There was no guarantee that the 2020 college basketball season would be played as the continued fallout of the COVID-19 global pandemic forced a delayed start to the season. After months of deliberation and difficult decisions, the NCAA Division I Council approved moving the start date to Wednesday, Nov. 25 and capped the schedule at 27 regular season games.
The shortened season will require teams to start as strong as they finish and make it difficult for greater-than-normal production, but that doesn’t mean records can’t be beat in a short year.
Here are three records that have a legitimate shot to be broken in 2020/21:
Lowest Field Goal Percentage Allowed – Currently: Stanford, 2001
Stanford University received a No. 1 seed in the 2000/01 NCAA Basketball Tournament after finishing atop the Pac 12 with a record of 31-3. Led by sophomore guard Casey Jacobsen and senior center Jason Collins, the Cardinal suffocated opponents with a lockdown pain presence and suffocating on-ball pressure. The defensive performance was unlike we’ve ever seen and Stanford held its opponents to a record low 35.2 percent shooting.
If there was ever a time for a record to be broken, it would be this one, this season. Not only are there less games, leaving less opportunity for off-nights or sluggish starts, but four teams came within a stone’s throw of the record last season.
Virginia won a national championship in 2018/19 and followed it up with a third consecutive season with the nation’s top total defense. The Cavaliers held opponents to 37.5 percent from the field and have a track record of holding opponents below 40-percent shooting for the season, also doing so during the national title run and in 2015.
The ‘Hoos lose Mamadi Diakite and Braxton Key to graduation and 40 percent of the team’s rebounding with them, but the rest of the roster returns and adds to it an incredibly talented transfer forward in Sam Hauser and one of the best freshman classes in school history.
Head coach Tony Bennett’s team is reloaded and ready to make another run at a ring and are currently given +1400 odds to win the 2020/21 Men’s Basketball Tournament on Bovada. In the second year of the extended three-point line, opponents will again have real problems scoring against the Cavaliers, opening the door for a record-breaking year.
While it might be Virginia that is best set up to break the record, it was Memphis that led the nation in defensive field-goal percentage allowed last season. The Tigers held opponents to 36.1 percent shooting, less than a point percentage behind Stanford’s record. Penny Hardaway’s team is +7500 to win it all on BetOnline, but will be without Precious Achiuwa, who will head to the NBA after leading the team in scoring, rebounding and shots blocked.
Kansas and Rutgers, one of the more delightful surprises of 2019/20, also return much of its core personnel for this season and held their opponents to 37.7 and 38.3 percent scoring respectively last season.
Most Double-Doubles in a Season – Currently: David Robinson, 31
10-time NBA All Star and two-time NBA Hall of Fame inductee David Robinson is considered one of the best centers to ever play professional basketball. While most people know ‘The Admiral’ for his time with the San Antonio Spurs, his collegiate career at Navy may be even more impressive.
The Midshipmen reached the Elite Eight in 1985/86 and followed it up with back-to-back tournament appearances the following year. Robinson averaged a double-double as a sophomore, junior and senior with more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, and recorded a record-setting 31 single-season double-doubles in 1986/87. That record has yet to be broken in over thirty years, which speaks to how dominant Robinson was.
If the record is to be broken, Iowa’s Luka Garza may be the one to do it during the 2020/21 season. The 6-foot-11 senior was a consensus first-team All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year as a junior and elected to return to Iowa City for one last run. He averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game last season, falling just short of the double-double average, and will be many experts’ preseason frontrunner for national player of the year.
Garza had 15 double-doubles in 31 games last season, which doesn’t appear close to Robinson’s record on the surface. However, the Hawkeye big man was one rebound short of a double-double on three occasions, fell two rebounds short seven times, and was one point and two rebounds away once. Had the cards fallen his way, Garza could have very easily finished with 26 double-doubles in 2019/20.
With his final season capped at 27 games, Iowa will need to make deep runs in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments just to play 31 games. If that were to be the case, Garza couldn’t afford a single off night to even have a chance at the single-season double-doubles record. However, Garza returns as the nation’s most dominant big and if he can take his numbers just one step further, he could finish within reach of Robinson’s record.
The Hawkeyes finished 20-11 before the season was cut short last season and will be amongst the contenders in the Big 10 this season. Fran McCaffery’s team is currently listed with the second-lowest odds at +750 to win the 2021 Men’s Basketball Tournament on Bovada.
(Bonus: 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds in a career)
Garza enters this season with 1,559 points and 660 rebounds in his career. If he scores 441 points and adds 340 rebounds, he will become the 114th player to record 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in college. He scored 740 points and snagged 305 rebounds as a junior, so if he can match his scoring from last season and increase his rebounding, he has a shot.
Most Consecutive 30-win Seasons – Currently: Kansas (2010-13), Villanova (2015-18), Gonzaga (2017-present)
If 2020/21 was to be a normal season, the Zags would be set up to take sole possession of the record for most consecutive 30-win seasons. However, with the 27-game limit, the West Coast Conference’s top dogs will need to dominate the regular season and make a couple of postseason runs. Mark Few’s squad finished 2020 with the most wins and tied for the fewest losses in the nation, before it was cut short due to COVID-19.
With the Bulldogs’ WCC tournament win over San Francisco, who they have defeated 32 consecutive times at home, the program marked its 30th win of the season. With the win, Gonzaga joined Kansas and Villanova as the only Division I men’s basketball programs to record four consecutive seasons with 30 or more wins.
The Zags hold the only active record in the NCAA, and if they can do it again in 2020/21, they will hold sole possession of the consecutive 30-win season record. After running the numbers and doing the math, the road won’t be easy. With only 27 regular season games, assuming Gonzaga wins the conference regular season championship again, it will only have the opportunity to play two conference tournament games.
Even if the Bulldogs from Spokane, Wash. goes undefeated to that point, they will only have 29 games under their belt, needing an NCAA Tournament First Round win to reach the record. If they have two or three losses come March Madness, the team may need an Elite Eight or Final Four run to have a shot at breaking through to five consecutive years.
Gonzaga is currently listed at +1100 to win the 2021 Men’s Basketball Tournament on Bovada and has shown its ability to compete deep into the bracket, having reached the Sweet 16 in 2016 and 2018, the Elite Eight in 2015 and 2019 and the national championship game in 2017.