No team from outside a current power conference has won a national championship in college basketball since UNLV in 1990, but that drought could end come April. Here are the only schools with a realistic shot and their NCAAB odds. We are not including Dayton as we looked at the Flyers’ chances on Thursday here at Mybookie College Basketball Odds.
NCAAB: Can Any Non-Power Conference Teams Win National Title?
Gonzaga should be a No. 1 seed in the NCAAB Tournament after winning yet another West Coast Conference Tournament title this week – the Zags lost just one conference game all season and two overall. The other loss was around Thanksgiving at a neutral site against Michigan. The Zags also won 2019-20 West Coast Conference regular season outright, their eighth straight regular season title and 23rd overall in program history. Gonzaga beat conference opponents by an average of 20.1 points this season during league play.
Coach Mark Few has the best offensive team in the country, and the Zags can fill it up from multiple spots. No team can go to as many players to score. The Zags are the lone team in the nation to have six players averaging double-digit scoring per game, with a seventh scoring 9.6 points per outing. But Gonzaga is not a great defensive team, and really good offenses can put up points against the Zags.
Filip Petrusev was named WCC Player of the Year. Petrusev averages a team-high 17.8 points per game, which ranks third in the West Coast Conference. He tops the league shooting 56.5 percent from the field. The sophomore is second in the WCC grabbing 7.8 rebounds per game, 5.4 defensive boards per game (third in WCC) and 2.4 offensive rebounds per game (fourth in WCC). He is ninth blocking 0.8 shots each game. Petrusev draws 7.8 fouls per 40 minutes, which is the third-most in the nation.
Corey Kispert and Killian Tillie joined Petrusev as All-WCC First Team selections. Kispert is 11th in the league in points per game (14.3) and ninth in minutes played per game (32.9). He leads the team in free-throw percentage (.818). Tillie led the league in field goal percentage during WCC play (58.0). He averaged 15.1 points in conference action, and 13.6 points overall.
Petrusev, Kispert and Tillie all are finalists for national Player of the Year Awards at their position. Joel Ayayi and Ryan Woolridge were tabbed honorable mention All-Conference, and Drew Timme was named to the All-Freshman team.
GU is the only program in the nation to have reached 30 wins in each of the past four seasons.
San Diego State (+1300)
San Diego State, which was the last team in the nation to lose this season (Feb. 22 vs. UNLV) likely lost its chance at the school’s first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAAB Tournament with a 59-56 upset loss to Utah State in the Mountain West Tournament title game last Saturday. The Aggies’ Sam Merrill hit a contested 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds to play.
The Aztecs (30-2), who led by as many 16 points in the first half, had a chance to force overtime, but Malachi Flynn’s 3-point shot from just beyond half court rattled in and out at the buzzer. Utah State dropped both regular-season meetings to San Diego State, losing 77-68 at home and 80-68 on the road.
This is the best San Diego State team since Kawhi Leonard led the Aztecs to the Sweet 16 in 2010-11. Can this team go further than that one? The metrics say yes. SDSU is top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Most likely, SDSU will be a No. 2 seed in the West Region for the NCAAB Tournament.
San Diego State’s 30-2 start ties its best 32-game record in school history. San Diego State is 16-1 in road/neutral games this season, which is very important for the NCAA Tournament. San Diego State is 5-1 in neutral court games this season, including wins over Creighton, Iowa and Utah State. SDSU is 11-1 in NCAA NET Quadrant 1 and 2 games this season, with 11 of those victories coming away from home
Flynn is the team’s star and is the first Aztecs player to be recognized as an All-American since Xavier Thames in 2014. Flynn finished the regular season averaging 17.6 points, 5.1 assists and 4.4 rebounds while shooting 44.7 percent from the floor, 37.2 percent from long range and 85.7 percent from the line.
The junior guard ranks seventh on the program’s single season scoring list with 564 points. In addition, he is 4th in free throw percentage (87.5 percent), 6th in three point attempts (204), 7th in assists (163), 8th in three-pointers (76), 9th in points-rebounds-assists (870), 15th in field goal attempts (417), 18th in scoring average (17.6/g) and assists (163), and 23rd in field goals (184) and free throws (120).
Flynn was named Mountain West Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, and is on several National Player of the Year lists.