By ANDY WITTRY
The 2019-20 men’s college basketball season has been far from predictable and the Madness hasn’t even officially begun. I dusted off our crystal ball to look into the future and see what might happen over the course of the next month.
Here are 68 predictions for the 2020 NCAA tournament, made in February. Remember, these are mine and mine alone. The decisions on the at-large bids who make the field of 68 are up to the selection committee.
1. One No. 1 seed will lose in the first weekend and just one No. 1 seed will make the Final Four.
2. Vernon Carey Jr. and Duke will make it just as far, if not further, in the NCAA tournament as Zion Williamson and the Blue Devils did last season
3. Carey will be the leading scorer in the 2020 NCAA tournament.
4. San Diego State will enter the NCAA tournament with an undefeated record
5. We’ll get an ACC vs. ACC matchup in the second weekend.
6. The Big Ten will send 11 teams to the NCAA tournament. Listed in the projected order of where they’ll fall in the overall seed list: Maryland, Penn State, Michigan State, Illinois, Rutgers, Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan and Indiana.
7. However, just three will make the Sweet 16 and only one will advance to the Elite Eight.
8. Penn State will win a game in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001 and it will make the Sweet 16, just like it did 19 years ago.
9. Only four schools from the ACC will make the tournament.
10. However, three of them will make the Sweet 16 and two will go to the Elite Eight.
11. The teams in the Elite Eight will hail from six different conferences.
12. A school will make the NCAA tournament for the first time ever.
13. We won’t get another mammoth 16-over-1 upset or a No. 15 seed upsetting a No. 2 seed but there will be (at least) one 13-over-4 upset.
14. Texas Tech will make the second weekend of the tournament.
15. After the streak of teams from the First Four winning at least one game in the Round of 64 ended last season, one team that plays in Dayton for the First Four will also win in the first round.
16. This season, Baylor will improve upon both the best seed it has ever earned in the Scott Drew era (a No. 3 seed) and it will at least tie its best NCAA tournament finish under Drew (advancing to the Elite Eight).
17. Two of the schools that make the Final Four will have the opportunity to be college basketball’s next first-time national champion.
18. The Atlantic 10 and West Coast Conference will both be three-bid leagues.
19. Only two of the schools that played in the Champions Classic (Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State) will advance to the Elite Eight.
20. Rutgers will make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991…but won’t win a game once it’s there. History isn’t on the Scarlet Knights’ side — here is the data on teams that return after a 10-year (or longer) drought.
21. One of the biggest storylines on Selection Sunday will be whether San Diego State or Gonzaga earns the No. 1 seed in the West region but it won’t matter in the end.
22. Reigning national champion Virginia will go from being the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed, to winning the national championship in 2019, to playing in Dayton in the First Four in 2020.
23. BYU will be the school with a first-year head coach that advances the furthest.
24. There will be one 12/13 matchup in the second round, guaranteeing at least one double-digit seed in the Sweet 16.
25. But there will be three double-digit seeds that win at least two games, after just one double-digit seed made the second weekend in the 2019 NCAA tournament.
26. At least four schools will earn their best seed in program history. That’s good news historically if a team earns a No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the first time.
27. This year’s national champion will have an AllAmerican, upperclassman point guard. After all, five of the last 10 national champions did.
28. This year’s national champion will also have a center who has attempted at least 15 3-pointers this season. The players who primarily played center for last season’s Final Four teams combined to take 215 3-pointers during the season.
29. There won’t be a single perfect bracket left through the first 20 games of the NCAA tournament. That’s through the first full day of games on Thursday and the first four games on Friday. Last year, Gregg Nigl’s bracket, incredibly, remained perfect through the first 48 games.
30. Marquette and Markus Howard, the nation’s leading scorer, will make the tournament but the Golden Eagles will exit in the first round, leaving one of the great scorers in recent college basketball history without an NCAA tournament win.
31. At least two Final Four teams will be from states that border a major body of water.
32. Kentucky will lose in the Elite Eight — the most common NCAA tournament finish for the Wildcats during the John Calipari era.
33. Villanova will lose in the Round of 32 for the fifth time in the last seven NCAA tournaments. Of course it won the title the other two times.
34. This is the year that Steve Forbes and East Tennessee State, which won 100 games in the last four seasons, breaks through and wins a game in the NCAA tournament.
35. There will be a game-winning buzzer beater by the end of the first weekend.
36. Houston will make the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row.
37. Preseason No. 1 Michigan State won’t make it past the Sweet 16.
38. A team will win a game in the tournament despite making two or fewer 3-pointers.
39. A team will lose a game in the tournament despite making 15 or more 3-pointers.
40. Arizona State will play in the First Four for the third year in a row.
41. BYU will play in the first-round game with the highest combined point total between two teams.
42. A team seeded No. 7 or worse will make the Final Four.
43. A No. 15 seed will be in a one-possession game with a No. 2 seed at halftime.
44. No. 11 and No. 12 seeds will have as many combined first-round wins as No. 5 and No. 6 seeds.
45. We’ll get a matchup in the first weekend in which a coach plays against a team he previously coached.
46. At least one school that makes the Final Four will be from the Pacific Time Zone.
47. Rhode Island will win exactly one game in the NCAA tournament.
48. The Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player will be a junior or senior.
49. At least one of this season’s national finalists will have debuted in the top five of the NET rankings in December (Ohio State, Kansas, San Diego State, Butler and Baylor). Last season, Virginia and Texas Tech debuted at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
50. Both teams that play in the 2020 national championship will have debuted in the top 13 of the NET rankings (also includes Gonzaga, Auburn, Louisville, Stanford, Dayton, Maryland, West Virginia and Duke).
51. The team that wins the NCAA tournament will have made at least 34 percent of its 3-pointers through Selection Sunday.
52. Dayton’s Obi Toppin will be the highest-drafted player in a future NBA draft among players who compete in the 2020 NCAA tournament.
53. At least six teams ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 poll will miss the NCAA tournament.
54. There will be fewer than 900 made 3-pointers in the 2020 NCAA tournament. Last season, Texas Tech’s Matt Mooney made a 3-pointer against Gonzaga in the Elite Eight, which was the 975th made 3 up to that point in the tournament, breaking the previous record.
55. Michigan will win as many games in the NCAA tournament as Michigan State.
56. Yale will pull off a first-round upset, just like it did in 2016.
57. Maryland will have the best NCAA tournament finish of the Mark Turgeon era.
58. Colorado, which advanced to the regional semifinal or better in each of its first eight NCAA tournament appearances but hasn’t made it that for in its last six tries, will return to the Sweet 16.
59. The first letter of the school that wins the 2020 NCAA tournament will be one of the first seven letters of the alphabet — A, B, C, D, E, F or G.
60. This year’s national champion will be a first-time winner and/or feature a coach who has never won a national title.
61. While nothing in sports can match the excitement of the start of Thursday’s first-round games in the NCAA tournament, we’ll look back on the Elite Eight as the best round of games in the tournament.
62. Seton Hall will win multiple NCAA tournament games for the first time since 2000.
63. Two of this year’s regionals — located in Indianapolis, L.A., Houston and New York — will feature teams from their respective states.
64. Auburn, which ranks among the national leaders in kenpom.com’s “luck” metric (measures the difference between expected and actual outcomes on a perpossession basis), will advance to the second weekend, but not the Final Four.
65. Ohio State will win exactly one game in the NCAA tournament.
66. The 2020 SWAC tournament will be one of the most wide-open races for the conference’s auto-bid but the conference champion will lose in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
67. Florida State will win an odd number of games in the NCAA tournament.
68. Despite the Final Four being played in Atlanta in the heart of SEC country, there won’t be any SEC teams competing in it.