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Gonzaga, Dayton & San Diego State All Top-10 March Madness Favorites; Can a Mid-Major Win 2020 Title?

Obi Toppin dunking
The Dayton Flyers, led by Obi Toppin, have +2000 national title odds. Photo from @ATLPtourney (Twitter).
  • #2 Gonzaga, #4 San Diego State, and #6 Dayton are all top-ten in the updated national championship odds
  • The Aztecs are the nation’s last remaining unbeaten squad at 23-0
  • Dayton has the #1 shooting percentage (60.1%) in the country

In a college basketball season in which there has been a revolving door at the top, the championship picture is wide open. That’s reflected in the 2020 National Championship odds, and the three mid-majors in the top ten.

Those three mid-majors are #2 Gonzaga (+1000), #4 San Diego State (+1800), and #6 Dayton (+2000), and each has made a strong case for being a credible national championship threat.

2020 National Championship Odds

Team Odds
Baylor Bears +1000
Gonzaga Bulldogs +1000
Kansas Jayhawks +1000
Louisville Cardinals +1100
Duke Blue Devils +1200
Michigan State Spartans +1600
San Diego State Aztecs +1800
Dayton Flyers +2000
Kentucky Wildcats +2000
Oregon Ducks +2200
Florida State Seminoles +2500
Seton Hall Pirates +2500
Villanova Wildcats +2600
Maryland Terrapins +2800
West Virginia Mountaineers +2800
Auburn Tigers +3300
Butler Bulldogs +3500
Arizona Wildcats +4000
Illinois Fighting Illini +4000
Iowa Hawkeyes +4000

Odds taken Feb 5.

With no juggernaut in the sport to get through, are any of these teams a good bet to win it all?

Zags Lead the Way

Mark Few’s Gonzaga team is the strongest and most-reliable squad out of the mid-major conferences once again. Year in and year out, this program fields a team that is capable of at least reaching the Sweet Sixteen. Now, in 2020, they have a chance to win a championship. They last reached the championship game in 2017(their first ever) when they fell to North Carolina and title game MVP Joel Berry.

The Zags are currently 23-1, and they’ve rattled off 15 straight victories since that lone defeat at the hands of Juwan Howard’s Michigan Wolverines. They can mostly credit the win streak to a productive offense. They rank first nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency at 120.9.

The main concern for Gonzaga is the health of Killian Tillie. He’s dealt with injury issues before, and he suffered an ankle injury just under a week ago against Santa Clara. He’s not the team’s only weapon, but he is certainly a key player.

Dayton Flying High in 2020

In his return to college basketball coaching, Anthony Grant may be having the best run of his career. He’s been at Dayton since 2017, and this third season is proving to be a special one. The Flyers are 20-2, and the only blemishes on that record came against #4 Kansas and #24 Colorado. This team is currently #6 in the AP Poll, and they could be in play for a 1-seed if they keep winning.

The offense, led by electric dunker Obi Toppin, has been one of the best in the nation. They’re second only to Gonzaga in adjusted offensive efficiency (120.1), and they’re first nationally in field-goal percentage (60.1%).

Aztecs Are Nation’s Last Unbeaten Team

San Diego State currently sits at 23-0, and they’re the only team in the country that still has that “0” in the loss column, outlasting the Auburn Tigers. Malachi Flynn is leading the way for the Aztecs, averaging 16.5 points and 5.1 assists per game.

Only six games remain between them and an undefeated regular season. They’ve gotten to this point with a defense that flusters opposing shooters. San Diego State is sixth nationally in defensive effective field-goal percentage, with opponents going 43.3% from the field.

Are These Mid-Majors a Strong Bet?

If there was ever a year that one of these teams was going to break through, it would be this one. The top of college basketball isn’t bad, but there’s a significant lack of powerhouses and elite blue-bloods. Gonzaga has already shown they can compete with elite teams in past tournaments, and the field is open enough for the Aztecs and Flyers to make serious runs.

Dayton, Gonzaga, and San Diego State are all legitimate top-ten teams, and they would warrant some love and hype in any season. In 2020, though, the values they provide at +1000, +1800, and +2000 are especially mouth-watering. The best team in that group, and the best bet, is still Mark Few and Gonzaga.

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