Virginia good enough to repeat?
Virginia rose to the top of college basketball last month as it celebrated a national championship. With the start of the 2019-20 season six months away, can Virginia navigate through major expectations as one of the favorites to win another national title?
Odds to win the 2020 national championship were put out nearly immediately after Virginia won the national title and now a month later, the Cavaliers are even with Kentucky at 7/1 with the best odds to hoist the title trophy next April. Duke and Michigan State have the next-best odds at 8/1, while Michigan is at 12/1. Gonzaga, North Carolina and Villanova are all set at 14/1.
The Cavaliers are coming off a fantastic 35-3 season en route to the national championship, but will have a couple question marks with Ty Jerome and De'Andre Hunter leaving early for the NBA. They will return sharpshooting guard Kyle Guy as a senior and several other capable players, plus incoming recruits who head coach Tony Bennett has a high success rate at eyeing who fit perfectly into his scheme.
As for Kentucky, coach John Calipari is often bringing in new heavily hyped recruits every season and this will be no different. A pair of top-10 nationally ranked recruits join the fray in Kahlil Whitney and Tyrese Maxey. Keion Brooks is another highly ranked recruit who should make a big splash. The Wildcats will also lose a lot of firepower including Reid Travis, P.J. Washington, Keldon Johnson, Ashton Hagans and Tyler Herro. But while that is plenty of lost production, history tells us with Kentucky to not worry so much about what players are leaving when there is such a fresh talented group taking their place.
Michigan State made a Final Four run this past season and will return National Player of the Year candidate in senior-to-be point guard Cassius Winston along with a slew of other key contributors. If the Spartans get off to a fast start next season, they could quickly jump up to being the favorites to win the national championship.
Duke will be interesting since it is losing a major freshmen trio to the NBA in Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. But the Blue Devils also constantly reloads and will have a chip on their shoulder after falling in the Elite 8 to Michigan State despite being the big favorites to win the NCAA Tournament in 2019.