The 2019-2020 college basketball season was an unfortunate one that had some teams with poor records and injuries. Other teams on this list were over-hyped in the preseason and didn't come close to living up to expectations.
Today, I present to you the "Top 10 Most Disappointing College Basketball Teams of the 2019-2020 Season." The list will be my opinion in order from the least disappointing team at #10 to the most disappointing team at #1.
At number 10, we have a two-way tie between the Evansville Purple Aces and Nebraska Cornhuskers.
10 A. Evansville Purple Aces (2019-20 Record: 9-23 Overall & 0-18 Missouri Valley Conference)
The 2019-20 college basketball season consisted of plenty of upsets. First, it was Evansville who won seven days into the college basketball season versus #1 Kentucky 67-64 at Rupp Arena. Two weeks later, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks knocked off the #1 Duke Blue Devils 85-83 on a game-winning layup in overtime at Cameron Indoor Arena. Yet, this past season turned out to be a complete 180 for both of these mid-major programs. Stephen F. Austin ended the season with a record of 28-3, while Evansville went in the opposite direction going 9-23 and winless in conference play. After starting the season with a 3-0 record and knocking off Kentucky in their second game of the season, many thought that Evansville could be a bracket buster and cinderella team come March. That was until the losses started to pileup. Evansville found itself six games into the season with a record of 3-3 with three straight losses to SMU, an 85-68 blowout loss to East Carolina, and a loss to George Washington. The Purple Aces then got back on the right track by winning five straight games to go 8-3. On December 21, 2019, Evansville won their final game of the season 78-76 in overtime versus Murray State. What would soon follow their last win would be a devastating end of the season with 19 straight losses. Five days later on December 26, news broke that head coach Walter McCarty would be put on administrative leave by the university after reports of alleged sexual misconduct and violating Evansville's Title IX policy, according to ESPN. McCarty would later be fired from the program on January 21. Evansville would go through two separate head coaches for the remainder of the season.
10 B. Nebraska Cornhuskers (2019-20 Record: 7-25 Overall & 2-18 Big Ten)
With a new head coach and a massive roster rebuild from the previous season, a down year for the Cornhuskers was expected. Except, I didn't think they would be this terrible... A power conference program is supposed to win most (if not all) the games they play in the non-conference slate versus mid-major teams. However this past season, Nebraska managed to lose against four mid-major programs. They lost three of those games on their home court. In their season opener, Nebraska lost by 19 points to UC Riverside. They also had losses to Southern Utah, George Mason, and North Dakota. Once they got into conference play, Nebraska ended up losing the last 17 games to close out the season. An unfortunate season in which their #2 and #3 leading scorers on the team Dachon Burke and Cam Mack ended up receiving suspensions from the team. Mack was suspended twice during the season. The first being a violation of team rules. Mack's second suspension was for leaving the scene of a two-car accident and negligent driving. This past season was so awful for Nebraska that they ended up adding two players from their football team on their roster for the Big Ten Tournament, because the team was shorthanded...Nebraska's season in a nutshell could be summed up during the final game of the season, when head coach Fred Hoiberg had to be taken to the hospital due to illness (it happened during the final four minutes of their first round Big Ten Tournament game). For two hours after the game, Nebraska's team and staff were held in the locker room out of concern over possible coronavirus exposure. The news came back later that Hoiberg was diagnosed with Influenza A (the common cold).
9. Georgetown Hoyas (2019-20 Record: 15-17 & 5-13 Big East)
Heading into this past season, Georgetown was supposed to be a team on the bubble, but they ended up being nowhere near that. The Hoyas started the season well with a 10-3 record. That was until bad luck with injuries started to take its toll. Leading scorer, Mac McClung, was on the verge to a breakout sophomore season, averaging 15.7 PPG before a foot injury derailed his season in late-January. Second leading scorer and leading rebounder, 7 foot center Omer Yurtseven, ended up missing games down the stretch with an ankle injury. 2019 Big East Freshman of the Year and third leading scorer, James Akinjo, played seven games before announcing that he would enter the transfer portal. Injuries and roster losses dragged down Georgetown's season as they lost the last seven games in conference play.
8. Iowa State Cyclones (2019-20 Record: 12-20 & 5-13 Big 12)
The Cyclones went from winning the Big 12 Tournament in 2019 to second to last in the conference in 2020. Heading into this past season, Iowa State was not expected to be a front runner in the Big 12, but I didn't think they would lose 20 games. In the 2019 off-season, the Cyclones lost Marial Shayok and Talen Horton-Tucker to the NBA. Iowa State ended up losing the last six of seven games to close out the season. Projected first round NBA draft pick, Tyrese Haliburton (15.2 PPG), fractured his wrist in early-February and had to miss the remainder of the season. The worst loss of the season was on New Year's Eve at home versus the Florida A&M Rattlers 70-68 (Florida A&M had a 1-9 record heading into the match up).
7. New Mexico Lobos (2019-20 Record: 19-14 & 7-11 Mountain West)
All was well during the first half of the season for New Mexico. They started out with a 15-3 record with a chance to compete at the top of the Mountain West Conference with San Diego State and Utah State. New Mexico's best win was against Wisconsin 59-50 (the Badgers ended up winning the Big Ten Conference). Hours after New Mexico's win against Air Force on January 11 (which New Mexico had a record of 15-3), senior Carlton Bragg Jr., who was averaging a double-double at the time (12.6 PPG & 10.3 REB), was removed from the team after being arrested for driving while intoxicated and possession of under one ounce of marijuana. Bragg's arrest came nine days after he was reinstated to the team following a three-game suspension where university officials investigated sexual misconduct allegations against him by another student. With Bragg in the lineup, the Lobos had a record of 13-2. Without him, they suffered going 6-12 and lacking size on the court without their 6' 10" senior center.
6. Georgia Bulldogs (2019-20 Record: 16-16 & 5-13 SEC)
Heading into the season, the Bulldogs brought in the #5 recruiting class according to the ESPN 2019 Recruiting Class Rankings. Georgia’s recruitment class was headlined by five-star recruit, Anthony Edwards, who happens to be a potential #1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. The Bulldogs also had three four-star recruits as freshman on the roster, but they never turned out to have much of an impact on the season. Georgia’s season showed promise early with a 10-3 start (their 10th win was recorded on the road versus #9 Memphis). Once the tougher competition came during conference play, the Bulldogs fell apart. Ultimately, Edwards, who averaged 19.1 PPG, carried Georgia with his scoring production throughout the season. However, the Bulldogs defense got ripped apart constantly as they ranked 312th in college basketball nationally by allowing over an average of 75 points per game.
5. Davidson Wildcats (2019-20 Record: 16-14 & 10-8 A-10)
Projected as a front runner along with VCU to win the Atlantic 10 entering the season, the Wildcats were supposed to be at the top of the conference. They retained their top four scorers from the season before. Guards Kellan Grady and John Axel Gudmundsson were coming off a spectacular season in 2018-19. Grady averaged 17.3 PPG, while Axel Gudmundsson averaged 16.9 PPG. However, the Davidson team that finished 24-10 in the year prior, only managed to go 16-14 this past season. The team struggled to find any sort of consistency, as they went 11-1 at home but only 4-9 on the road. Some of Davidson’s wins alone would make you think that this team should be much better than their record indicated. During the month of February, Davidson won by 35 against UMass, won by 30 against Fordham, won by 29 at St. Bonaventure, and won by 25 against La Salle.
4. Memphis Tigers (2019-20 Record: 21-10 & 10-8 American)
The Tigers were supposed to have a solid season with Top 15 consistency in the rankings. They entered the season with the #1 freshman class and the top recruit in 7 foot center James Wiseman. Minutes before Memphis’ second game of the season versus Illinois-Chicago (UIC), the NCAA ruled Wiseman ineligible due to head coach Penny Hardaway being a booster to provide $11,500 in moving expenses to Wiseman’s family before Hardaway was a coach at Memphis. Even with the ruling by the NCAA, Wiseman played that night against UIC and in the next game against Oregon. Wiseman would only play three games during the season and would receive a 12-game suspension for violations of his mother accepting $11,500 from head coach Penny Hardaway, and playing in three games while ineligible. In December 2019, Wiseman announced that he would be leaving Memphis to prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft. The season was a mess of problems for Memphis, but they didn’t have a terrible season. They had started out with a 14-3 record and were looking like a tournament team in the field until a 40-point loss at Tulsa. They suffered bad losses down the stretch of the season against SMU, South Florida, and UConn. If the NCAA Tournament happened in 2020, Memphis would have needed to win their conference tournament to get into the bracket. A team with so much potential coming into the season, found itself on the bubble when the season was called off.
3. VCU Rams (2019-20 Record: 18-13 & 8-10 A-10)
For a team that returned numerous players from the year prior, the Rams were supposed to be at the very top of the Atlantic 10. They entered the 2019 AP Preseason Poll ranked at #25. VCU started off the season solid with a 16-5 record. At the top half of the conference towards the end of January, VCU’s final 35 days of basketball went down as a major disappointment. VCU went only 2-8 during their final ten games of the season. At the end of February, second leading scorer and senior De’Riante Jenkins announced that he would be stepping down from the program due to a personal health matter. It was a big loss and shock for the Rams during the final weeks of the season.
2. Washington Huskies (2019-20 Record: 15-17 & 5-13 Pac-12)
Heading into this past season, the Huskies brought in the #6 recruiting class according to ESPN. The recruits were led by Top 10 incoming freshman Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels. Washington had lost two players to the NBA in the 2019 off season (2019 Defensive Player of the Year in Matisse Thybulle and leading scorer Jaylen Nowell). The Huskies also lost three additional seniors in the 2019 off season to bring the total to five players that had to be replaced. With the incoming freshman talent of Stewart and McDaniels, it seemed possible that head coach Mike Hopkins would have his third straight season of 20+ wins at Washington. Instead, he ended up with his first season with a losing record as a head coach. All was well during the start of the season with a victory against ranked Baylor (which was looking for an NCAA Tournament #1 Seed by the season’s end). Washington had started the season at 10-2 with losses to Tennessee and Gonzaga. Once Pac-12 play began, the Huskies struggled to win games. They lost nine straight games during the midway point of conference play. Washington, a team with so much preseason hype with their young talent, got swept by in-state rival Washington State twice and finished dead last in the conference.
1. North Carolina Tar Heels (2019-20 Record: 14-19 & 6-14 ACC)
No team had it rougher than the Tar Heels this past season. After nine straight NCAA Tournament appearances, UNC had its first losing season since 2001-02. Nothing went right for North Carolina. The Tar Heels were supposed to be solid with their five-star recruit in point guard Cole Anthony. Anthony ended up missing 11 games with a knee injury. UNC was ranked at #9 to start the season in the preseason poll. They started out well with a 6-1 record. Then, UNC suffered a 25-pont loss at home against Ohio State, which became the start of a season to forget for Tar Heels fans. What’s even more heartbreaking is that UNC lost six games by three points or less (three of those losses came in overtime). After losing their first game in 2020 versus Georgia Tech, head coach Roy Williams called his team, "the least gifted team I've ever coached in the time that I've been back here." A week later on January 11, North Carolina fell at home to Clemson (marking Clemson’s first win in Chapel Hill in its 60th try). Just how frustrating was this season for UNC; the Tar Heels went on separate losing streaks of four straight losses, five straight losses, and then seven straight losses.
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