The Unpredictability of the 2019-20 College Basketball Season

If the rest of the season is going to be as unpredictable as non-conference play has been, college basketball fans are in for a ride. 

There have already been four teams taking the No. 1 place: Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke and Louisville, but none of these once-No. 1 teams remain undefeated.

  • Louisville pulled off a 15-point win over a hot No. 4 Michigan team in a Big 10/ACC match-up but lost their undefeated status when Texas Tech took down the Cardinals in a 70-57 upset on Tuesday. 
  • In more Big 10/ACC news, a No. 7 North Carolina lost to Ohio State by 25 points and Purdue marched past No. 5 and reigning champion Virginia by 29 points. 

And even those large-point margins between top-25 teams aren’t as crazy as the upsets we previously mentioned.

  • In the first week, Evansville beat the then No. 1 Kentucky on Kentucky’s home turf. 
  • Then, Stephen F. Austin upset the then-No.1 Duke at Cameron, after a little banter on Twitter, which made it all the more sweet for SFA. 
  • The same Michigan team who lost to Louisville by 15, beat both the then-No. 6 North Carolina and then-No. 8 Gonzaga back-to-back. 

So who has survived the crazy upsets of this season so far? There are 5 unbeaten teams remaining.

  1. Auburn is 8-0 on the season. The Tigers are averaging 85 points per game and holding their opponents’ leading scorers to an 11-point average. Their only game in a 17-day quiet stretch was an overtime nail-biter against Furman. On Saturday, Auburn will face an 8-1 St. Louis team in the Mike Slive Invitational at a neutral site in Birmingham, Alabama.
  2. Liberty has been compared to Virginia’s team this year, as they have only allowed an average of 49.6 points per game. The Flames are 11-0 on the year but have a lot of SEC traffic in their future, as they prepare to face LSU later this month. 
  3. The 9-0 Ohio State team possess a winning average margin of 26.2 - the largest in the country. Penn State can attest, as they tried hard to keep it close, but the Buckeyes went on to score 40 points in 12 minutes, leading to a 106-74 victory. Ohio State is only the fourth team in AP poll history to beat two top-10 opponents by at least 25 points in the same season. The other three - Villanova, Duke and UCLA - all ended up national champions in their respective seasons. The Buckeyes travel to their first Big 10 road game versus Minnesota on Sunday and face Kentucky in Las Vegas on December 21.
  4. San Diego State is 10-0, with an impressive 83-52 win over Creighton and 83-73 win over Iowa during the Continental Tires Las Vegas Invitational. Washington State transfer Malachi Flynn leads his team, scoring 21-28-23 in three games and hit a 3-point buzzer with 0.9 seconds left in front of a San Jose home crowd to keep his team undefeated. San Diego State’s biggest match-up will come against Utah State on January 4, and according to the NCAA, this could end as the biggest match-up in the Mountain West conference this season. 
  5. Duquesne joins the undefeated crowd at 8-0 with their best start in almost 50 years. The Duke’s haven’t faced a tough schedule, but they also won’t be playing in a true home venue this season as their arena goes under renovation. While Duquesne only has a 14 percent chance of outlasting the others and standing as the final unbeaten team in the 2019-20 season, the team does boast the No. 1 shot-blocking team in college basketball. The Duke’s might make it past their next four matchups, who’s combined records are 13-18, but their final stand could be versus Saint Louis on January 2. 

For basketball fans, it’s hardly worth it today to try and predict which teams will make it to March Madness come spring 2020. We’d like to report that the big games are being won by better all-around shooting performances, and most are; but in the SFA vs. Duke upset, Duke outperformed SFA in almost every statistic, excluding steals and turnovers. It was SFA’s defense and persistent shooting that ended Duke’s non-conference home-court streak. In the end, it will come down who will have the edge when top defensive teams match up with top offenses.