It’s Selection Sunday, and at this moment right now college basketball fans across the world wish they had Greg Gumbel stretching out the reveal of who’s in, who’s out, and who’s going where in the 2020 NCAA Tournament.
But we won’t have that this year due to Covid-19, and that makes you wonder about what might have been.
ESPN Bracketologist and Archie Miller’s favorite Sesame Street character Joe Lunardi did release his version of the bracket as it stood before play was halted.
So we decided to take that bracket and had the oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook set what the lines would have been for the opening round of the 2020 NCAA Tournament.
Lunardi later went back and actually sent a corrected version, so we’ll use that here.
Correcting a couple of seed typos and an impermissible regular-season rematch. pic.twitter.com/ZlqV5cAigV— Joe Lunardi (@ESPNLunardi) March 13, 2020
Note he’s actually got five 4-13 games and three 5-12 games, but the ESPN version of his page has Auburn as a No. 5 instead of a No. 4, so we’ll move them below.
Here are what the lines would have been courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook:
(4) Louisville -10 (13) Vermont
UL gets a start against the America East champs, who can defend at a P5 level (44.8% defensive eFG). Not an easy out.
(6) BYU -2 1/2 (11) Indiana
See, Archie Miller: you ended up making it anyway. Good for you. But BYU led the nation in three-point percentage at 41.9%. Good luck getting past that the way you defend the long-ball (121st in America).
(2) Creighton -14 (15) Little Rock
UALR gets to the free throw line as well as anyone, but Creighton really doesn’t foul. The Blue Jays are also 3rd in adjusted offensive efficiency.
(5) Michigan -7 1/2 (12) Yale
Tough draw for the Wolverines, as the Bulldogs lost at Penn State by two and UNC by three on the road. They lost to Harvard twice however, and the Ivy tournament was to be on Harvard’s campus. We would have been more likely to see the Crimson here instead.
(7) West Virginia -3 1/2 (10) Utah State
Laying points to Sam Merrill is never a good idea. But the Mountaineers are the third-best team by defensive efficiency, so this would be a really fun matchup.
(3) Seton Hall -12 (14) Eastern Washington
The Hall were trending the wrong direction, losing their last two to end the regular season, but EWU didn’t have a Q1 win all season
(7) Providence -2 1/2 (10) Arizona State
Maybe the hottest team in college basketball in the Friars, who had won six in a row to play themselves into the field, against an ASU that was limping into the tournament losing three of their last four. For the momentum would have been with PC here.
(8) LSU -1 1/2 (9) Oklahoma
LSU was one of the most efficient offenses (4th), but also quite forgiving on defense (179th). Oklahoma was more balanced, and play pretty well down the stretch.
(2) Florida State -15 1/2 (15) Northern Kentucky
FSU were the outright ACC champs, while the Norse picked up the Horizon League tournament title.
(3) Villanova -10 (14) Hofstra
Would have been one of the most interesting matchups of Round 1, as Jay Wright would have faced the team he took to back-to-back tournaments as head coach in 2000 and 2001. The Pride haven’t been to the Big Dance since.
(2) Kentucky -11 1/2 (15) North Dakota State
The Wildcats had won nine of their last ten in SEC play, while NDSU got a pretty sweet draw filled with upsets on their way to the Summit League title.
(1) Gonzaga -28 or -30 1/2 (16) Prairie View or NCCU
The Zags would have been the biggest favorite in the first round no matter their opponent.
(5) Ohio State -10 (12) Stephen F. Austin
OSU finished three games back in the Big Ten, and still managed a five seed due to the depth of that league. The Lumberjacks were on pace to be one of the only 30-win teams in college basketball, finishing at 28-3, including that stunner win that broke Duke’s non-conference home win streak at 150 games.
(6) Penn State -2/-4 (11) N.C. State/UCLA
The Nittany Lions had lost five of six, and that’s why this is so close despite the seeding difference. NC State vs. UCLA would have made for one of the best Dayton games in years.
(7) Illinois -3 (10) USC
The Illini’s Ayo Dosunmu was one of the unheralded players in college basketball, and the backcourt battle with him and Jonah Mathews of USC would have been one of the best of the opening round.
(4) Oregon -10 (13) New Mexico State
NMSU was 25-6 and hadn’t lost since December 14th, but the only Q1 win came against Mississippi State in a Christmas tournament.
(4) Maryland -11 (13) Akron
The Zips were atop the pretty mediocre MAC this year, while Maryland captured 1⁄3 of the Big Ten title along with Michigan State and Wisconsin.
(1) Dayton -21 1/2/-22 1/2 (16) Boston U./Robert Morris
One of the best non-Gonzaga mid-major teams of the decade at 29-2 and perfect in the A-10, the Flyers and Obi Toppin not getting to take their shot at glory is maybe the biggest loss in terms of storyline for this tournament.
(8) Houston -2 1/2 (9) Marquette
Houston was extremely up-and-down all year, and would have had to deal with the Big East’s all-time leading scorer in Markus Howard, who potentially could come back in 2021 if the NCAA grants an additional year of eligibility.
(4) Wisconsin -11 (13) North Texas
The Badgers had won eight in a row in the brutal Big Ten, while North Texas was projected to win Conference USA with their 14-4 record in the league.
(6) Iowa -3 (11) East Tennessee State
Iowa’s Luka Garza was denied a chance to make his national player of the year case on the biggest stage, while ETSU was terrific all year at 30-4 and might have made the NCAA’s anyway even if they didn’t win the SoCon tournament.
(3) Michigan State -15 1/2 (14) Bradley
Michigan State was doing that thing they do again, winning five in a row to claim a share of the Big Ten regular season title.
(1) Baylor -18 1/2 (16) Winthrop
For sure the No. 1 seed that would have been picked to be upset, Baylor had won 23 in a row before dropping three of their last five. The Winthrop Eagles easily rolled through the Big South tournament after Radford dropped their semifinal at home.
(5) Auburn -7 (12) Liberty
Liberty won the A-Sun conference at 30-4 to get back to the NCAA’s, and would have faced an Auburn team that was 25-6 and outstanding at getting to the free throw line.
(5) Butler -4/-3 1/2 (12) Texas/Richmond
The fact Texas is even here is a miracle considering where they were entering February. But winning five of their last six likely saved their NCAA tournament and Shaka Smart’s job. Meanwhile Richmond would have possibly had one more shot at Dayton in the A-10 Tournament.
(6) Virginia -2 (11) Cincinnati
The defending champs made an outstanding run to get a No. 6 seed, closing out the ACC schedule with eight straight wins. Meanwhile if Cinci had lost their scheduled opening round game AAC tournament game against ECU or Central Florida, they aren’t here anywhere.
(1) Kansas -23 1/2 (16) Siena
Kansas would have been the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament if they had won the Big 12 tournament and beaten Baylor for a second time. Siena would have likely been road kill despite having won 10 straight MAAC games.
(7) Arizona -1 (10) Texas Tech
Two of the coldest teams in the tournament entering the field. No one was falling apart faster than Arizona, who hadn’t beat a team not from the state of Washington since February 20th. Which is why they’d just be giving a single point to a Red Raiders team that had lost four in a row to finish Big XII play.
(3) Duke -12 (14) Belmont
Duke would have needed to get to the ACC final to maintain this seed line most likely, while Belmont had won 12 in a row to finish out Ohio Valley Conference play, and were top 10 in the nation in eFG%.
(8) Colorado +3 (9) Florida
The Gators would have not only made the Big Dance in this scenario, they would have been a favorite despite a 19-12 record in the SEC and losing three of their last five. The health of Kerry Blackshear would have been a major factor in this line however.
(8) Saint Mary’s +1 (9) Rutgers
Rutgers getting denied their first NCAA tournament since America’s bicentennial in 1976 is painful for the Scarlet Knights faithful. Saint Mary’s lost three times to Gonzaga, but still finished with a 26-8 record.
(2) San Diego State -13 1/2 (15) UC Irvine
SDSU played themselves off the No. 1 line and an undefeated season with late losses to UNLV and Utah State, but should have been able to handle the Big West champs in the Anteaters, who were 13-3 in league play.
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