Gonzalez: Parity In College Hoops Opens The Door For March Madness Longshots In 2019-20

Written By Bobby Gonzalez on November 7, 2019

Two nights ago at Madison Square Garden, four traditional powerhouse blue bloods opened the 2019-2020 NCAA men’s college basketball season, and we saw more of a familiar trend. Where I am eventually going in this column is away from those favorites as we look ahead to March Madness.

We’ve been seeing this for the last seven or eight years: There are very few great dominant veteran-laden teams left anymore in college hoops. There is incredible parity and balance where almost anyone can win and go on a run and get to a Final Four.

Most of the tops teams are still dominated by incoming freshmen, and the great veteran players sprinkled in throughout the nation are few far and between. On opening night, Duke relied on sophomore point guard Tre Jones and three freshmen — Vernon Carey Jr., versatile forward Mathew Hurt and swingman Cassius Stanley — who have come in to help replace Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish.

At times they struggled, but they pulled out a two-point win vs. Kansas, 66-64. Then, in the second game, Kentucky knocked off preseason No. 1 Michigan State behind star a freshman who stole the show, Tyrese Maxey, with 23 points and a huge timely 3-pointer to help win 69-62.

Last year, Virginia defeated Texas Tech in the championship game to win the title with a group comprised mostly of upperclassmen.

Villanova won titles in 2016 and 2017 with much the same philosophy.

We still have a long way to go in the season, but here are five teams that are somewhat under the radar who I believe have a great shot to go on a Final Four run and possibly win the national championship.

2019-20 NCAA potential title candidates

1. Florida Gators

Led by Canadian point guard Andrew Nembhard and potential NBA first-rounder, Virginia Tech transfer Kerry Blackshear, I love Florida as a possible sleeper pick to win it all come March. The Gators are +2000 (20-to-1) at DraftKings Sportsbook and +1600 at FanDuel Sportsbook.

2. Louisville Cardinals

Led by Jordan Nwora, the Cardinals are picked by most experts behind Duke and UNC and maybe even Virginia in the ACC, but can easily go on to be the best and deepest team in the ACC and are built for a postseason run. They are on the board at +1400 at DraftKings and +1600 at FanDuel.

3. Maryland Terrapins

Led by crafty point guard Anthony Cowan and potential NBA forward Jalen Smith, this has the chance to be the best Maryland team since the national championship team that Gary Williams coached in 2002. Their odds to win the national title are +2000 at DraftKings and FanDuel.

4. Washington Huskies

Led by potential lottery pick freshman big man Isaiah Stewart, who coach Mike Hopkins beat out his alma mater, Syracuse, in plucking him out of upstate New York, has a very talented and athletic young team who right now are ranked no higher than 21st but who I believe can evolve and mature for a possible Final Four run. Their championship odds are +5000 at DK and the same at FanDuel.

5. Memphis Tigers

Led by the favorite for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, multi-talented big man James Wiseman, former NBA legend Penny Hardaway has assembled a deeply talented although somewhat young and inexperienced squad that can match up and beat any team in the country. Look out if they can evolve and put it together. They could be dangerous come March, and they are on the board at +1600 at DraftKings and +1400 at FanDuel.

2019-20 college basketball betting favorites

NCAA Winner

Game
(Eastern Time)
(EST)
Gonzaga
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+800
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+900
Baylor
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+800
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+1600
Virginia
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+900
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+900
Creighton
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+1100
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+2000
Kentucky
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+1200
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+1100
Duke
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+1400
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+1300
Villanova
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+1400
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+2500
Florida State
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+1500
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+2000
Iowa
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+1500
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+5000
Wisconsin
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+1600
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+2500
San Diego State
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+1600
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+2500
Kansas
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+1700
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+1000
West Virginia
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+1900
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+3000
Oregon
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+2000
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+2800
Ohio State
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+2300
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+2800
Michigan State
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+2500
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+1000
Houston
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+3000
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+3500
Louisville
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+3000
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+2200
Texas Tech
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+3000
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+2200
Michigan
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+3500
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+2800
Bobby Gonzalez Avatar
Written by
Bobby Gonzalez

Bobby Gonzalez is the former head coach of the Seton Hall and Manhattan University men's basketball teams. He has also served as a consultant for the New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets of the NBA. Most recently, Gonzalez was an associate head coach for the Jilin Northeast Tigers in China. His work as a media personality has been featured on ESPN and NBC Sports.

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