2020 LSU Tigers NCAA Basketball National Championship Odds with Predictions
The LSU Tigers are likely hoping for a year that looks similar to last year on the court, with much less drama off of it. On the court, the team went 16-2 in SEC play, and 28-7 overall, and overcame a disappointing early departure in the SEC Tournament to bounce back strong in the NCAA Tournament, beating Yale and upsetting Maryland as a No. 12 seed before losing to Michigan State in the Sweet 16. But off the court, there was too much drama. Head coach Will Wade, in his second year with the program, was suspended in March when it was revealed that an FBI wiretap had captured him discussing a big financial offer to a recruit. He missed the entire postseason. Miraculously, he was able to keep his job, but he had to make several concessions, including giving up some bonuses he could have earned and accepting that he can be fired with cause if any issues come up again. It was too much of a distraction for the team, though it obviously didn't hurt them too much on the court. And all that came after the team had been playing under a lot of stress all year after rising junior forward Wayde Sims, a starter, was shot and killed in September as the team prepared for the season.
LSU Tigers Additions/Losses
The team had some attrition last year, and we can't help but focus on two players. Sophomore point guard Tremont Waters led the team in scoring last year, and freshman power forward Naz Reid was second. Reid was the biggest prize in a stellar 2018 recruiting class that ranked fourth nationally, and Waters was the top player in a 2017 class that wasn't as strong. Both players declared for the draft, though the market clearly indicated that they weren't ready to - Waters was taken 51st by Boston, and Reid was not picked. Now both are stuck trying to distinguish themselves in the G-League. It might not be fair, but their departures will always have questions around them linked to the woes that Wade went through. Also notably gone are forward Kavell Bigby-Williams, a grad transfer who graduated, and junior guard Daryl Edwards, who left the team for personal reasons.
The loss of Reid isn't nearly as concerning as it could be. His departure opened up a spot for late signee Trendon Watford, a five-star power forward who has one and done potential as well. He's the top recruit in the state of Alabama, which is an added bonus for LSU fans. Expectations are high that he will provide at least what Reid did. Bigby-Wiliams was a rim protector, and they lack his kind of size or presence, so that is a much bigger concern. Juco transfer center Deshawn Thomas will have a chance to earn a look.
Sophomore Javonte Smart, another five-star who flirted with the NBA, is back and will take over from Waters as the ball handler on this team. Skylar Mays, a senior, started every game last year and returns after also looking at the NBA. Senior wing Marlon Taylor, another starter last year, is back, too. There is no shortage of backcourt experience even with Waters gone. And juco transfer Charles Manning Jr. and high school combo guard James Bishop will both be looking to carve out a role, too.
LSU Tigers Schedule
There are absolutely teams with much tougher nonconference schedules, but there are a few games of interest that will test the team. Their second game of the year is against a VCU team that was the last team in the preseason rankings. They play another ranked team, Utah State , in the Jamaica Classic. They play USC in L.A., but that shouldn't be that much of a test if the Tigers are on their game. And in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, they play at Texas. If the team were to have more than two nonconference losses, it would be a big cause for concern.
LSU Tigers Futures Odds and Trends
The Tigers are the fifth choice to win the SEC title at +1400. Kentucky is heavily favored at +125, with Florida at +250 , and Auburn and Tennessee also well ahead. They are at +6600 to win the national title, which puts them in a group of five teams behind 33 others. One of those five teams is Alabama, which is at +2200 to win the SEC, so the oddsmakers are not particularly high on this LSU squad.
The team was a strong 28-7 straight up last year and a slightly profitable 19-15-1 ATS for bettors. They had the same performance level on the totals front, going over 19 times and under 15 with a push.
LSU Tigers Predictions
I find this team hard to cheer for. Too much drama. Too much shadiness. And a style of play that isn't always captivating. They have some nice players, though - especially Watford and Smart. They are going to be a solid team, but I expect them to take a step back from last year. I'm not in love with them.
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