As the 2019-20 college basketball season gets underway, we’re taking a closer look at how the local teams might do this year.
2020 College Basketball Picks
The Syracuse Orange are once again expected to be the best of the crop in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but they aren’t ready to contend for a National Championship. We’ll start with them as we do our tour of previews of the best local programs.
Odds To Win ACC: +2500 at FanDuel
Odds To Win National Championship: +7000 at FanDuel
Odds To Win Make Final Four: +1800 at FanDuel
The longest-tenured active coach in college hoops is Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, whose first season began in 1976. He has struggled in recent years to produce dominant regular seasons, the kinds of seasons that get very high seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
However, Boeheim has also shown that when Syracuse gets into the NCAA Tournament, it regularly wins multiple games and gets to the Sweet 16. Last year was an exception, though. Baylor beat Syracuse in the first round, which was a bit of a disappointment.
This year, expect another season in which Syracuse is a bubble team that doesn’t get a high NCAA seed but probably sneaks in with a low seed. Most projections have them finishing in the neighborhood of sixth-to-eight in the ACC. As you can see, they’re quite the longshot to compete in the conference – let along with the NCAA tournament.
The Orange lost a lot as Tyus Battle, who was their crunch-time scorer the past few years, is gone. However, they do have talent.
Elijah Hughes – a preseason ACC Player of the Year candidate – will be one of the leaders and he could get a big boost from freshman Quincy Guerrier.
They probably have the talent to be a Top 5 team in the conference and if the young guards can provide quality minutes, they could push for 20-22 wins and comfortably make the NCAA Tournament. More to come on these 2020 College Basketball picks.
Odds To Win National Championship: +21000 at FanDuel
The Bulls had a great team each of the last two seasons, winning NCAA Tournament games in both 2018 and 2019 with their core nucleus of C.J. Massinburg, Nick Perkins, and Jeremy Harris, who all averaged 14 points or more per game last season.
Now, those three players are gone, which puts this program in a big hole. On top of that, coach Nate Oats left Buffalo to become the new head coach at Alabama, so the Bulls have a lot of work to do this season in terms of rebuilding.
Jim Whitesell is the bench boss and he’s working with a very new roster. It will be hard to expect the Bulls to win yet another Mid-American Conference Tournament championship and return to the NCAA Tournament in 2020.
As you can tell by the 2020 College Basketball picks and odds, they are an extreme longshot to be competitive in March Madness and success might be measured by whether or not they even get back.
St. John’s Red Storm
Odds To Win Big East: +4000 at FanDuel
Odds To Win Make Final Four: +7500 at FanDuel
The Mike Anderson era begins in New York, a change for the first-year coach after nearly two decades in the Southern United States. Anderson worked his way up the coaching ladder at Alabama-Birmingham, then Missouri, then Arkansas. He coached for almost a decade at Arkansas and couldn’t make the Sweet 16.
He hopes that a change of scenery in a very different part of the country will enable him to prosper the way he did at Missouri, where he made the Elite Eight in 2009. Anderson takes over for predecessor Chris Mullin.
He is a better coach than Mullin was. The bad news for St. John’s: Star scorer Shamorie Ponds is in the NBA. Replacing him will be hard. This is probably going to be an NIT team in 2020.
Odds To Win AAC: +3500 at FanDuel
Odds To Win National Championship: +25000 at FanDuel
Odds To Win Make Final Four: +6000 at FanDuel
The greatest coach in Temple history was John Chaney, who coached for 24 seasons at the Philadelphia-based school. He coached a lot of great players. One of them was Aaron McKie, who enjoyed a long and productive career in Philadelphia as a member of the 76ers.
He played on Philly’s 2001 NBA Finals team, which lost to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant axis.
McKie replaces Pennsylvania basketball legend Fran Dunphy, who coached Pennsylvania and then Temple over the course of multiple decades.
McKie should be able to recruit well. He has a team that will probably contend for the NCAA Tournament and be right on the bubble until Selection Sunday. However, expectations are low beyond that.
St. Joseph’s Hawks
The Phil Martelli era at Saint Joseph’s lasted over two full decades but it’s now come to a close. He almost made the Final Four in 2004 but lost to Oklahoma State in the Elite Eight.
After a long tenure by one coach, St. Joseph’s turns the page and gives the keys to Billy Lange, the first-year coach who will try to revive the Hawks this year. Martelli was a quality coach, but even he struggled late in his tenure.
Expectations are very low for Lange in his first season, so much so that the Hawks don’t even have odds up on the board to win the National Championship or make the Final Four.
Most people expect them to completely miss out on the NCAA Tournament this season.