouknight, to the NBA, but the Huskies return the bulk of their rotation players from last season, namely R.J. Cole (12.2 points per game), Tyrese Martin (10.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game) and Isaiah Whaley (8.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game)

In UConn coach Dan Hurley's first three seasons in Storrs, the Huskies have improved from No. 98 on kenpom.com to No. 52 to No. 21. If that trend continues in 2022, UConn could emerge as a Final Four contender.

Adam Cairns | USA TODAY Sports Images JD Notae is Arkansas' leading returning scorer.

4. Arkansas

Arkansas, which won the 1994 national championship and played for the '95 title, endured decades without anything resembling an NCAA tournament run. After making the Sweet 16 in 1996, the Razorbacks didn't advance past the second round of the tournament until last season, when second-year head coach Eric Musselman led Arkansas to a 25-win season, a No. 3 seed and the Elite Eight. The Razorbacks had a top-10 defense and played at a top-20 tempo nationally, according to kenpom.com.

Arkansas will have to replace its top two scorers from last season — Moses Moody (16.8 points per game) and Justin Smith (13.6 points per game) — but the team returns JD Notae (12.8 points per game) and Davonte Davis (8.5 points per game), while adding transfers including former Miami (FL) guard Chris Lykes, who averaged 15.4 points per game in the 2019-20 season, Pitt's Au'Diese Toney (14.4 points per game) and South Dakota transfer Stanley Umude (21.5 points per game).

Tommy Gilligan | USA TODAY Sports Images Eric Ayala returned to Maryland after being the Terrapins' leading scorer last season.

5. Maryland

The Terrapins return some key contributors from last season's team, which made the NCAA tournament as a No. 10 seed, including leading scorer Eric Ayala (15.1 points per game), forward Donta Scott (11.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game) and Hakim Hart (7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game). Maryland also added key transfers in Fatts Russell (14.7 points per game last season at Rhode Island) and Qudus Wahab (12.7 and 8.2 rebounds per game at Georgetown).

BRACKET PROJECTIONS: Andy Katz's first 2022 NCAA tournament preseason bracket picks

Joshua Bickel | USA TODAY Sports Images LSU's Darius Days is the team's leading returning scorer.

6. LSU

Last season, LSU had the fifth-most efficient offense in the country (120.1 points per 100 possessions), per kenpom.com. Darius Days (11.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season) is the team's leading returning scorer and the Tigers added a pair of key transfers in Adam Miller (Illinois) and Xavier Pinson (Missouri).

Doug McSchooler | USA TODAU Sports Images Florida's Colin Castleton averaged 12.4 points per game last season.

7. Florida

Last season, Florida made its fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, most recently as a No. 7 seed that lost in the second round to No. 15 seed Oral Roberts. The Gators had a top-50 offense and defense, according to kenpom.com.

Florida will be hoping for a healthy return for Keyontae Johnson and the Gators bring back Colin Castleton (12.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game) and Tyree Appleby (11.3 points per game), while also adding transfers Myreon Jones (15.3 points per game at Penn State), Phlandrous Fleming Jr. (20.1 points per game at Charleston Southern) and CJ Felder (9.7 points per game at Boston College).

David Kohl | USA TODAY Sports Images St. Bonaventure returns all five starters from the 2021 season, including leading scorer Kyle Lofton.

8. St. Bonaventure

Earlier in the offseason, NCAA.com identified St. Bonaventure as a team that could be poised for a historically great season. The Bonnies went 16-5 in the 2020-21 season and they earned a No. 9 seed after sweeping the A-10's regular-season and conference tournament titles.

Now, they return all five starters, each of whom averaged double figures last season, which could lead to a deep NCAA tournament run next spring.

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