In the best of times, Bracketology for future seasons is educated guessing at its finest. And these are anything but the best of times.
With an understanding that all of us in college basketball are blessed to work in life’s toy department, we press on toward a 2020-21 season with a hopeful eye and a wistful heart. The 2019-20 tourney-less campaign left us worse than in the lurch. It left us with a suddenness that was unprecedented and, Lord willing, unrepeatable.
Again, with the knowledge that we only cover games, our condolences go out to Obi Toppin and Myles Powell, Markus Howard and Payton Pritchard, and Cassius Winston and Lamar Stevens. Those are some of the big names. There are so many others whose NCAA dreams were dashed.
Players such as Freddie Gillespie of Baylor, Anthony Cowan of Maryland, Kamar Baldwin of Butler, Jordan Ford of Saint Mary’s, Yoeli Childs of BYU and so many others. Great players on very good teams whose best chance to make a mark in their sport happened to coincide with the lost March of 2020.
And then there are programs whose “One Shining Moment” flickered with no flash. Duke, Kentucky and Kansas will be top seeds again soon. Maybe not Dayton or San Diego State — or emerging teams such as Penn State and Rutgers; their moments aren’t likely gone forever, but we can’t know for sure.
We also can’t know if similar stories exist in the 2021 bracket. Stories, yes, but magic? That can only come with time and healing, on the court and off. For now, we hope this bracket isn’t my most accurate. We want the interlopers, the unexpected, the new names. Who is the next Obi Toppin? Which school can rise like San Diego State?
Our methodology for future brackets is based on an algorithm of returning minutes per team, the established level of production of those minutes and guesstimates of how (and how well) a team’s non-returning minutes will be replaced. The NBA draft process and NCAA transfer portal present moving targets for everyone, so this bracket might be obsolete for at least some teams in a day, a week or a month. We’ll update to reflect that movement as frequently as possible.
In the meantime, know that a typical April bracket will correctly forecast about half of the top seeds for the following season. It will identify about two-thirds of the eventual at-large pool. And its misses will be glaring.
A year ago at this time, we were right on the money with the likes of Kansas and Gonzaga, Louisville and Baylor. Like everyone, we completely missed the boat on North Carolina. Dayton was a bubble team, and San Diego State wasn’t even on the board.
So if you don’t like where we have your team — or if it didn’t make the cut — don’t fret. There will be movement (and plenty of it!). Selection Sunday 2021 is still 11 months away … we hope.