Leagues

Looking Ahead: Predictions for the 2024 Sports Year

Read our early picks on everything from January through June, including football, basketball, hockey, and more.

January 4, 2024

With the 2024 calendar year underway, it’s a good time to take a look into the future. Below, you’ll find early —sometimes very early — predictions for league, tournament, and individual award winners, as well as how some key 2024 storylines from around the world of sports could unfold. Odds from Tipico Sportsbook are provided where currently available. The months of January through June will be covered here, with the last six months of 2024 to follow in a second installment — click here to read.

Feel free to gaze into our crystal ball — and see if you agree with these predictions.

College Football Playoff (Jan. 8)

Washington Huskies (+155) — The Huskies will face the Michigan Wolverines in the College Football Playoff championship game Monday. Both teams are 14-0, and while Washington has had more close calls, the Huskies are battle-tested with eight one-possession wins this season and will have the best player on the field in Heisman Trophy finalist Michael Penix Jr.

Australian Open (tennis) (Women’s Final Jan. 27; Men’s Final Jan. 28)

Men’s winner: Novak Djokovic (+102) — Ten of Djokovic’s 24 Grand Slam titles have come down under, as he’s the undisputed GOAT when it comes to the Australian Open. His hot finish to 2023 suggests the 36-year-old Serb isn’t slowing down just yet, so he should hold off a slew of younger challengers.

Women’s winner: Elena Rybakina (+720) — The women’s field is wide open, but Rybakina has a strong case given her terrific serve and ability to follow it up with power off the ground. She came a set from winning the 2023 Australian Open, and after battling a back injury late in 2023, the 2022 Wimbledon champion should come back strong to begin 2024.

NFL MVP (announced Feb. 8) 

Lamar Jackson (-20000) — This award was Brock Purdy’s to lose heading into Week 16, but the San Francisco quarterback did indeed seem to lose it by throwing four interceptions and losing head-to-head to Jackson’s Ravens. Jackson then cemented his case by throwing five touchdowns in a Week 17 rout of the Dolphins, helping the Ravens improve to a league-best 13-3. In a season in which no player has really stood out statistically to win MVP, the best player on the best team looks poised to win the award for the second time, even though Jackson’s 29 combined passing and rushing TDs pale in comparison to his 43 combined TDs from his 2019 MVP season.

Super Bowl (Feb. 11) 

San Francisco 49ers (+195) — After losing in the NFC Championship Game in back-to-back years, the 49ers could finally get over the hump this year. San Francisco’s locked into the top seed in the NFC at 12-4, so they’ll have home field advantage. The Cowboys are 3-5 on the road, the Eagles are 1-4 in their last five, and the Lions haven’t won a playoff game in 32 years, so the NFC looks ripe for the taking. The only AFC team with a better record than San Francisco is Baltimore, but Lamar Jackson is just 1-3 in the postseason in his career.

NCAA Tournament (Men’s Final Four April 5-8; Women’s Final Four April 5-7) 

Men’s winner: Kentucky Wildcats — Kentucky has made the Elite Eight or better six times since coach John Calipari took over in 2009, including a title in 2012. This year’s squad is ranked in the top 10 early on and has seniors Antonio Reeves and Tre Mitchell among its leading scorers, adding some key experience to Calipari’s most recent strong recruiting class of freshmen.

Women’s winner: Iowa Hawkeyes — Caitlin Clark’s title bid fell one game short last year, but perhaps the best player in women’s college basketball history will finally break through for a championship in 2024. Iowa should certainly be in contention come March Madness, as the Hawkeyes are currently ranked in the top five.

The Masters (April 8-14)

Scottie Scheffler (+900) — Scheffler holds the No. 1 ranking heading into 2024, and he won the Masters in 2022. If he adds a second green jacket in 2024, Scheffler would become the 18th golfer to win the Masters multiple times.

Hart Trophy (NHL MVP)

Nathan MacKinnon (+370) — A slow start by Connor McDavid and the Oilers has opened the door for the rest of the NHL in the MVP race, and MacKinnon’s most likely to take advantage due to his mix of personal success and team success. Only Nikita Kucherov has more points, but the Lightning are on the playoff bubble while MacKinnon’s Avalanche team is among the best in the NHL. After being robbed of MVP in 2018 when he had a far superior case to Taylor Hall, MacKinnon should get a makeup call in 2024.

Stanley Cup 

New York Rangers (+850) — The Rangers sit atop the league standings, as new coach Peter Laviolette is getting the most out of a talented roster that includes the world’s best goalie in Igor Shesterkin, a perennial Norris Trophy contender in Adam Fox, and an elite point producer up front in Artemi Panarin. After a trip to the Eastern Conference Final in 2022 and a first-round choke job in 2023, a change from Gerard Gallant’s “system” to Laviolette’s structured gameplans could put the Rangers over the top.

NBA MVP 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+380) — The Thunder are currently second in the Western Conference, and if Oklahoma City stays near the top of the standings or climbs into first, Gilgeous-Alexander should get some serious MVP consideration. He could become the first player in NBA history to average at least 30 PPG on 55 percent shooting with 2.5 steals per game, as he’s currently above two of those benchmarks, along with a 54.6 shooting percentage. It helps that SGA’s a fresh face in the MVP race, while the likes of Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic could suffer from some voter fatigue.

NBA Champion

Milwaukee Bucks (+410) — Milwaukee was already arguably the best postseason team in the NBA when healthy before adding Damian Lillard this offseason. The Bucks won it all in 2021, but with Lillard desperate for a ring, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the rest of this year’s team will be as motivated as ever come the postseason, and the Bucks sit comfortably near the top of the regular season standings.

PGA Championship (May 16-19)

Brooks Koepka (+1500) — Koepka has already won back-to-back PGA Championships once, doing so in 2018 and 2019. The 33-year-old American will have the opportunity to accomplish that feat again in 2024 after winning this tournament in 2023.

Premier League (Last Matchday: May 24) 

Liverpool FC (+225) — Liverpool sits atop the Premier League table, though three-time defending champion Manchester City isn’t far behind. Prior to Man City’s three-peat, Liverpool won in 2020 to end a 30-year title drought. With Egyptian star Mohamed Salah leading the way, Liverpool is on track for another Premier League title.

French Open (tennis) (Women’s Final: June 8; Men’s Final: June 9) 

Men’s winner: Carlos Alcaraz (+140) — Alcaraz cramped up in his highly anticipated 2023 French Open clash with Novak Djokovic, but that was due at least as much to mental stress as physical fatigue. Having subsequently beaten Djokovic at Wimbledon, Alcaraz should be better prepared for the moment in 2024. It would be nice to see Rafael Nadal make a deep run in what’s likely to be his last French Open, but after coming back from major hip surgery, the King of Clay may not have what it takes to keep up with a Spanish compatriot that’s 17 years his junior in best-of-five set play.

Women’s winner: Iga Swiatek (+100) — Like her idol Nadal, Swiatek does her best work on clay. Coco Gauff could be Swiatek’s biggest challenger on the Pole’s preferred surface, but until someone successfully unseats the back-to-back French Open champion, this tournament is Swiatek’s to lose. Swiatek dropped only one set en route to the title in 2023.

US Open (golf) (June 13-16)

Predicted winner: Will Zalatoris (+3500) — The US Open seems to produce more “random” winners relative to the other golf majors, and longshot Zalatoris could be in line for a bounce-back season now that he’s recovered from April back surgery. Prior to getting hurt, Zalatoris had been rapidly ascending, with second-place finishes at the Masters in 2021, PGA Championship in 2022 and US Open in 2022.

Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha Yodashkin has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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