With less than two months until the 2020-21 college basketball season begins, speculation from fans and analysts have risen on what the NCAA March Madness field may look like. The season begins November 25 and NCAA.com basketball expert Andy Katz has released his Final Four contenders for the year.
Of course, prognostications now about the season are pure speculation, since we’re still six months away from March; however, they’re fun for debate purposes nonetheless. Here are some surprises found in Andy Katz’s 2020-21 March Madness predictions.
Syracuse is nowhere to be seen in Andy Katz’s Power 36 rankings nor in his preseason March Madness predictions. To many, this is a reasonable decision. They’ve lost bench players Howard Washington, Brycen Goodine and Jalen Carey, who’ve all transferred out. In addition, Elijah Hughes’ departure is a hit; he was the Orange’s best and most versatile scorer(19.0 ppg). This season, Buddy Boeheim and Joseph Girard III will pick up some of that offensive slack. Syracuse also received a vital pickup: big-time shooter Alan Griffin, who has received a waiver to play after transferring from Illinois. He will be making plays consistently all-around. Overall, The Orange seems to have a solid upside for the season: they return four starters from last year and will be a deadly team from the three-point arc. According to ESPN’s Bracketology, Joe Lunardi sees the potential of the team, putting Syracuse at an 8 seed in the West.
According to Dick Vitale, a college basketball analyst at ESPN, UNC is a preseason top 15 team. This young Tar Heel team has massive potential with many rising stars on the roster. Garrison Brooks will be returning for his senior season and is one of the ACC’s top returning players. Alongside, Brooks the Tar Heels will have Armando Bacot and ESPN top 100 freshmen Day’Ron Sharpe(12) and Walker Kessler(14) to formulate a deep frontcourt, possibly the best big men in all of college basketball. In the backcourt, they are versatile with Leaky Black having a chip on his shoulder and talented incoming guards Caleb Love and R.J. Davis, who will have an immediate impact. However, as much hype and potential they have for their 2020-21 season, Andy Katz doesn’t seem to agree. While many top sports networks have put UNC at 16 or higher in preseason polls(CBS, Yahoo Sports, ESPN), which correlates to a 4 seed in March Madness, Katz has put UNC at No. 26 in his Power 36 rankings and a 7 seed in the March Madness tournament.
Coach Bob Huggins has an abundance of key returners this 2020-21 season: four starters and eight rotation players. This includes the dynamic duo of Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe. In the frontcourt will be senior Gabe Osabuohien, who’s become a defensive spark plug off the bench. Osabuohien had 34 steals and nine blocked shots in his junior season. In addition, the frontcourt will be even deeper with 247sports top 100 freshmen Isaiah Cottrell added to the roster. Despite all of the necessary pieces West Virginia has to be a top-caliber team, Andy Katz puts the Mountaineers at No. 23 in his Power 36 and a 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. As the season develops, Katz may be surprised as this elite Mountaineers’ squad will emphasize on their defense to push for a top 10 ranking. In contrast to Katz, ESPN has West Virginia at No. 17 in their preseason AP polls, as well as Yahoo Sports. In addition, Joe Lunardi has confidently put West Virginia as a 3 seed in March Madness. They sit comfortably alongside elite teams, Michigan State, Creighton and Texas.
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