Gonzaga, Virginia open as favorites to win 2021 NCAA Tournament


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The 2020-2021 college basketball season is the next college basketball season in which there is a chance that the NCAA Tournament will be played. Yet, nothing can be said for sure, with society being thrown into chaos and various cities going into lockdown or shelter-in-place situations due to the coronavirus. No one can reasonably predict when – or if – the college basketball season will happen as scheduled in November of 2020. There are too many variables to sort through in a situation which is constantly changing. However, if a season does happen in the next college sports cycle, this is what the odds currently look like for a number of prominent schools:

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Odds To Win 2020 NCAA Tournament: +900

The Bulldogs were a No. 1 seed this past season despite not having their most talented roster. Next season, the Zags are expected to have a better lineup because their younger players will have had more experience and should be even more cohesive as a group. Everything you saw and everything you liked about this past season’s Gonzaga team should be better in 2021. The Bulldogs will be in great position to make a run at the national championship. Mark Few struggled to get Gonzaga to the elite ranks of college basketball for many years, but beginning in 2015, when Gonzaga was a No. 2 seed which reached the Elite Eight, Few has changed all that. Gonzaga is now regularly a top seed in the NCAA Tournament, and that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.

Virginia Hoosiers

Odds To Win 2020 NCAA Tournament: +900

The Virginia Cavaliers lost multiple NBA players this past season, including lottery pick DeAndre Hunter. They also lost elite wing shooter Kyle Guy and top-tier point guard Ty Jerome. The 2019 national champions were not going to defend their title in 2020. This was always going to be the case. Kihei Clark and Mamadi Diakite were going to lend some stability to the lineup, but the shooting and overall talent on the perimeter were never going to be sufficient. Virginia did reasonably well with what it had in 2020. The Cavaliers finished second in the Atlantic Coast Conference and were probably going to get something close to a No. 5 or 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. In the coming season – if it happens – Virginia is bringing in a very impressive collection of recruits and transfers. Diakite will be gone, but Clark will be back, and the roster should be a lot better. Virginia will have a great chance to win the ACC, and if the Cavaliers are able to achieve that, they will be no worse than a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a great chance to make the Final Four and win the national championship.

Kansas Jayhawks

Odds To Win 2020 NCAA Tournament: +1000

The Jayhawks entered the 2020 NCAA Tournament – had it been played – as the majority pick to win it all. KU would have been favored more than any other prominent contender, including Baylor and San Diego State and Dayton. Kansas will have a lot of its top players coming back next season, and Bill Self shows every sign of being able to maintain control of his program. As long as the NCAA doesn’t step in and impose any severe sanctions, Kansas should be ready to thrive once again and make a run at the national title, something it wasn’t able to do this year due to the coronavirus.

Kentucky Wildcats

Odds To Win 2020 NCAA Tournament: +1200

The Wildcats grew up as a team in February of this past season. They did, however, lose games to Evansville and South Carolina which came out of nowhere. The Wildcats, if they can avoid really bad losses next season, will be able to get a very high (top-two) seed in the NCAA Tournament and get the favorable bracket they need to return to the Final Four for the first time since 2015. John Calipari has been good at getting his teams to improve in February. Next season, he might have a more mature group which can mature and evolve in late December or very early January. Kentucky might be on schedule instead of playing from behind for most of the season. This could end well for the Wildcats.

Creighton: Bluejays

Odds To Win 2020 NCAA Tournament: +1400

The Bluejays shared the 2020 Big East regular season title and were in contention for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, had it ever happened. Creighton is bringing back most of its talent from last season, making the Bluejays instant contenders for the Big East title in 2021. Given that Seton Hall – the school with whom Creighton shared the 2020 Big East championship – is losing superstar wing Myles Powell, it can very reasonably be argued that Creighton should be the Big East favorite next season. Villanova will probably be the main challenger to the Bluejays in 2021.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Odds To Win 2020 NCAA Tournament: +2000

The Tar Heels had a bad team, but also an unlucky team, this past season. North Carolina lost close to 10 games in which it had a lead at some point in the second half this past season. The Tar Heels lost several games in which they had a lead in the final minute of regulation. This all occurred with the Tar Heels having a number of key injuries. They lacked depth, they lacked stability, and for several games, they lacked star guard Cole Anthony, who is likely to go to the NBA Draft. If North Carolina can merely avoid a bad run of injuries in 2021, that alone would enable the Tar Heels to be a highly-seeded NCAA Tournament team (top-four if not higher). If the Tar Heels mesh on the floor, they could be extremely good.

Wisconsin Badgers

Odds To Win 2020 NCAA Tournament: +2000

The Badgers won the Big Ten regular season championship this past season. They will return a number of players and will bring in a strong recruiting class. Greg Gard’s team didn’t play well this past season until February. A lot like Kentucky, Wisconsin has a chance to be great if it can develop in late December or early January. UW could get a top-two seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Odds To Win 2020 NCAA Tournament: +2800

The Buckeyes got huge news Saturday night. Seth Towns transferred from Harvard to Ohio State. Towns had been considering Duke as a transfer destination, but he chose the Buckeyes. This is going to give Ohio State a lot more scoring punch, depth, balance, and versatility. Getting Ohio State at this price is a huge value. The Buckeyes are going to rise in oddsmakers’ lists very rapidly.

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