Welcome back all & a very happy Friday! As you all know, I've been doing my best to keep March Madness alive in lieu of no sports (and really no anything), to provide us some kind of a positive outlet for us to focus some our attention - even if it's for just a few moments. I simulated the entire NCAA Tournament using my Official 2020 March Madness Bracket and crowned a sim National Champion (3-seed Kentucky), and today I'm back with one last college hoops post to close out the season.
With no tournament this year, we were all robbed of the chance to witness a tournament that many felt would have been as wide-open as any that we've seen in recent memory. There were plenty of surprise stories this year, a couple of traditional blue bloods who picked it up as the season wore on and finished on hot streaks, and several teams that would have all come into the tournament with a realistic shot at reaching the Final Four, and perhaps even to win it all.
As we officially turn the page on the 2019-20 college hoops season, what better way to wrap up than with my End of Season College Hoops Ultimate Top 25. In a wild & whacky season, that ended with no NCAA tournament for the first time since they began the competition way back in 1939, there were several teams that had legitimate claims to finish in the top 25.
We start at the back end of the rankings, where East Tennessee State managed to crack the final Top 25 of the season. The Buccaneers managed to sneak into the final set of rankings after a banner season that saw them win 30 games & capture both the Southern regular season & conference tournament championships. At 30-4, and a team that many thought could have done some damage in the tournament, ETSU deserves a spot in the final top 25, and they round out the rankings at #25.
Joining the Bucs at the back end of the top 25 are the Fighting Illini of Illinois, who check-in at 24, the Butler Bulldogs, who peaked early in the season, and were ranked in the top 10, at #23, American Athletic Co-Champ, Houston, at 22, the Ohio State Buckeyes out of the Big TEN at #21, and the BYU Cougars out of the West Coast Conference, who enjoyed a stellar season themselves, and even reached as high as #8 in the NET rankings, round out the top 20.
The Auburn Tigers started the season 15-0, but finished just 10-6 from that point, and finish up at #19. Bruce Pearl once again had a quality squad, but with a relatively weak non-conference slate (Richmond, Furman, N.C. State - all three were 'bubble' teams, and none were a lock to reach the tournament), the Tigers finish up a bit farther back in the rankings then what a team with their record typically would. Nonetheless it was a successful season once again for the Tigers.
West Virginia, Virginia, and Louisville finish up at #s 18, 17, and 16, respectively. The Oregon Ducks check-in at #15 to close out the season after winning the Pac-12 regular season crown by a game over the UCLA Bruins. Just ahead of the Ducks are a whole slew of other conference champions or co-champions, starting with the Seton Hall Pirates at #14. They split the Big East Title three ways, with #12 Villanova, and #11 Creighton - who beat the Pirates in the regular season finale. Sandwiched in between are the Wisconsin Badgers at #13. The Badgers finished the season by winning 8 straight to get a share of the Big TEN regular season Title.
Speaking of the Big TEN 3-way Champions, joining Wisconsin atop the toughest rated league in the country this season, was conference co-Champion Maryland, leading off the top 10, followed by the other co-Champ, in the Michigan State Spartans who finish up at #9. Just ahead of the Terps & Sparty, is another familiar program to the Top 10, the Duke Blue Devils. The Dukies finished up in a 3-way tie for 2nd place in the ACC, a game behind Champion Florida State.
Moving along the Top 10, Kentucky won 9 of their last 10, including a thriller at Florida to close out the regular season in what would be the Wildcats' final game of the season. The SEC regular season Champs finish up the season at #7, and would have most likely garnered a 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Just ahead of the Wildcats, are the Baylor Bears, who spent a good portion of early 2020 sitting atop the top 25 as the #1 team in the land. They may have finished second to Kansas in the Big XII, but the Bears still had a sparkling record of 26-4, and would have more-than-likely snagged a 1-seed in the tournament.
Rounding out the Final Top 25 of the season, is our top 5. ACC Champion Florida State checks-in at #5, as Leonard Hamilton's bunch might have been a serious threat to break through to their first Final Four. Mountain West regular season Champion, San Diego State finishes at #4. The Aztecs were the final remaining unbeaten team in the land getting off to a 25-0 start, and finished up 30-2.
Finally, closing out the final rankings of the season are another surprise team this season in the Dayton Flyers. Obie Toppin & co. enjoyed a high-flying, dominant regular season that included 29 victories, and a perfect unbeaten record within A-10 play. Who knows what the Flyers could have accomplished, but this team could have been a major threat to join the 1990 UNLV squad as the last team from outside of one of the "power" conferences to win the National Title. They finish up at #3. That brings us to the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who finish up the season at #2. The Zags managed a 31-2 record, that included both the WCC regular season & conference tournament crowns. The conference featured two other standout teams this year with Saint Mary's & BYU, along with an outstanding nonconference schedule, made this year's Bulldogs a real threat to cut-down the nets.
Lastly, that brings us to the #1 team in the land, the Kansas Jayhawks. Bill Self's squad hadn't lost a game since losing at home to Baylor in early January, and coasted to yet another regular season Big XII conference title. They would have been the favorite to cutdown the nets at the end of the tournament, but of course, the Jayhawks' shortcomings over the years as a higher-seed are well documented. Would this year have been different? We will never know. Nonetheless, the Jayhawks finished the season as the best team in the country, and certainly earned that spot with their impressive play down the stretch.
As always, there were a plethora of teams that finished just outside of the top 25. A group that featured the Liberty Flames, another mid-major that had an outstanding season, as they went 30-4, the Providence Friars, who finished the season as one of the hottest in the country out of the Big East. Ed Cooley's bunch scored 5 victories against teams ranked in the top 25 & 8 'Quad 1' victories over the last month of the season. Penn State, Iowa, and Michigan out of the Big TEN all spent chunks of time ranked in the top 25 during the season, UCLA closed the season on an impressive run as well, and Stephen F. Austin managed a sparkling 28-3 record as well.
That does it for this year's college hoops coverage, one last note before I unveil the final set of rankings - teams that won a regular-season conference title (or were a Co-Champion) tend to get a bit more consideration than those who did not. Afterall, there should be somekind of acknowledgement for winning a Confernce Title. Alright here we go, without any further ado, here is my Ultimate College Hoops Top 25 - End of Season Edition:
Ultimate College Hoops Top 25
1 KANSAS (28-3) 🏆
2 GONZAGA (31-2) 🏆
3 DAYTON (29-2) 🏆
4 SAN DIEGO ST. (30-2) 🏆
5 FLORIDA ST. (26-5) 🏆
6 BAYLOR (26-4)
7 KENTUCKY (25-6) 🏆
8 DUKE (25-6)
9 MICHIGAN ST. (22-9) 🏆
10 MARYLAND (24-7) 🏆
11 CREIGHTON (24-7) 🏆
12 VILLANOVA (24-7) 🏆
13 WISCONSIN (21-10) 🏆
14 SETON HALL (21-9) 🏆
15 OREGON (24-7) 🏆
16 LOUISVILLE (24-7)
17 VIRGINIA (23-7)
18 WEST VIRGINIA (21-10)
19 AUBURN (25-6)
20 BYU (24-8)
21 OHIO STATE (21-10)
22 HOUSTON (23-8)*🏆
23 BUTLER (22-9)*
24 ILLINOIS (21-10)*
25 E. TENNESSEE ST. (30-4)* 🏆
Arizona (21-11), Liberty (30-4)🏆, Providence (19-12), Penn State (21-10), Iowa (20-11), Michigan (19-12), Saint Mary's (25-8), Colorado (21-11), UCLA (19-12), SFA (28-3)🏆, Cincinnati (20-10)🏆
*-New to the rankings
🏆-Denotes respective regular season Conference Champion / Co-Champion
20 Iowa, 22 Arizona, 23 Michigan, 25 Marquette
As always, I appreciate the support and would love to get your thoughts in the comments section below. What do you think of the final rankings of the season? I'll be back again launching a series of YouTube videos discussing the current state of the sporting world, what some long-term effects could be, and where we go moving forward. I'll look ahead to the NFL draft, and to NBA playoffs (if they still happen this summer). In the meantime, stay calm, stay safe, and stay positive!!
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