Up until a short while ago, there were three teams co-favored to win the Big Dance in 2020:
Kansas Jayhawks, Baylor Bears, and Gonzaga Bulldogs.
But that has changed over the last 10 days.
Up until a few days ago, this year’s field was considered the most open in many years. And it still is … but one team has taken root firmly at the top of the odds boards.
The Kansas Jayhawks are the favorites on the college basketball odds boards, still, Baylor isn’t too far behind. But the 64 to 61 victory the Jayhawks got over the Bears at Baylor on February 22nd is what solidified them as the clear-cut leaders in the race for the NCAA title.
We could see some more shifting. If the Texas Tech Red Raiders get a win on March 7th, there could be a flip-flop in the projections. Remember, Texas Tech took the Jayhawks down to the wire on February first at Allen Fieldhouse, losing by just 3 points. Now the Red Raiders will be hosting the Jayhawks so it isn’t outside of the realm of possibility to see Texas Tech win at home.
Ok. Beyond this, what else do we know?
The Big East has the most teams likely to be bracketed on Selection Sunday, and the Pac-12 is second … also, with a ton of bubble teams. Another favorite, pushing out Gonzaga is Dayton. They are now 3rd highest on the odds boards and are the mid-major team, other than Gonzaga that everyone should fear.
That said, I don’t see Dayton getting a No. 1 seed. It should still go to the Zags.
Most of the top analyst’s bracket predictions agree on four No. 1 teams:
● The Kansas Jayhawks
● The San Diego State Aztecs
● The Baylor Bears
● The Gonzaga Bulldogs
Possible No. 2s:
● The Dayton Flyers
● The Florida State Seminoles
● The Seton Hall Pirates
● The Maryland Terrapins
The Likely No. 3s:
● The Duke Blue Devils
● The Villanova Wildcats
● The Kentucky Wildcats
● The Creighton Bluejays
No. 4s We Should See:
● The Oregon Ducks
● The Louisville Cardinals
● The Penn State Nittany Lions
● The Michigan State Spartans
Rounding Out the No. 5 Seeds:
● The Iowa Hawkeyes
● The Arizona Wildcats
● The Wisconsin Badgers
● The Auburn Tigers
Teams on the Bubble
Saturday and Sunday will be big days for Xavier, Wichita State, Indiana, and Cincinnati.
Let’s start with the Bearcats. Cincy has had four nonconference losses to well, bad teams. So if they don’t get a win over Houston this week, who are another team on the bubble, they are likely to get left out. They simply don’t have a schedule left that has enough significant wins to move them beyond those four ridiculous losses.
Xavier has a rough road ahead. They take on Providence and also host a tough Butler team. But they also have to defeat the Hoyas. If they can run the table, they will probably land somewhere in the middle of the bracket. If not, they may be left out.
Indiana was looking good, and then they faced Purdue and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from the field. So, now the Hoosiers find themselves back on the bubble. But a win against Illinois could’ve spared them the need to beat Wisconsin. Now they have to beat Minnesota and Wisconsin or they are out. And even so … it’s still pretty dicey.
The Shockers are back on track, winning 4 of their last 5. But they don’t have any real quality teams left on their schedule, even though it’s not an easy one. They need to keep rolling if they want to stay alive in the upcoming AAC tourny.
UCLA took down both the Arizona State Sun Devils and then the Arizona Wild Cats to rise like Phoenixes! Still, they are not completely out of the woods yet. They face a USC Trojans team at Galen Center. The Bruins have won seven straight games; the Trojans dropped one to Utah but also beat Arizona and Arizona State back-to-back. A hostile environment rivalry game is a tough challenge, and UCLA needs this win to enter an extremely tough Pac-12 tournament with any hope of surviving into the later rounds. Many have the Bruins on the list as one of the first four out.