The 2020-21 college basketball season will certainly be filled with question marks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a November 25th start date is beginning to look more and more likely. And, with that in mind, I will begin looking ahead to the 2020-21 college basketball season. In this article I will be taking a look at the top national title contenders in college basketball for next season.
I’ll be starting off with Baylor, the team that I believe should begin next season as the number one team. After going 26-4 last season, Baylor could be even better this season. The backcourt trio of Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Davion Mitchell is back. And, Naismith Defensive Player of the Year finalist Mark Vital is back at forward. No team can match Baylor’s combination of experience, talent and defensive prowess, making them easy championship contenders next season.
Gonzaga lost some key pieces from last year’s team that finished 31-2. However, I wouldn’t expect any drop off with the Bulldogs bringing in a high level freshman class, and a strong group of returners. Corey Kispert, Joel Ayayi, and Drew Timme highlight the group of returning players. Meanwhile, Jalen Suggs is the highest rated recruit in program history.
Villanova should take a big step forward this season. After finishing 24-7 last season, the Wildcats lose Saddiq Bey, but return everyone else. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Justin Moore should have big sophomore seasons. Senior point guard Collin Gillespie gives the Wildcats a steady floor general that averaged over 15 points a game last season.
After winning 11 of their final 12 games last season, expect Virginia’s momentum to carry into next season. Defensive stoppers Kihei Clark and Jay Huff are back after leading the Cavs to the number one defense a season ago. The offense should take a huge step forward with Marquette transfer Sam Hauser and freshman Jabri Abdur-Rahim providing some scoring ability.
The Blue Devils bring in yet another elite freshman class headlined by five stars Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, DJ Steward, and Mark Williams. Johnson, a 6’9” point forward, figures to be the centerpiece of the offense. The freshmen will be joined by sophomores Wendell Moore and Matthew Hurt. Both are breakout candidates.
Few teams can match Tennessee’s combination of returning players, freshmen, and transfers. Yves Pons, and John Fulkerson are back after averaging double figures last season. And, Josiah James is a breakout candidate. Freshman guards Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson are both likely one and dones, while transfers E.J Anosike and Victor Bailey Jr. should contribute immediately.
This is assuming that Olivier Sarr gets a waiver to play immediately, which seems likely. Although, if Sarr doesn’t get a waiver, I wouldn’t consider Kentucky to be title contenders anymore. If he does in fact get a waiver, Kentucky should have as much talent as anyone in college basketball. Five star wings BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke form the best freshman duo in the country. And, sophomore forward Keion Brooks is a breakout candidate.
I’m a lot lower on this Hawkeyes team than most. Still, national player of the year favorite Luka Garza gives the Hawkeyes the kind of star power that few can match. Add in Jordan Bohannon (who is back from injury), Joe Wieskamp plus CJ Fredrick, and the Hawkeyes have plenty of firepower. But, they must improve defensively where they ranked just 97th in efficiency last year.
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