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Andy Wittry | | November 24, 2020

5 men's college basketball stories from 2019-20 you may have forgotten

Andy Katz's 2021 March Madness sleepers

The 2020-21 men's basketball season tips off Nov. 25 so it's worth taking a trip down memory lane to remember all of the impressive team and individual performances from last season, whether it was in a single game or a level of sustained success for the whole season.

Nick King | USA TODAY Sports Images Michigan State Spartans.

Michigan State was preseason No. 1 for the first time ever

It may be hard to believe given the success that Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had in his first 24 years as the head coach of the Spartans, but the school had never been ranked No. 1 in the preseason before the 2019-20 season. Led by senior point guard Cassius Winston and the versatile, veteran big man Xavier Tillman, the Spartans had one of the best inside-out, 1-2 punches in the country and Michigan State earned a share of the Big Ten's regular-season title.

RANKINGS: Here's our complete AP top 25, instant reaction, analysis | Full AP top 25 rankings

Kevin Jairaj | USA TODAY Sports Images Kansas's Udoka Azubuike.

But it was Kansas that finished the year at No. 1

When the season finished, the Jayhawks were ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25, as well as in KPI, Strength of Record, ESPN's BPI, and Sagarin rankings. Among the metrics used on the official NCAA team sheets, the only metric in which Kansas wasn't No. 1 was the NET rankings, which had the Jayhawks ranked No. 2.

Kansas ended last season with an impressive 27-3 record, including 12 Quadrant 1 wins — the best kind possible, in the eyes of the selection committee.

The Jayhawks put two players on the consensus All-America Second Team in point guard Devon Dotson and center Udoka Azubuike, while guard Marcus Garrett was named the National Defensive Player of the Year.

The Jayhawks could've earned a No. 1 seed, if not the No. 1 overall seed.

Raymond Carlin III | USA TODAY Sports Images Baylor's Jared Butler.

However, Baylor was often the biggest story in the Big 12

Kansas went 17-1 in Big 12 play and lost just three times all season, but Baylor spent six consecutive weeks ranked higher than Kansas in the heart of the season, including a five-week stretch at No. 1 in the AP poll. After the Bears lost to Washington in their second game of the season, they won 23 games in a row, before falling at home to Kansas by three points.

Baylor sputtered a bit down the stretch, losing three of its last five games, although each was a one-possession game, and the Bears, too, could have contended for a No. 1 seed.

Guard Jared Butler was one of the season's breakout performers and he earned Third Team All-America honors from most major outlets.

Orlando Ramirez | USA TODAY Sports Images San Diego State was the last undefeated team in the country last season.

Dayton, San Diego State were surprising contenders

The 2019-20 Dayton Flyers were arguably the best team in school history and they might be the best team that Dayton will have, ever. The Flyers went 29-2, only losing in overtime to Kansas and Colorado on neutral floors.

After starting the season unranked (and staying unranked until December), Dayton made a slow but steady climb in the AP poll until it reached No. 3 in the country, which is where it finished the season. The Flyers were an elite 2-point shooting team as they made a national-best 62.3 percent of their shots inside the arc, while shooting 37.1 percent from 3-point range and averaging 17.6 assists per game, which ranked third nationally. They were unselfish, efficient and played an objectively fun brand of offense.

On the other side of the country, San Diego State also finished the season with just two losses. Just like the 2011 season, which was the Aztecs' previous best season, San Diego State peaked at No. 4 in the AP poll and finished ranked No. 6.

They were the nation's last unbeaten team as they started 26-0 before falling 66-63 against UNLV in February. Led by point guard Malachi Flynn, who transferred from Washington State, San Diego State was nearly perfect on the season, thanks to a group that shot 38 percent from 3-point range, while holding its opponents to 29.7-percent shooting from deep.

David Kohl | USA TODAY Sports Images Dayton's Obi Toppin was named National Player of the Year.

Dayton's Obi Toppin named National Player of the Year

Dayton redshirt sophomore Obi Toppin was the engine that fueled the 29-2 Flyers. He averaged 20 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steal per game as he improved in almost every statistical category from the previous season. He made a lethal 69.8 percent of his 2-point attempts and 39 percent of his shots from deep, making him both the team's primary option on offense and an incredibly efficient scorer.

He went for at least 20 points in each of Dayton's first five games and he scored a career-high 31 points against North Florida, with eight double-doubles on the season.

In addition to being named the National College Player of the Year, he was a consensus First Team All-American and the A-10 Player of the Year.

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