March Madness 2020: What Could Have Been
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— Serial Social Distancer (@ChuckyT3) March 21, 2020
With the NCAA Tournament canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the college basketball season came to an unfortunate end before it truly began with March Madness. Traditional powerhouses like Kansas, Kentucky, and Duke were looking forward to adding to their already loaded trophy cases, while some mid-majors were looking to make noise in what could have been their first-ever appearance in the Big Dance.
In this article, we will take a look at what college basketball fans potentially missed out on due to the outbreak. It could be a school making their first appearance and earning their first win, a coach reaching a milestone win, or a player breaking a career scoring record.
Who Qualified for March Madness 2020?
32 teams had secured spots in the tournament by winning conference tournaments or finishing in first place in their conference’s regular-season standings. 12 of those schools managed to clinch a berth by winning their conference tournaments before the outbreak forced other conferences to cancel their tournaments. Had the tournament taken place, none of these qualifiers would have been making their March Madness debut, as each of them have made at least two appearances prior to this season.
Below is a table of those automatic qualifiers.
|Conference||School||Appearance||How They Qualified|
|America East||Vermont||8th||Regular Season Champion|
|American Athletic||Cincinnati||34th||Regular Season Champion|
|Atlantic-10||Dayton||19th||Regular Season Champion|
|ACC||Florida State||18th||Regular Season Champion|
|Atlantic Sun||Liberty||5th||Won Conference Tournament|
|Big 12||Kansas||49th||Regular Season Champion|
|Big East||Creighton||21st||Regular Season Champion|
|Big Sky||Eastern Washington||3rd||Regular Season Champion|
|Big South||Winthrop||11th||Won Conference Tournament|
|Big Ten||Wisconsin||25th||Regular Season Champion|
|Big West||UC-Irvine||3rd||Regular Season Champion|
|Colonial||Hofstra||5th||Won Conference Tournament|
|C-USA||North Texas||4th||Regular Season Champion|
|Horizon||Northern Kentucky||3rd||Won Conference Tournament|
|Ivy||Yale||6th||Regular Season Champion|
|MAAC||Siena||7th||Regular Season Champion|
|MAC||Akron||5th||Regular Season Champion|
|MEAC||NC Central||5th||Regular Season Champion|
|Missouri Valley||Bradley||10th||Won Conference Tournament|
|Mountain West||Utah State||22nd||Won Conference Tournament|
|NEC||Robert Morris||9th||Won Conference Tournament|
|Ohio Valley||Belmont||9th||Won Conference Tournament|
|Pac-12||Oregon||17th||Regular Season Champion|
|Patriot||Boston U||8th||Won Conference Tournament|
|SEC||Kentucky||60th||Regular Season Champion|
|Southern||ETSU||11th||Won Conference Tournament|
|Southland||Stephen F. Austin||6th||Regular Season Champion|
|SWAC||Prairie View A&M||3rd||Regular Season Champion|
|Summit||North Dakota State||5th||Won Conference Tournament|
|Sun Belt||UA-Little Rock||6th||Regular Season Champion|
|WAC||New Mexico State||26th||Regular Season Champion|
|West Coast||Gonzaga||23rd||Won Conference Tournament|
State Senator Joe Gruters introduced a resolution Friday declaring the Florida State men’s basketball team the 2020 National Champions. https://t.co/JBfWZ5QeHS
— Courtney Mims, WMBB (@MimsCourtney) March 14, 2020
How Many Active Coaches Have Won an NCAA Title?
If we look at the teams who were likely to make the NCAA Tournament, six active coaches who have won it all in March Madness. Those coaches are Mike Krzyzewski, John Calipari, Tony Bennett, Tom Izzo, Jay Wright, and Bill Self. Jim Boeheim is excluded for this exercise, as his Syracuse Orange were unlikely to make it in without winning the ACC Tournament.
Of this group, only Coach K and Wright have won multiple titles. If Wright managed to lead his Villanova Wildcats to the championship, he would join an exclusive group of coaches with at least three titles, with names such as Roy Williams, Bob Knight, Adolph Rupp, Krzyzewski, Jim Calhoun, and John Wooden. Coach K meanwhile could have become the first coach to win a championship in four different decades, while also passing the halfway point to Wooden’s ten titles.
Which Schools Could Have Won Their First Championship in 2020?
Based on bracketology projections prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the likes of Baylor, Dayton, and Gonzaga were projected as possible number one seeds, giving them a leg up in their quest for an NCAA title. Florida State, Creighton, Seton Hall, and San Diego State would likely have been next in line, although a deep run from the Aztecs would have been tougher to predict given the fact they do not play in a Power Five conference.
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College Basketball Coronavirus FAQ’s
Will the NCAA Declare a National Champion for March Madness 2020?
The NCAA has elected to not crown a champion despite not holding a tournament. With that said, some outside the world of college basketball have decided otherwise, with the Florida Senate dubbing Florida State as the national champion.
Will College Basketball Players Receive Another Year of Eligibility Due to COVID-19?
As of now, the NCAA has granted eligibility relief to all collegiate athletes who compete in spring sports, which does not include basketball. However, the NCAA is currently reviewing whether this benefit should extend to basketball and has not shut the door on it just yet. They are probably leaning towards not granting it due to the majority of teams having their season ended by not having tournament worthy seasons in the first place.