Gonzalez: Why 20 Different Teams Can Win The NCAA Tournament This Year

Posted By Bobby Gonzalez on March 8, 2020 - Last Updated on March 9, 2020

For maybe the first time ever in college basketball history, there might be two dozen different teams who can actually win the men’s NCAA Tournament.

As a former Division I college coach for over 18 years, here’s what I see when I look at college basketball this season:

  • No dominant teams
  • Less talent across the board
  • No transcendent player like in years past (e.g. Zion Williamson)
  • A cookie-cutter style of play and coaching that has made college basketball almost unrecognizable

Most gurus or hoops TV pundits probably don’t want to admit this or be so blunt about it. I get it — they are paid to hype the product and protect the sport. So they will just call it parity.

The line that I keep thinking of that my old dear friend Mr. Howard Garfinkel from the famed Five Star Clinic used to say: “The whole country has become one big Mid-Major.” At no time do I remember it being more appropriate than now. You can point to many factors:

  • Years and years of the one-and-done rule taking its toll
  • NCAA rules which will keep the potential number one pick in the NBA draft, James Wisemen, out of the tourney
  • Great young players like LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton taking their talents overseas to prep for the NBA

You can also point to legendary coaches like Roy Williams at UNC and Jim Boeheim at Syracuse — two of only a handful of Hall of Fame coaches left in the college game — whose teams are having poor seasons and likely won’t be coaching in this year’s tournament.

Having said all that, the good news is — as Jay Bilas once said — March Madness is basically idiot-proof. No matter what the field looks like, you almost can’t mess it up. There promises to still be three weeks of drama, excitement, fun, and upsets, and many compelling stories along the way.

And this year it is wide open. Here’s my list of the 20 teams that would not surprise or shock me if they won it all:

  • Kansas: My pick to win it all is the most complete team of the bunch. But you have to pay a steep price to bet them.
  • Gonzaga: Will be a number one seed and might be the best deepest, most versatile Gonzaga team ever. Keep an eye on potential lottery pick Killian Hayes.
  • Baylor: Great guards. Very dangerous team and only an eyelash behind Kansas.
  • Duke: You can never count out the Blue Devils and Coach K.
  • Dayton: Veteran, tough-minded team with a legit star in Obi Toppin.
  • Louisville: Chris Mack has a physical, athletic team led by Jordan Nwora.
  • Maryland: Best Terrapins team to come along in years.
  • Kentucky: One of the hottest teams in the country at the end of the season. Coach Cal has done an award-winning job with this team. I love the guard duo of Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans.
  • Florida State: Another Leonard Hamilton sleeper squad. Great defensive team.
  • Auburn: A dangerous, hard-playing Bruce Pearl team that I believe will excel in the tournament again because of playing style.
  • San Diego State: Will be a number one seed. Won 26 in a row before losing late last month. This team is the real deal led by Malachi Flynn.
  • Villanova: Can’t bet against a Jay Wright team that already has two national championship rings and tremendous guard play with future pro Saddiq Bey and great freshman big man Jeremiah Robinson Earl.
  • Oregon: I’m higher on the Ducks than most because I love Dana Altman’s playing style and absolutely love point guard Payton Prichard.
  • Michigan State: There might not be a better tournament coach in the country than Tom Izzo. Point guard Cassius Winston is another in a long line of great Spartan backcourt leaders.
  • Creighton: Coach Greg McDermott has done a masterful job with this up-tempo team. Keep an eye on guard Tyshon Alexander.
  • Seton Hall: Senior guard Myles Powell gives them a chance in any game.
  • Arizona: I know they have been up and down but I love their personnel again. It’s a young team but I still believe in Sean Miller as a coach and think they can go on a surprise run.
  • Wisconsin: Coach Greg Gard has a tough style of play. The Badgers are playing well at the right time.
  • Iowa: The Hawkeyes are led by the best big man in the nation, Luke Garza.
  • Texas Tech: After watching what Chris Beard did last year you have to give the Red Raiders a puncher’s chance, although they are a little young.

NCAA Tournament odds (January 16, 2021)

NCAA Winner

Game
(Eastern Time)
(EST)
Gonzaga
Bet now
+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
Bet now
+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
Bet now
+5000
Wisconsin
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+1600
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+2500
San Diego State
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+1600
Bet now
+2500
Kansas
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+1700
Bet now
+1000
West Virginia
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+1900
Bet now
+3000
Oregon
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+2000
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+2800
Ohio State
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+2300
Bet now
+2800
Michigan State
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+2500
Bet now
+1000
Houston
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+3000
Bet now
+3500
Louisville
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+3000
Bet now
+2200
Texas Tech
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+3000
Bet now
+2200
Michigan
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+3500
Bet now
+2800
Bobby Gonzalez Avatar
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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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