By LARRY VAUGHT
If an anonymous poll of over 100 college basketball coaches by CBS Sports writers Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander is right, experience counts a lot more than new talent when it comes to win the 2020 national basketball championship (see the complete story at https://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/news/candid-coaches-what-team-is-going-to-win-the-2020-ncaa-tournament-championship/).
Michigan State — the team Kentucky opens the season against Nov. 5 in the State Farm Champions Classic in New York — got 54 percent of the votes from the college coaches asked to pick the 2020 national champion. Kansas came in next at 17 percent.
Coach John Calipari’s Wildcats were next at 12 percent followed by Duke at 7 percent and Florida 5 percent.
Here are a few of the quotes from the coaches that the CBS writers said stood out to them:
“I wanted to go against the grain but just too many cases to be made for them (Michigan State). With them returning a number of key guys and them getting a taste of the Final Four last year, I think they are primed to get back. Cassius Winston may just be the best winner and leader in college basketball,” one coach said. “Add that with (Tom) Izzo’s experience and drive and I think they have a national-championship-winning formula. The bull’s-eye will be on their back all season, so that could be the slight knock against them if that proves to be too much pressure.”
What about Kansas?
“This is exactly the type of team (coach) Bill (Self) is great with. No freshmen stars. Just older dudes who can play,” one coach told the CBS writers.
Florida probably surprises many by being the fifth choice among the coaches polled. What one coach said might irk UK fans a bit.
“Florida is the one I think people are overlooking. I’d bet on that team to win the SEC before I bet on Kentucky,” the coach said.
Ouch. But Florida returns a ton of talent plus the nation’s top graduate transfer.
Another coach remains a Calipari backer and believer in the Wildcats who thinks Michigan State fares better when it is hunted rather than the hunter like it will be going into the season No. 1.
“It’ll be interesting to see if they (Michigan State) can keep their edge or if the hunger that was there last year is gone. That’s why I’m going with the University of Kentucky to win it all,” the coach said. “A few years back you couldn’t turn on a television without seeing or hearing Coach Cal and the Wildcats, but lately people are doubting them both on the court and on the recruiting trail. Every team goes through a down cycle, even Kentucky, but they are going to be a hungry bunch all year and into March.”