The 2019-20 college basketball season is officially in the books. The NCAA tournament was canceled last week, meaning no national champion was crowned for the first time since the postseason began in 1939.
The abrupt ending left many coaches and players heartbroken from the cancellation of March Madness after preparing all season for the grand finale.
That brings us to next year. With spring sports suspended and those seniors getting a chance for an extra year of eligibility, it's unclear if similar waivers will be granted to college basketball seniors who played a full season outside of the postseason.
Regardless, it will make for an intriguing offseason, which always includes players entering the NBA draft, transfers and late decisions from incoming freshmen. Until then, we'll try to estimate which teams are best positioned to be among the nation's elite come November when the college basketball season tips off in the lead-up to a sure-to-be-anticipated 2021 NCAA tournament — alas the return of March Madness.
1. Gonzaga (31-2 in 2019-20). Filip Petrusev (17.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg) was a national player of the year candidate in 2019-20 and is likely back. Even if key players Killian Tillie and Joel Ayayi depart for the NBA, coach Mark Few still has a stellar roster of returners and the arrival of five-star guard Jalen Suggs, the No. 8 recruit (per 247 Sports' Composite rankings).
2. Baylor (26-4). The Bears' lone expected departing starter, Freddie Gillespie, could be replaced by Tristan Clark, who averaged 14.6 points and 6.3 rebounds as a sophomore but was slowed this past season after a knee injury. If Clark is back to full strength and there are no unexpected NBA departures, coach Scott Drew could be looking at another team capable of a Final Four run. Leading scorer Jared Butler (16.0 ppg) heads a loaded returning backcourt that can again wreak havoc on the Big 12.
3. Virginia (23-7). The reigning national champions (yes, because 2019 was the last time the title nets were cut down) are likely to lose leading scorer Mamadi Diakite (13.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) but return two-year starter Kihei Clark (10.8 ppg, 5.9 apg) and blossoming big man Jay Huff from a group that won eight in a row to close out 2019-20. Coach Tony Bennett's Cavaliers again led the nation in scoring defense (allowing opponents 52.4 points per game) this past season and his offense will get a huge boost from eligible Marquette transfer Sam Hauser as well as a strong recruiting class.
4. Kentucky (25-6). Coach John Calipari has only one projected NBA lottery pick in Tyrese Maxey this offseason, meaning he could see top players Immanuel Quickley, Nick Richards, and Ashton Hagans return from a team he considered good enough to win a national title. If they do come back, it's a bonus. That's because the Wildcats will have another star-studded freshman class that includes five-stars Terrence Clarke and BJ Boston.
5. Creighton (24-7). After a breakthrough season that saw the Bluejays win a share of the Big East and position themselves for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tourney, it's likely that everyone is back. The key returnees are guards Ty-Shon Alexander (16.9 ppg 5.0 rpg) and Marcus Zegarowski. Expect coach Greg McDermott's veteran-laden squad to have high expectations in 2020-21.
6. Duke (25-6). Coach Mike Krzyzewski once again has an epic recruiting class that will fill immediate voids and gel together under a Hall of Famer. It's likely the Blue Devils' top producers Vernon Carey Jr. and Tre Jones are gone for the NBA and Cassius Stanley might also join them. But that paves the way for five-star freshmen Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach and DJ Steward to join a solid group of returning role players in Durham.
7. Iowa (20-11). Assuming big man Luka Garza (23.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg) is back, coach Fran McCaffery will have himself a Big Ten championship-caliber team centered around the 6-11 All-American. The nucleus around Garza is strong with guards Joe Wieskamp, Joe Toussaint, CJ Fredrick and the coach's son — Connor McCaffery. The Hawkeyes could also get a huge boost if former All-Big Ten guard Jordan Bohannon earns a medical redshirt year of eligibility after missing most of his senior year.
8. Wisconsin (21-10). The Badgers might have something to say about Big Ten supremacy, poised to bring the core — D’Mitrik Trice, Brad Davidson, Aleem Ford, Micah Potter and Nate Reuvers — all back from a Big Ten co-champion squad. Greg Gard garnered national coach of the year attention for piloting Wisconsin to eight consecutive wins after starter Kobe King opted to transfer midseason. The recipe was a patient offense and disciplined defense that could be even better in 2020-21.
9. Florida State (26-5). Coach Leonard Hamilton guided the Seminoles to their first regular-season ACC championship by using length and depth to overwhelm opponents. Look for a similar playbook next season, and perhaps more talent. FSU landed five-star freshman Scottie Barnes, a 6-8 point forward who can make an immediate impact. Same goes for JUCO transfer Sardaar Calhoun, a 6-6 scorer with length and athleticism. Should top producers Devin Vassell or Patrick Williams return to Tallahassee, there will be even more firepower.
10. Texas Tech (18-13). Coach Chris Beard had a young team that started several freshmen replacing his national runner-up squad in 2019-20 and the growing pains showed to put the Red Raiders on the NCAA tourney bubble before it was canceled. But last season's close losses could turn into next season's blessings. Rising sophomore Jahmi'us Ramsey (15.0 ppg) will be an elite player and sharpshooter Davide Moretti returns for his senior year. An added piece will be Joel Ntambwe, who sat out this season as a transfer from UNLV.
11. Oregon (24-7). The Ducks are losing Pac-12 Player of the Year Payton Pritchard but won't be short on talent. Coach Dana Altman has hauled in two eligible transfers who could be breakout players in Eugene Omoruyi (Rutgers) and Eric Williams (Duquesne) to go along with some key returning pieces.
12. Villanova (24-7). The Wildcats will likely lose leading scorer Saddiq Bey to the NBA draft. Collin Gillespie (15.1 ppg, 4.5 apg) could be poised to be one of the best players in the Big East as a senior, and Tulane transfer Caleb Daniels will add necessary scoring to help fill Bey's void. Look for rising sophomore Jermaine Robinson-Earl to blossom in the frontcourt after a freshman campaign nearly averaging a double-double.
13. Kansas (28-3). Coach Bill Self will lose Udoka Azubuike to graduation and Devon Dotson to the NBA from one of his best teams ever. But he brings back some talented glue players ready to rise into more prominent roles like Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji and big man David McCormack. Five-star freshman Bryce Thompson and junior college transfer Tyon Grant-Foster will be lightning rod newcomers.
14. Tennessee (17-14). The Volunteers have a fantastic freshman class that should blend well with a returning nucleus (Yves Pons, John Fulkerson, Josiah Jordan-James and Santiago Vescovi). Five-star guards Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson should give coach Rick Barnes a significant boost to make the Vols an SEC title contender.
15. San Diego State (30-2). Coming off a storybook season in which the Aztecs almost went undefeated, replicating 2019-20 could be a tall task for coach Brian Dutcher. All-America guard Malachi Flynn will have a tough decision to make on whether to return or pursue an NBA future. Perhaps an NCAA tournament-less season could convince him to stay. The key loss is starting big man Yanni Wetzell to graduation.
16. Michigan (19-12). Juwan Howard proved he can coach in 2019-20, keeping the Wolverines in the national conversation. He also proved he could recruit, as Michigan holds the No. 4 recruiting class (per 247 Sports Composite list). Howard will have veteran returnees Isaiah Livers, Franz Wagner and Eli Brooks to lean on but could see his best production out of five-star freshmen Joshua Christopher (who has yet to fully commit to Michigan) and Isaiah Todd.
17. West Virginia (21-10). The Mountaineers could return all five starters from an inexperienced team that hung tough in the Big 12 this past season under coach Bob Huggins' pressing defense and deep bench philosophy. Oscar Tshiebwe (11.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg), a 6-9 rising sophomore, should take a big step next season.
18. North Carolina (14-19). The 2019-20 season was a nightmare for the Tar Heels in coach Roy Williams' most frustrating season at the helm, so expect UNC to come out with new life in 2020-21. Carolina will likely lose standout freshman Cole Anthony to the NBA draft, but the Tar Heels have reloaded with a talented freshman class made up of three five-stars in Day’Ron Sharpe, Walker Kessler and Caleb Love.
19. Michigan State (22-9). Coach Tom Izzo will lose Cassius Winston and likely Xavier Tillman from a preseason title favorite that underachieved in 2019-20. But some of his best teams have been ones that didn't have much hype, which next year's roster will fall under. Marquette transfer Joey Hauser will be eligible to join returnees Aaron Henry and Rocket Watts. It's also possible Joshua Langford, who was sidelined all season with a foot injury, decides to stay.
20. UCLA (19-12). Coach Mick Cronin turned a disastrous season into a second-place finish in the Pac-12 and a potential NCAA tournament at-large bid. Cronin did that with a bare-bones roster in Westwood, so expect 2020-21 to start off better with a more experienced group and incoming talent, namely five-star freshman Daishen Nix.
21. Houston (23-8). The regular-season co-champion in the American Athletic, the Cougars figure to bring back their top six scorers led by Quentin Grimes and Caleb Mills. Kelvin Sampson's young roster will be grown up in 2020-21.
22. LSU (21-10). The Tigers lose leading scorer Skylar Mays but coach Will Wade brings back plenty of talent – including several players averaging double figures – and welcomes five-star guard Cameron Thomas. This group should be well positioned to vie for the SEC title. If transfer Shareef O'Neal, Shaq's son, is granted eligibility for 2020-21, look out.
23. Florida (19-12). Coach Michael White went out and got the nation's top junior college transfer in Osayi Osifo, a 6-8 versatile forward. He'll join a returning nucleus of Keyontae Johnson, Andrew Nembhard and Noah Locke. If rising sophomore Scottie Lewis waits a year on the NBA it'll be a nice bonus.
24. Oklahoma State (18-14). The Cowboys welcome the nation's top recruit, Cade Cunningham (No. 1 per 247 Sports Composite list) to a roster that will have size and athleticism. Guard Isaac Likekele, the team's second leading scorer, could be an ideal sidekick to Cunningham.
25. Arizona State (20-11). Coach Bob Hurley drifted his team away from the NCAA tournament bubble this March after back-to-back seasons ending up in the First Four. In 2020-21 he should have a team poised to compete for the Pac-12 title again. Remy Martin (19.1 ppg) and Alonzo Verge Jr. (14.6 ppg) are top returners on a roster that welcomes elite freshman Marcus Bagley.
Also considered: Indiana, Northern Iowa, Colorado, Purdue, Texas, Southern California, Rutgers, Illinois, Louisville, Connecticut.