November is one of the best sporting months of the year, especially for NJ online sports bettors. The NFL and college football are in the second halves of their seasons, the NBA and NHL are just getting going, and now college basketball is back, so you need to start prepping for March Madness 2020.
About seven months after the Virginia Cavaliers cut down the nets at the end of the 2019 NCAA Tournament, the 2019-20 season is tipping off. Of course, many of the regular blue-bloods are at the top of the board in terms of the odds to win the 2020 NCAA Championship.
We’ve taken a look at the board, and we’ve got the three best bets to win among the favorites as well as two longshots with a chance to win it all:
March Madness 2020 Picks – The Favorites
The Wildcats haven’t been to the Final Four since 2015, which – for them – is a really long time. The Wildcats have come close multiple times, though, so it’s not as if anyone is nervous heading into the season. They reached the Elite Eight in 2017 and 2019.
Kentucky Wildcats made the Sweet 16 in 2018 and were the highest-seeded team in their regional quartet. They have continuously knocked on the door but have been denied in their recent attempts to return to the Final Four.
One would have to think that John Calipari is going to find a way to bust this slump. He is too good a coach, and he recruits at such a high level – replenishing his roster for a reloading process year after year – that Kentucky should be considered a top-tier favorite to win it all.
The good news is that Kentucky – for just the second time in the last 11 seasons – returns their point guard. Remember, Kentucky is usually one-and-done, and that hurts the continuity.
Ashton Hagans is back, and he’s expected to be one of the top point guards in the country. Meanwhile, freshman guard and five-star recruit Tyrese Maxey is the school’s next superstar. That might be enough to finally get Kentucky over the top.
The Jayhawks were thinned out last season by lots of injuries, plus hardships related to athletes being ruled ineligible by the NCAA. The main injury casualty was big man Udoka Azubuike.
If Kansas had been able to put him on the floor every night, the Jayhawks’ streak of consecutive Big 12 championships probably would not have come to an end.
The big eligibility deprivation Kansas suffered was the NCAA’s strong-arming of Silvio De Sousa, an active and athletic wing who played a part in helping Kansas make the 2018 Final Four. De Sousa was unable to help his team when Azubuike and others got hurt last season.
Now that he and Azubuike are together and on the floor, Kansas will be far better in the frontcourt and on the perimeter at both ends of the floor.
On top of that, remember that guard Devon Dotson pulled out from the NBA Draft and returned, and the team landed Iowa State transfer Isaiah Moss, who will boost the team’s shooting.
This team was shorthanded last season; now, they have all the talent they need to be a prime national title threat.
Duke Blue Devils
The Duke teams which have won national championships haven’t necessarily been the most talented or have featured the best players. The 2015 team won the title with a weak defensive center, Jahlil Okafor, and a talented but small point guard, Tyus Jones, who has not made a big imprint in the NBA.
Justise Winslow looks like the only especially promising long-term NBA prospect from that team. The 2010 Duke championship team was even less imposing. Brian Zoubek was the center, John Scheyer, the point guard.
On the other hand, the most talented Duke teams don’t necessarily go deep in March, as we saw last season. A team laced with Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish, and R.J. Barrett did not make the Final Four.
Sure, this year’s team isn’t viewed as talent-rich as last year’s unit, but Mike Krzyzewski might not need that. An integrated, cohesive roster – something that it looks like they might have – could be what leads them to a stronger run this time around.
March Madness 2020 Picks – The Longshots
The Zags know they will be without French big man Killian Tillie for a few more weeks, but if he can get healthy and become very effective, the Zags can have one of the better frontcourts in college basketball.
They could have the strength there to complement their guard play and develop the all-around game that could lead this team to the Final Four. Gonzaga came one win short of the Final Four last season. A healthy Tillie can provide a team capable of taking the next step.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Are the Red Raiders now a stalwart in the Big 12? Are they still the best team in the Big 12? One year after making a run to the Elite Eight, they made a run to the national championship game, falling just short to Virginia. For the second year in a row, they have a lot to replace, but it looks like they’re now a program under Chris Beard, who can handle rebuilding on the fly.
The Red Raiders had a star player, Jarrett Culver, on last season’s national runner-up team, but Culver is now gone (lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft). The supporting cast carried Texas Tech to the cusp of the national title. Some of those players are gone too.
However, this team is built around its signature defense, which means they’ll be able to rebuild the offense slowly – just as they did last year – while the defense carries them early. Given their recent pedigree, they’re worth a look at 30/1.
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