The college hoops season was rolling right along with thrilling upsets, court storms, and other great moments that only college basketball can provide. It’s not often you see two mid-major schools get a chance at a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but for Dayton and San Diego State, it is all left to the imagination. With that being said, it is never too early to start talking about next season, so let’s get into some predictions.
Seton Hall will be just fine
The Pirates are losing Myles Powell, a 21 PPG scorer and a first-team All-American. Powell led the Pirates to a projected #3 seed in the tournament (Per Joe Lunardi) before its cancellation. It will be a tough pill to swallow, but Bryce Aiken eases the pain. Aiken attended Harvard for the last four years, only playing one full season, however. Aiken averaged 16.7 points per game before going down with an injury midway through the year.
Aiken is joining Seton Hall as a grad transfer and surely will be a more than serviceable replacement for Myles Powell. The Pirates are also losing starting guard, Quincy McKnight. The Pirates may not be leading the Big East in 2021 but they should still be able to dance come March.
PREDICTION: #6 to #8 seed in the NCAA tournament.
What happens to Maryland?
Maryland was a team that really had a shot at a final four bid this season, led by senior guard Anthony Cowan. Maryland was eyeing a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament (Lunardi). An experienced team that scores the ball is exactly what you want in March, and this team was it, but like everyone else, they can only imagine what could have been. Maryland will be losing its top two scorers in Cowan and Jalen Smith.
Smith was a sophomore who declared for the NBA draft. They could be in some trouble with no top 100 recruits coming in, and the loss of two top scorers, they’ll fall out of the national title conversation. It is up to senior Darryl Morsell and junior Aaron Wiggins to get this team back to the top of the Big Ten.
PREDICTION: NIT bound.
Does UNC rebound?
North Carolina had a really bad year in 2019. They tied with Wake Forest for the cellar of the ACC and only won 14 games. It is not often you see Roy Williams’ squad in such a lowly position. They should rebound next year and be able to keep up with Duke, FSU, Louisville, and UVA. Despite losing a lot of seniors and most likely Cole Anthony as well, they have 4 top 50 recruits coming in next season.
PREDICTION: 4th in ACC, #6 seed in NCAA Tournament.
What will happen to Dayton?
Dayton was built like a real team, they were deep and had reliable scorers, and of course, Obi Toppin. Toppin won just about every single award he was eligible for this year and also led Dayton to a 29-2 record, finishing 3rd in the final AP Poll. Toppin declared for the draft, along with fellow teammate, Jalen Crutcher.
Crutcher, a junior, will keep his eligibility throughout the process and likely will return to Dayton for his senior year, which would be huge for the Flyers. Dayton also loses key pieces in Trey Landers and Ryan Mikesell. Dayton could be heading for purgatory next year after a dream season, but it is on head coach Anthony Grant to steer them clear of the fog and stay in the right direction.
PREDICTION: NIT bound.
Who are the dark horses for a final four run?
Every year you have Duke and Kentucky trying for a shot at a national title and some years you have teams like Loyola-Chicago or Wichita State who make thrilling Cinderella runs, and in 2021, there may be a couple teams who could make a final four run.
West Virginia Mountaineers
WVU turned the whole ship around last season; they went 21-10 and finished 24th in the AP Poll. They ranked 300th in the nation in experience, so this team next year may be able to go 12 guys deep, and all 12 can really defend well. It is a usual Bob Huggins team; they play tough, relentless defense. The big flaw is scoring, but the team adds a transfer guard in Kedrian Johnson, and the development of Miles McBride and Taz Sherman could a long way for Huggins and his squad.
What a year it was for Luka Garza; he nearly averaged a double-double and fell short of the National Player of the Year award. Garza declared for the draft but will maintain eligibility. The development of Joe Wieskamp, a 14 PPG sophomore, will go a long way for Iowa as they look to have one of the best 1-2 punches in the nation with Wieskamp and Garza. If Garza returns, Iowa could have a very special season.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
In their last 2 tournament appearances, the Red Raiders finished in the Elite Eight in 2018 and as runner ups in 2019. Texas Tech likely loses star freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey to the NBA Draft but it should not stop the Red Raiders from having a very good team. Chris Beard acquired the best recruiting class in school history along with keeping three starters and one of them being Davide Moretti, who averaged 13 points a contest while shooting 38% from beyond the arc. Texas Tech also struck gold in the transfer market after adding a nearly 12 point-per-game scorer from UNLV named Joel Ntambwe. This could be the making of another final four run for the Red Raiders.