Silverberg: Final pick for the 2020 NCAA Tournament bracket

By Joel Silverberg / @JoelSilverberg

The 2020 NCAA Tournament has been cancelled. It’s unfortunate for players, coaches, fans, everyone. The issue our world is facing is bigger than sports. Nobody should argue otherwise. However, I thought I would take this down time to have some fun and take a stab at projecting what the bracket would’ve looked like on Selection Sunday.

NOTE: I broke down my picks for the bracket on Sunday on the Behind the Arc Podcast. You can listen to the episode here.

Before we get to the bracket, some things to keep in mind:

  • I am NOT a bracketologist.
  • Automatic bids were awarded to conference tournament champions. Leagues that did not start or complete their conference tournament had their automatic bid awarded to the regular season champion.
  • Results from conference tournaments that did not finish were dismissed (ex. Xavier’s first round Big East Tournament loss to DePaul did not affect it in the bracket).
  • Regions are set up as Midwest vs. East and South vs. West, based on the order of my No. 1 seeds.

And now, the bracket.

A projection of the 2020 men’s basketball tournament bracket.

 

Kansas is the top overall seed, followed by Gonzaga, Baylor and Dayton to fill out the top four. San Diego State blew its chance at a No. 1 seed by losing to Utah State in the Mountain West tournament final. No other team really had a ceiling to be the top seed in a region.

A quick look at the bubble:

Last Four Byes: Marquette; Stanford; Wichita State; UCLA

Last Four In: Providence; Indiana; USC; NC State

First Four Out: Xavier; Richmond; Texas Tech; Mississippi State

Next Four Out: Purdue; Arkansas; Rhode Island; Northern Iowa

For what it’s worth, Cincinnati shouldn’t be in the tournament, but a three-way tie at the top of the American gave the Bearcats the top seed in the conference tournament, thus awarding them the league’s automatic bid. I don’t like it, but it’s only fair given the circumstances.

NC State flirted with disaster by losing to North Carolina late in the regular season, but the Wolfpack went 4-6 in Quadrant 1 games, which is more impressive to me than going 3-11 like Xavier or Texas Tech. To me, getting more Quadrant 1 wins in fewer opportunities says more than a team that played a tougher schedule, but failed to pick up more wins.

Wichita State went just 2-6 in Quadrant 1, but a solid 9-3 in Quadrant 2. That’s 11-9 in the top two quadrants combined. The Red Raiders went 5-3 in Quadrant 2. That’s 8-14 in the top two tiers. A four-game losing streak to end the regular season also didn’t help Chris Beard’s team.

As for Richmond and Mississippi State, I thought both of those teams could’ve played their way into the field though their respective conference tournaments, but never got the chance to do so. Tough luck.

UCLA snuck in as the lowest-seeded at-large team, being a 12-seed in the West Region. Non-conference play wasn’t kind to the Bruins, but grabbing six Quadrant 1 wins made up for it. Indiana’s NET wasn’t great (56), but had four Quadrant 1 wins and avoided any bad losses. Stanford won four of its last six to close out the year and had a strong NET ranking (33).

Thoughts, gripes or questions? Feel free to reach out to me @JoelSilverberg with how you think this would’ve played out or what you would’ve done differently.

Stay safe, everybody.

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