In a stunning turn of events, which seemed inevitable as the days went on, March Madness will be played without fans this year. It was announced late Wednesday afternoon that “only essential staff and limited family” will be allowed to attend tournament games. Alas, March Madness must go on and while this is certainly a blow, we cannot let it derail our excitement for what promises to be one of the craziest tournaments in years. Selection Sunday can’t come soon enough and it is a wonderful thought that in a short four days we are going to have a bracket. Until 4 p.m. Sunday, the seeding is unofficial, but barring a lot of conference tournament collapses, we have a general idea (within a seed or two) who will be where. The 5-16 seeds are always going to be all over the place, but I have a general idea for who the 1-4 seeds will be, as well as how each region will play out.
Top Seeds: Kansas, Florida State, Seton Hall, Louisville
Kansas earns the No. 1 overall seed, but doesn’t get an easy path to Georgia having to go through two ACC foes and possible Big East champs in Myles Powell and Seton Hall. Louisville looked really good all year, being No. 1 for a couple weeks, but have really faltered in the latter part of the season. They have no momentum going into March and I would not be shocked if they got bounced early despite having National Player of the Year contender Jordan Nwora. Myles Powell is a scary threat for any team in the country even Kansas. A Devon Dotson-Powell point guard matchup at any point would create fireworks. Kansas is just too good in just about every category for any of these three teams, but there are two teams I could see giving Kansas fits if they are put in this region. Iowa and BYU both have big men who can bump down low with Azubuike as well as shooters around the perimeter to stretch them out. Luka Garza would make Azubuike guard him at the three point line, which I haven’t seen him successfully able to adapt to. That being said, Kansas will show that they deserve the No. 1 seed and advance to the Final Four.
Unanimous No. ☝️ ⬎ pic.twitter.com/RCiJwyVumY
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) March 9, 2020
Top Seeds: Dayton, Duke, Creighton, Oregon
The makeup of this region creates for four of the best offensive teams in the country. Dayton and Oregon have seemingly an unstoppable catalyst in Obi Toppin and Payton Pritchard respectively. Duke and Creighton on the other hand have extremely efficient team offenses that both rank in the top 10 in the country per KenPom (so do Oregon and Dayton by the way). Last year Oregon snuck into the tournament as a No. 12 seed and went on somewhat of a Cinderella run before losing to eventual champion, Virginia. Oregon lost some frontcourt depth from that team with Kenny Wooten and Louis King graduating. The Ducks replaced that with 5 star freshman big man C.J. Walker and shooters around Pritchard. Another team that (of course) successfully reloaded was Duke. They have had blips (S.F. Austin and N.C. State) but for the most part have been extremely consistent. Dayton has not been challenged due to being in a weak A-10, but has responded to challenges (Kansas in Hawaii) very well. Creighton won the Big East regular season on the very last day beating Seton Hall in convincing fashion, just after getting destroyed by lowly St. Johns. The story for the Blue Jays is consistency, however at their peak they are capable of shooting their way past anybody in the country. My pick in this region is based on coaching and point guard play. You’re thinking Duke right now. Nope. Dana Altman’s Oregon Ducks are going to the final four after a years of consistent performances in March.
Another day, another honor‼️
— Dayton Basketball (@DaytonMBB) March 11, 2020
Top Seeds: Gonzaga, Michigan State, Kentucky, Villanova
Speaking of coaches, this region is littered with Hall of Famers. Mark Few, Tom Izzo, John Calipari and Jay Wright always have their teams ready for March and this year is no different. Each of these have had points in the year where they don’t look like contenders, but come March they are ready. There are a lot of potentially lower seeded teams that can pose problems to each of these. Butler and Colorado are two that come to mind just because they are both physically imposing. Colorado’s Tyler Bey could dominate any big man these four teams throw at him. Kentucky, Gonzaga and Villanova are usually stacked with five stars, but this year all of them seem a bit down. They obviously are in contention just because they aren’t bereft of talent in the slightest on the sideline or the court, but it doesn’t feel like the same. Michigan State never relies on the talent the others do and this year’s team is a typical Tom Izzo team led of course by Senior All American point guard Cassius Winston. Michigan State will be making back-to-back Final Four appearances.
Cassius Winston’s 4-year resume at Michigan State:
•Big Ten Champ x3
•Big Ten Tourney Champ
•Big Ten POY
•Big Ten Tourney MVP
•Big Ten All-1st Team x2
•1st Team All-American
•Big Ten’s career assist leader
•Graduated in 3 years
— Adam Ruff (@AdamRuffPhoto) March 9, 2020
Top Seeds: San Diego State, Baylor, Maryland, Auburn
In what seems to be the weakest region I see holes in all four of these teams. Baylor and San Diego State went on crazy runs throughout the season as their records indicate. Auburn is electric as always, however they are not the Bryce Brown/Jared Harper led team of last year. Anthony Cowen Junior, Eric Ayala and Jalen Smith are a fearsome trident that can put up a whole lot of points in a hurry, coming back from double digits multiple times. Texas and Illinois are two teams that if put, in this region have every chance to make it to Atlanta. They can pose, and have posed threats to these teams. Ayo Dosunmu is a dynamic point guard that has the potential to come alive in March. The Fighting Illini have navigated their way through a very difficult Big Ten and have gone through enough to prove that they can roll with anything thrown at them. Illinois will be this year’s Final Four Cinderella team.
Tamir March is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.