Back in February and March, we watched teams win their conferences and accept bids into the greatest tournament of all time. Then the Coronavirus hit and the entire sports world was shut down, including March Madness. That was a shock to everyone’s system.
With protocols in place, there’s a much higher percentage we get March Madness in 2021. Here’s a very early prediction on teams who will potentially make the final four.
You can never rule out Gonzaga. Gonzaga has their entire core returning and have added a premier freshman in Jalen Suggs. But most important, Gonzaga’s schedule is mayhem. Nothing is set in stone and the schedule hasn’t yet been released.
Currently, reports are that Gonzaga will take on Michigan State in Orlando in November, Tennessee in Orlando in early December, Baylor in Indianapolis right after their bout against Tennessee, and then they’ll take on Big Ten’s best team, Iowa in South Dakota. All four of those teams are highly regarded as premier teams in the league and most certainly top 25 teams.
A slate like this before conference play should help keep this veteran group prepare moving forward and into the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga will lose Filip Petrusev as he’s going to play overseas. They’ll also lose Killian Tillie, who was the lone senior on the squad last season.
Currently, Gonzaga is +150 to make the Final Four, but if there was ever a favorite to do it, they appear to be the likely candidates.
San Diego State
In the tournament, defense matters. San Diego State were ranked the third best defensive team in the nation. While the Aztecs will lose Malachi Flynn to the draft, they should still be a threat in the Mountain West and to the NCAA as a whole.
Yes, SDSU is also losing Yanni Wetzell and KJ Feagin, who were two more starters from last season. Therefore, SDSU will return veteran grad transfers to take over their place. Veteran assets are what you look for in teams trying to make it deep into a tournament.
Flynn averaged 17.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game for San Diego State. There will be big shoes to fill for San Diego, but just like last season, this team will be focused and ready to go under Brian Dutcher.
San Diego State were 30-2 on the regular season. The winning culture has been built. The Aztecs will face Saint Mary’s, Missouri, Central Florida, and Arizona State. Their game against BYU might be postponed to next season or canceled. Still, SDSU has a solid group of games before their conference slate.
The transfers include Terrell Gomez who shot 52.9 percent from three last season in Big West games and Maryland transfer Joshua Tomaic who has a bit of pop from long range. He won’t be premier in the post but he still brings a dynamic to this team.
After a 30-2 season, SDSU will be just fine. Another big season is in store for the Aztecs. These College Basketball oddsmakers are missing the potential that SDSU has.
My Pick: SDSU +525 at BetOnline
Look… I wanted to add Duke, North Carolina, Virginia. But then I’d get tweets telling me that I only took favorites and that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Louisville can do damage this year in the ACC. But it’s going to be a tough division all together. That’s what will help make these guys better.
The Cardinals went 15-5 in conference play last season and 24-7 throughout the year. This team is losing veteran leader and top player Jordan Nwora to the draft, but this team is still feared. The Cardinals have been taught to play incredible defense and that won’t change. The offense was very inconsistent last season but when you have a solid defense, even with a bad day on offense, you have the chance to win.
Currently, in practice, Louisville has this thing where the player that performs the best in practice gets to wear a “gold jersey.” This doesn’t seem like much, but the chemistry seems to be forming well with Louisville.
They have added a graduate transfer in Carlik Jones to take over Nwora’s position. Carlik Jones will be a terrific defender for Louisville, as he averaged nearly 1.5 steals per game with Radford.
Then they also added a graduate transfer from San Francisco, Charles Minlend. He’s an aggressive player with great finishing around the rim. He loves contact and finishes strong. That’s what you need the ACC. There are some big guys down low, and you need players that can work around the perimeter, but who also aren’t afraid of contact inside.
My Pick: Louisville +650 at BetOnline