March Madness 2020: What Could Have Been

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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.

ConferenceSchoolAppearanceHow They Qualified
America EastVermont8thRegular Season Champion
American AthleticCincinnati34thRegular Season Champion
Atlantic-10Dayton19thRegular Season Champion
ACCFlorida State18thRegular Season Champion
Atlantic SunLiberty5thWon Conference Tournament
Big 12Kansas49thRegular Season Champion
Big EastCreighton21stRegular Season Champion
Big SkyEastern Washington3rdRegular Season Champion
Big SouthWinthrop11thWon Conference Tournament
Big TenWisconsin25thRegular Season Champion
Big WestUC-Irvine3rdRegular Season Champion
ColonialHofstra5thWon Conference Tournament
C-USANorth Texas4thRegular Season Champion
HorizonNorthern Kentucky3rdWon Conference Tournament
IvyYale6thRegular Season Champion
MAACSiena7thRegular Season Champion
MACAkron5thRegular Season Champion
MEACNC Central5thRegular Season Champion
Missouri ValleyBradley10thWon Conference Tournament
Mountain WestUtah State22ndWon Conference Tournament
NECRobert Morris9thWon Conference Tournament
Ohio ValleyBelmont9thWon Conference Tournament
Pac-12Oregon17thRegular Season Champion
PatriotBoston U8thWon Conference Tournament
SECKentucky60thRegular Season Champion
SouthernETSU11thWon Conference Tournament
SouthlandStephen F. Austin6thRegular Season Champion
SWACPrairie View A&M3rdRegular Season Champion
SummitNorth Dakota State5thWon Conference Tournament
Sun BeltUA-Little Rock6thRegular Season Champion
WACNew Mexico State26thRegular Season Champion
West CoastGonzaga23rdWon Conference Tournament

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.

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