On the History of the National Championship: Why Kansas, Gonzaga, and Florida St are 2020 College Basketball Champs

Kansas, Gonzaga, and Florida State have all been selected as the 2020 National Champions, though it remains to be seen whether the Jayhawks or Bulldogs will actually claim their titles, or if Florida State will claim their more interesting national title selection.  But we’ll get to that later on.

First, let’s start by addressing a couple of myths about the national championship and a common (but irrelevant) statement that’s been floating around.

Myth 1: The college basketball national title can only be awarded by winning the NCAA Tournament.

It sure would have been great to have an NCAA Tournament this year, but this myth’s false.  The national title has been awarded for seasons dating all the way back to 1893, with the retroactive Premo and Porretta Poll selecting the Iowa Hawkeyes as national champions back before the first 5-on-5 inter-collegiate game was even played.  A more prominent national title selector, the Helms Athletic Foundation, selected national champions for seasons beginning in 1901.  Yale claims the 1901 national title and dozens of other colleges and universities claim Helms titles, as well.  Helms national title selections range from blue bloods like Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina to current non-D1 teams like Chicago and NYU.  Pre-1949 Helms titles are the only non-NCAA Tournament national championship selections that have been added to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Record Book (pg.216), but national championship selectors include such organizations as the American Legion (LSU in 1935) and the Veteran Athletes of Philadelphia (Butler in 1929).  Nothing can compare to the thrill of winning the biggest event in college sports, as the NCAA Tournament is the ultimate prize.  But a national champion has been selected every year in college basketball history, regardless of whether or not an NCAA Tournament was played.  In fact, many schools recognize titles (to varying degrees) in years where there was an NCAA Tournament, but the school was awarded the championship by another selector.  Examples include Long Island in 1939 (pg. 38), DePaul in 1945, and Kentucky in 1954.  So while most national championships have been awarded by winning the NCAA Tournament, every season in college basketball history has had at least one national champion selected, regardless of whether or not an NCAA Tournament was played that year.

Myth 2: You can’t have a national champion in a season with a pandemic.

“Oh yeah, you can definitely be national champions during a pandemic.” -Michigan Athletic Department

This one’s false, too, and history proves it.  The Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball team that claims the 1919 national championship went 13-0 on the season, the least amount of games played by a Helms basketball champion from 1914 until Helms stopped awarding national championships in 1982.  The shortened basketball season occurred during the worldwide 1918-19 H1N1 pandemic, which contributed to a shortened college football season, as well.  In fact, Michigan claims the 1918 college football national championship for a 5-0 season where they shared the National Championship Foundation (NCF) selection with Pittsburgh, who at 4-1 on the season, claims the title for that NCF share and the Helms selection.  History has shown that a pandemic-shortened season has still resulted not only in national championship selections, but in those selections all being claimed by the schools themselves.

Irrelevant Statement: The number one team could have lost in the NCAA Tournament.

This trash can could have won the 2019 World Series if it had just gotten a little more use.

This statement has been thrown around a lot since it was announced the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled.  But this statement has no value.  Joe Burrow and the #1 LSU football team could have lost in the College Football Playoff if it was a 68-team tournament instead of a 4-team playoff.  The Kansas City Chiefs could have lost the Super Bowl if Patrick Mahomes threw an interception instead of this 44-yard completion.  The Washington Nationals could have lost the World Series if the Astros had banged on more trash cans.  And the Gonzaga Bulldogs could have finished number one in the AP and Coaches Polls if Baylor’s Jared Butler hit a three at the buzzer against Kansas.  But all of that is irrelevant because none of those scenarios actually happened.  LSU won the national championship, Kansas City won the Super Bowl, Washington won the World Series, and Kansas finished ranked number one in the AP and Coaches polls.  What could have happened is irrelevant (Boise State and San Diego State to the Big East anyone?).  What did happen is what matters, and the national championship selectors are awarding this season’s title on that basis.

What constitutes a National Championship?

Well, that depends.  Let’s start with Merriam-Webster’s “champion” definition: “a winner of first prize or first place in competition.”  So, a national champion could be a team that took “first prize” in the NCAA basketball tournament.  It could also be a team that took first prize in another competition. Wabash claims the 1922 basketball national championship for winning a national intercollegiate tournament.  And some schools claim national championships through winning the national AAU Basketball Tournament, such as Washburn University in Kansas (1925) and Utah in 1916 (pg. 106).  Hiram College in Ohio also claims the 1904 basketball national championship based on winning the 1904 Inter-collegiate Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and some schools like San Francisco and Utah (pg. 106) claim national championships based on winning the NIT when the tournament was more prominent. So, winning a national tournament qualifies a team to meet the definition of a national champion.

“The Billingsley Report is the greatest poll system of all-time! But only the version that uses margin of victory. The other one is awful.” -Auburn Athletic Department

So what about being first place in a competition? To be first place, the team would have to have a higher standing than another team.  This is how we get regular season conference champions.  Whichever team finishes first place in the standings is the conference champion.  Likewise, many national championships have been awarded through being first place in poll rankings.  The most famous poll rankings are the Associated Press and the Coaches polls, and the college football teams that have finished ranked first in those two polls have always claimed the national championship.  But there are many other noteworthy poll rankings, too, and being a poll #1 in some of these rankings has led to many well-known national championship claims.  For example, in college football, Auburn claims the 1913 national championship due to being ranked number one in the Billingsley Report’s Margin of Victory computer rankings, USC claims the 1939 national championship (pg. 117) due to being ranked number one in the Dickinson System’s formula, and Illinois claims the 1951 national title for tying Georgia Tech in the math-based Boand System.  In college basketball, Penn recognizes a 1920 national championship (pg. 105) after finishing first in the Premo-Porretta poll rankings.  Frankly, it doesn’t even matter if the poll ranking’s creator wants to call you the national champion. You think UCF reached out to Wes Colley about his opinion before declaring their Colley Matrix #1-ranked football team the 2017 national champions?

But a team can also be recognized as first place through a declarative statement.  For example, the Helms Athletic Foundation didn’t publish a full rankings list, but did proclaim a single national champion.  And the Veteran Athletes of Philadelphia handed a national championship trophy to Butler basketball in 1929, while President Nixon awarded the 1969 college football championship to Texas for beating Arkansas 15-14 in their Southwest Conference regular season finale.  And you don’t have to be President to declare a national champion and have a school recognize it, either.  Pittsburgh recognizes three football national championships that were awarded by no other major selector than the historical research of a single person, Parke Davis.  Davis declared Pitt co-champions on three separate occasions: with Cornell in 1915, with Colgate and Army in 1916, and with Purdue in 1931.  One of the most fascinating national championship claims of all-time is the 1940 Boston College football team that was not selected by a single NCAA-recognized major selector (and there were 16 of them that season (pg. 114)).  However, the sports editor of the New York Herald wrote that the Eagles were entitled “to be the undefeated champions of the United States,” and that declaration and an unbeaten record were enough for the BC Athletic Department to claim the national championship.  

So the national championship can be claimed not only by winning a tournament, but also by finishing first place in a poll ranking or being declared the champions by a person or organization.  

The 2020 College Basketball National Championship

So now that it’s established that every season in college basketball history has had at least one national champion selected, who is the big winner this year and why?  The answer to that one is pretty obvious.  

“Once the bars open back up, let’s go to The Wheel to get some pounders and talk poll rankings.” -Kansas Athletic Department

Any way you draw it up, the Kansas Jayhawks are the consensus national poll champions.  If you’ve never heard of it, check out the Massey Composite.  There are 56 different polls tracked in that composite.  Some of the polls are based on human voters, like the Associated Press and the Coaches.  Some are math-based systems that attempt to rank teams based on who is the best team, regardless of what they actually accomplished.  Others are math-based systems that attempt to rank teams based on their level of accomplishment, regardless of how good the team actually is.  And even others use some combination of prediction and merit.  But of those 56 rankings, an overwhelming 49 of them ranked Kansas number one.  So Kansas is the consensus number one in the polls.

Those 49 number one rankings include all five of the non-NET ratings on the selection committee team sheet (the predictive-based Ken Pomeroy, ESPN BPI, and Sagarin, as well as the results-based ESPN Strength of Record and Kevin Pauga Index (KPI)).  And it also includes rankings that the NCAA Football Record Book has designated as major national championship selectors, due to being “national in scope.”  Certainly, the rankings on the team sheet are national in scope, and Kansas has the consensus selection there.  

At this point, you may be wondering if you can just declare a team national champions yourself. And the answer is a resounding YES!  But as mentioned, what separates a major national championship selector from everyone else is that they are “national in scope.”  For example, Graham Doeren Bracketology proclaims Kansas the 2020 National Champions!  Okay… so, what? But what if Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg, Rece Davis, and Laphonso Ellis get together and hand Bill Self the 2020 ESPN College Gameday National Championship with the trophy being an original piece of the Aggro Crag?  Now THAT would be a national in scope selector people would care about. 

And the NCAA has also already shown us what other “national in scope” rankings are through being recognized by the NCAA as college football major national championship selectors.  Besides the Associated Press and Coaches polls (Kansas was a near unanimous number one in both), the following math-based polls are also major national championship selectors:

  • Colley Matrix – #1 Kansas
  • Dunkel Index – #1 Gonzaga
  • Massey Ratings – #1 Kansas
  • Rothman (FACT) – #1 Kansas
  • Sagarin Ratings – #1 Kansas
  • Wolfe Ratings – #1 Kansas
“You know what football team was really awesome? The 1957 Michigan State Spartans. They were so good. They’re our football spirit animal.” -Gonzaga Athletic Department

So again, Kansas gets the consensus nod by ranking 1st in five of the six polls.  But the Gonzaga Bulldogs also get a selection for number one by the Dunkel Index.  While Kansas is, by definition, the 2020 consensus national poll champion, Gonzaga is also, by definition, a national poll champion.  And a number one ranking in the Dunkel Index, by itself, was enough to get Michigan State’s 1957 football team (pg. 155) recognized by the Spartan Athletic Department  as national champions.  As with Kansas, it remains to be seen whether or not Gonzaga will claim a national championship (the Bulldogs also finished 1st in NET).  It’s very unlikely Gonzaga will claim the title due to Kansas holding such a definitive grip on the consensus number one spot, but there are much worse national championship claims out there.  To name just a few:

“Oh, come on. Like you’ve never created your own national championship trophy to try to make people think you were awarded the Coaches Poll National Championship when it was really the retroactive Sagarin Ratings.” -Kentucky Athletic Department

But returning to this season’s poll rankings… By themselves, Kansas (49) and Gonzaga (7) received every single national poll number one ranking (as tracked by the Massey Composite).  

But as mentioned earlier, a national championship can be awarded not only by winning a tournament or finishing number one in a poll, but also through the declaration of a person or organization.  Kansas got one of those by tweet, the modern day version of BC being proclaimed national champions in the New York Herald.  But this season’s third national championship recipient comes in through this category.  The Florida State Seminoles were proclaimed national champions by the Florida Senate, despite the resolution itself stating that Florida State was ranked fourth in the country.  But to each their own, and a national championship selection by an organization like the Florida Senate is certainly newsworthy, even if the Noles failed to finish ranked number one in any polls.  

To claim or not to claim?

At the end of the day, being selected for the national championship doesn’t matter a whole lot if a school doesn’t recognize it.  Back in the late 50s, finishing number one in the AP poll meant you were a champion, regardless of whether you went on to win the NCAA Tournament or not.  But no school claims an AP poll basketball title by itself, probably due to the poll debuting a decade after the NCAA Tournament and the NIT did.  And there was also the whole issue of claiming you’re the national champion when another school went on to win the tournament after the last poll was taken.  If Kansas is going to recognize a national championship without winning a season-ending national tournament, they’ll be the first school to do so since undefeated Kentucky in 1954 (who finished first in the AP poll and was selected by Helms).  

Historically, the situation that most closely matches the present is 1941 in college football.  This year’s Kansas basketball team and that year’s Minnesota football team (pg. 114) both finished first in the most well-known polls, including the AP.  But a second contender grabbed a couple of well-known math polls (Gonzaga in basketball and Texas in football).  And the third team with a selection (Florida State in basketball and Alabama in football) can’t say with a straight face that they really deserved their selection.  But hey, that didn’t keep Alabama from claiming the 1941 football title.

“If losing your bowl game and a regular season game is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” -Tennessee Athletic Department

When the dust settles, these three schools will all have to ask themselves whether they truly believe they had the best season in the country.  That belief is why schools like Boston College fight for their 1940 football team to be recognized.  They may not have gotten an NCAA-recognized major selector to choose them, but they truly believe they had the best season in the country.  Frankly, it’s admirable that BC is willing to defend their claim.  Though it’s less admirable that Tennessee claims that same national championship (pg. 141), despite not being selected AP champions and losing the Sugar Bowl to that very BC team. Speaking of the Vols football team, they also claim the 1967 national title despite finishing 9-2 with an Orange Bowl loss to Oklahoma (pg. 142).  But I guess that’s the power that comes with finishing ranked number one in the Litkenhous computer poll.

Anyways, Kansas can absolutely hold their heads high if they hang a national championship banner this year.  With a straight face, they can confidently say they had the best season in the country, and they’re just following the historical precedent.  But there’s no reason to hide that this season was a little different than most.  Kansas should be proud and not hide that fact, so they might want to make it known on the banner itself that this was a “poll” title.

“No one knows what it means! But it’s provocative. It gets the people glowing.” -Chazz Michael Michaels on Gonzaga’s banner

As for Gonzaga, there are way worse claims out there.  The Bulldogs would certainly have some doubt that they had the best season in the country, but at 31-2 and first in the NET and Dunkel, they can make the argument with a straight face.  It’s probably best to hang a banner with a big #1 on it that says, “NCAA NET” and “DUNKEL INDEX.”  A very accurate statement that leaves a little to the imagination about what exactly it is they’re claiming.  National Champions, #1 in the country, or just a recognition of a couple really good computer poll rankings?  I don’t know, and that’s the beauty of it.

As for Florida State, they’ll probably just want to hang an ACC Championship banner and call it a successful season.  But hey, you can always be 1968 Georgia football and recognize yourselves as National Champions in a year where you finished with 8 wins in an 11-game season.

But regardless of what these schools choose to do, they have been awarded national championships. Whether they feel confident enough to claim them is a different matter entirely.  But just do me one favor, don’t go saying these teams could have lost in the NCAA Tournament.  It’s literally impossible to lose a game in a tournament that doesn’t exist.  We’ll all just have to judge these teams based on reality, even if it’s reality without March Madness.

Selection Sunday Bracket

There won’t be an NCAA tournament this year, but here’s a Selection Sunday bracket anyways to give everyone an idea of what might have been. If you want to skip to the bracket below, please scroll down. But this bracket will give you some insight into why teams were placed where they were.

One Seeds

Kansas is the easy choice for one overall. They were 1st in quadrant one wins, KPI, SOR, BPI, Sagarin, and Ken Pom. I suspect Bill Self would’ve chosen Omaha to Houston as the path to the Final Four, so Kansas is the one in the South. If Baylor failed to win the Big XII tournament, Gonzaga would’ve jumped them to two overall, but Baylor’s 11 quadrant one wins and victories away from home over Kansas and Villanova are too hard to ignore. Dayton rounds out the top four, despite a lack of wins over tournament-quality competition. They pass the eye test to go along with a KPI ranking of third and 13-2 record vs. the top two quadrants. Baylor goes to the Midwest, Gonzaga to the West, and Dayton to the East.

2 through 4 seeds

The fifth overall selection is Florida State. Despite some so-so efficiency metrics, the ACC Champions went 14-5 vs. the top two quads and swept Louisville. Two-loss San Diego State was uninspiring over the last few weeks of the season, but those dominant wins against Creighton, Iowa, and BYU aged well. Co-BIg East Champions Villanova and Creighton round out the two line. Villanova racked up 10 quadrant one wins (including Kansas) and the number 4 rating in KPI. Creighton won at Seton Hall and Villanova, earning 9 total quadrant one wins. FSU goes to the Midwest (as overall one Kansas can’t draw them in the South), San Diego St goes West, Villanova goes East, and Creighton goes to the South.

Duke, Michigan St, Seton Hall, and Kentucky are the three seeds. The Blue Devils had some ugly losses, but they beat Kansas on a neutral court and Michigan St on the road. Speaking of the Spartans, their efficiency metrics are great and they finished the season strong, taking home a share of the Big Ten title. Seton Hall grabbed a share of the Big East crown and they beat Maryland and Villanova, along with some other strong road wins. Kentucky rounded out the three line with a great record and an excellent performance against quadrant 1-A, but some disappointing losses to go along with a stunning home defeat to Evansville. Michigan State and Kentucky switched regions because the Midwest and South regions needed to be competitively balanced (they were not within five overall seed totals of each other).

Four and Five Lines

Pac-12 champion Oregon, Big Ten co-champ Maryland, Louisville, and Big Ten co-champ Wisconsin made up the four line. Louisville could not head to the Midwest and Indianapolis because Florida State was already there from the ACC. So Wisconsin moved to that region.

The five line is headed by Ohio State, a team that started the season very strong and picked their play back up later on. Their season-ending loss to Michigan State prevented them from moving onto the four line over Wisconsin. Butler had ten quad one wins, making them an easy selection for the five line. Auburn’s excellent record and mediocre efficiency metrics resulted in a strong resume ending up as a five seed. BYU was slated for a five seed until they fell to St Mary’s in the WCC Tournament. That loss allowed West Virginia to move into the 20th overall seed. The Mountaineers have great efficiency metrics. Although their offense struggles for long stretches, a season-ending home win over Baylor and a neutral court win over Ohio State add legitimacy to the overall profile. Ohio St goes to Omaha, Butler to Tampa, and Auburn and WVU to pods in Sacramento and Spokane.

Six, Seven, and Eight Seeds

BYU is the overall 21 seed in the bracket, making them the best six. But because BYU will not play on Sundays, they had to be in either the South or the Midwest with a Thursday-Saturday pod. Rather than bump WVU down to a six, top 7 seed Iowa moves up. Virginia ended the season well and finished with some good wins, but they still had mediocre efficiency numbers and a historically inept offense for a team that defensively efficient. Penn State could have been higher, but a poor SOS and a bad loss to Northwestern moved them to the six line. Michigan was the final six seed. Their profile was more fitting of a seven seed, but that blowout neutral court win over Gonzaga had serious staying power.

Besides BYU, Houston, Illinois, and Providence round out the seven line. Houston lacked strong wins, but their overall numbers suggest a seven seed and a good one at that. Both Illinois and Providence could have find themselves down on the eight line but Illinois had a solid collection of wins and Providence had excellent wins to go with 4 bad losses.

Arizona heads the eight seeds, going to Spokane despite a lot of missed opportunities during the season. Colorado ended with three bad losses, but played a tough schedule. The Buffs had some strong wins, including Dayton on a neutral court. St Mary’s was really solid this year, but not spectacular. An eight seed is appropriate for them, as it is for an LSU team that had 12 quadrant one or two wins but a lack of truly marquee wins.

Nine and Ten Seeds

USC did not have good efficiency metrics, but they were an impressive 17-9 vs. the first three quadrants. They topped the nine seeds and were followed by Oklahoma, who had five quadrant one wins and an excellent victory at West Virginia. Marquette and Arizona State, with five quadrant one wins each, were 35 and 36 overall. The ten line consists of Rutgers, Utah State, East Tennessee State, and Florida, in order. The Scarlet Knights had only two road victories, but one was a big one over Purdue. Utah State had a marquee win over San Diego St to boost their profile, ETSU won at LSU, and Florida had five quadrant one wins to go with no bad losses.

The Bubble

Indiana struggled on the road and was just 4-10 vs. quadrant one, but they did still have the 29th best Strength of Record. That would be just enough. They couldn’t go to Cleveland due to Iowa and Michigan State being there, so they head to Greensboro. Wichita State was swept by Cincinnati and lacked eye popping wins, but KPI, Strength of Record, and Sagarin all placed the Shockers 30th or 32nd. They were solid enough. Texas Tech rounds out the 11 seeds that avoided the First Four. Beating Louisville on a neutral court was their only glamorous win, but this team was just plain good. Despite a mediocre record and so-so schedule strength, they are one of the best 36 non-automatic qualifiers.

The First Four games would involve #44 Richmond vs. #45 NC State for an 11 seed and #46 UCLA vs. #47 Cincinnati for a 12 seed in the Mick Cronin Bowl. Richmond was a solid 14-7 vs. quadrants 1, 2, and 3 to go with a neutral court win over Wisconsin. NC State beat Duke by 22 and tallied four total quadrant one wins. Every major metric would indicate that UCLA should miss the field, but six quadrant one wins and a really strong performance down the stretch under a new coach would be just enough. Cincinnati gets the last bid after sweeping Wichita State and earning the top seed in the AAC. Despite four bad losses, they were 29th in KPI.

One-Bid Leagues

Stephen F Austin heads up the 12 seed AQ spots after losing just three times to go with a win at Duke. Liberty and Yale join them, edging out Akron, Vermont, New Mexico St, and North Texas. The 14 line is headed by 7-loss Belmont, followed by CAA Champion Hofstra, Bradley, and Eastern Washington. The fifteens are North Dakota St, UC Irvine, Little Rock, and Northern Kentucky, and the sixteens are Winthrop, Siena, Boston U, Prairie View A&M, Robert Morris, and NC Central, in order.

The Selection Sunday Bracket

SOUTH

1 Kansas
16 Boston U / Prairie View
(Omaha, NE)
8 Colorado
9 Marquette

5 Ohio St
12 SFA
(Omaha, NE)
4 Louisville
13 Vermont

6 Iowa
11 Wichita St
(Cleveland, OH)
3 Michigan St
14 Belmont

7 BYU
10 East Tenn St
(St Louis, MO)
2 Creighton
15 N Dakota St

EAST

1 Dayton
16 Siena
(Cleveland, OH)
8 LSU
9 Arizona St

5 Butler
12 Liberty
(Tampa, FL)
4 Maryland
13 Akron

6 Michigan
11 Texas Tech
(Greensboro, NC)
3 Duke
14 Eastern Washington

7 Illinois
10 Utah St
(Albany, NY)
2 Villanova
15 Northern Kentucky

MIDWEST

1 Baylor
16 Winthrop
(St Louis, MO)
8 St Mary's
9 USC

5 Auburn
12 UCLA / Cincinnati
(Sacramento, CA)
4 Wisconsin
13 New Mexico St

6 Virginia
11 Indiana
(Greensboro, NC)
3 Kentucky
14 Bradley

7 Houston
10 Rutgers
(Tampa, FL)
2 Florida St
15 Little Rock

WEST

1 Gonzaga
16 Robert Morris / NC Central
(Spokane, WA)
8 Arizona
9 Oklahoma

5 West Virginia
12 Yale
(Spokane, WA)
4 Oregon
13 North Texas

6 Penn St
11 Richmond / NC State
(Albany, NY)
3 Seton Hall
14 Hofstra

7 Providence
10 Florida
(Sacramento, CA)
2 San Diego St
15 UC Irvine

Thanks for following along this year!

3/9 Bracket

Texas Tech lost at home to Kansas to end the regular season and finds themselves just above the First Four currently. Beating Texas (two spots out) in the Big XII opener could be the difference between making and missing the field.
SOUTH

1 Kansas
16 Prairie View / St Francis

8 Arizona
9 Marquette

5 Ohio St
12 Liberty

4 Louisville
13 Vermont

6 West Virginia
11 Richmond / Wichita St

3 Kentucky
14 Hofstra

7 Iowa
10 Utah St

2 Creighton
15 Wright St

EAST

1 Dayton
16 Siena / NC Central

8 Providence
9 Oklahoma

5 Butler
12 Stanford / NC State

4 Maryland
13 Yale

6 Penn St
11 Xavier

3 Duke
14 Colgate

7 Houston
10 Rutgers

2 Villanova
15 N Dakota St

MIDWEST

1 Baylor
16 UC Irvine

8 St Mary's
9 USC

5 BYU
12 New Mexico St

4 Wisconsin
13 Belmont

6 Michigan
11 Texas Tech

3 Seton Hall
14 Bradley

7 Illinois
10 ETSU

2 Florida St
15 Little Rock

WEST

1 Gonzaga
16 Winthrop

8 LSU
9 Arizona St

5 Auburn
12 SFA

4 Oregon
13 Akron

6 Virginia
11 Indiana

3 Michigan St
14 North Texas

7 Colorado
10 Florida

2 San Diego St
15 E Washington

3/7 Bracket

  • Baylor can clinch a one seed if they win at West Virginia
  • Indiana can clinch a bid at home vs. Wisconsin
  • Texas Tech can clinch a bid at home vs. Kansas
  • Seton Hall can clinch an outright Big East Championship at Creighton
  • Rutgers is at Purdue in a bubble battle
  • USC can clinch a bid at home vs. UCLA, who is right on the cutline
  • Louisville can clinch a top four, protected seed at Virginia. In addition to those two, Duke and Florida State also remain alive for the ACC title.
  • The Ohio Valley title is on the line
  • First Four Out: NC State, Northern Iowa, Cincinnati, Purdue
Seton Hall can grab the outright Big East championship at Creighton. A win would likely send Seton Hall to the two line on Selection Sunday.
MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 NC A&T / Robert Morris

(Omaha, NE)

8 Houston
9 LSU

5 BYU
12 Wichita State / Richmond

(Tampa, FL)

4 Kentucky
13 Vermont

6 West Virginia
11 Stanford / Rutgers

(Cleveland, OH)

3 Louisville
14 Belmont

7 Iowa
10 Arizona St

(St Louis, MO)

2 Creighton
15 Wright St

EAST

1 Dayton
16 Winthrop

(Cleveland, OH)

8 Illinois
9 Florida

5 Auburn
12 Yale

(Greensboro, NC)

4 Maryland
13 Bradley

6 Michigan
11 Oklahoma

(Greensboro, NC)

3 Duke
14 North Texas

7 Virginia
10 ETSU

(Albany, NY)

2 Villanova
15 Colgate

SOUTH

1 Baylor
16 Siena / Prairie View A&M

(St Louis, MO)

8 St Mary's
9 Indiana

5 Wisconsin
12 SFA

(Sacramento, CA)

4 Butler
13 Akron

6 Colorado
11 Texas

(Omaha, NE)

3 Michigan St
14 UC Irvine

7 Marquette
10 Texas Tech

(Tampa, FL)

2 Florida St
15 N Dakota St

WEST

1 Gonzaga
16 Little Rock

(Spokane, WA)

8 Providence
9 USC

5 Ohio St
12 Liberty

(Spokane, WA)

4 Oregon
13 New Mexico St

6 Penn St
11 UCLA

(Albany, NY)

3 Seton Hall
14 Hofstra

7 Arizona
10 Xavier

(Sacramento, CA)

2 San Diego St
15 E Washington

3/6 Bracket

Villanova picked up a huge win at Seton Hall to move up to the 7th overall seed.
MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 NC A&T / Robert Morris

(Omaha, NE)

8 Houston
9 LSU

5 BYU
12 Rutgers / Cincinnati

(Tampa, FL)

4 Kentucky
13 Vermont

6 West Virginia
11 UCLA

(Cleveland, OH)

3 Louisville
14 Belmont

7 Iowa
10 Arizona St

(St Louis, MO)

2 Creighton
15 Wright St

EAST

1 Dayton
16 Radford

(Cleveland, OH)

8 Illinois
9 Florida

5 Auburn
12 Stanford / Wichita St

(Greensboro, NC)

4 Maryland
13 Yale

6 Michigan
11 Oklahoma

(Greensboro, NC)

3 Duke
14 North Texas

7 Virginia
10 ETSU

(Albany, NY)

2 Creighton
15 Colgate

SOUTH

1 Baylor
16 Siena / Prairie View A&M

(St Louis, MO)

8 St Mary's
9 Indiana

5 Wisconsin
12 SFA

(Sacramento, CA)

4 Butler
13 Akron

6 Colorado
11 Texas

(Omaha, NE)

3 Michigan St
14 UC Irvine

7 Marquette
10 Texas Tech

(Tampa, FL)

2 Florida St
15 N Dakota St

WEST

1 Gonzaga
16 Little Rock

(Spokane, WA)

8 Providence
9 USC

5 Ohio St
12 Liberty

(Spokane, WA)

4 Oregon
13 New Mexico St

6 Penn St
11 Northern Iowa

(Albany, NY)

3 Seton Hall
14 Hofstra

7 Arizona
10 Xavier

(Sacramento, CA)

2 San Diego St
15 E Washington

3/2 Bracket

Creighton fell at St John’s by 20, guaranteeing Seton Hall at least a share of the Big East Championship. It looks extremely likely that Seton Hall will enter the NCAAs as a top three seed.
MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 St Francis (PA) / NC A&T

8 Michigan
9 Xavier

5 Ohio St
12 Liberty

4 Michigan St
13 North Texas

6 BYU
11 Wichita St

3 Creighton
14 Hofstra

7 Houston
10 Florida

2 Duke
15 S Dakota St

EAST

1 San Diego St
16 Siena / Prairie View A&M

8 USC
9 Oklahoma

5 Penn St
12 Stanford / Texas

4 Louisville
13 Yale

6 Butler
11 UCLA

3 Maryland
14 Colgate

7 West Virginia
10 St Mary's

2 Dayton
15 Wright St

SOUTH

1 Baylor
16 Eastern Washington

8 Marquette
9 Arizona St

5 Wisconsin
12 SFA

4 Auburn
13 Vermont

6 Colorado
11 ETSU

3 Villanova
14 Belmont

7 Illinois
10 Texas Tech

2 Florida St
15 Little Rock

WEST

1 Gonzaga
16 Radford

8 LSU
9 Providence

5 Iowa
12 Cincinnati / NC State

4 Oregon
13 New Mexico St

6 Virginia
11 UNI

3 Kentucky
14 UC Irvine

7 Arizona
10 Indiana

2 Seton Hall
15 Bowling Green

3/1 Bracket

March is here! And with it, a new entrant to the bracket. Texas won at Texas Tech by 10 and has suddenly surged into the field. Note that Ohio St and Michigan St could meet in the second round to avoid moving either off their line, and this is permissible since they are only scheduled to play each other once this year.

MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 St Francis (PA) / NC A&T

8 Illinois
9 St Mary's

5 Penn St
12 Liberty

4 Louisville
13 North Texas

6 BYU
11 Rhode Island

3 Maryland
14 Hofstra

7 Michigan
10 Florida

2 Creighton
15 S Dakota St

EAST

1 San Diego St
16 Siena / Prairie View A&M

8 USC
9 Oklahoma

5 Ohio St
12 Wichita St / Texas

4 Michigan St
13 Yale

6 Butler
11 UCLA

3 Duke
14 Colgate

7 West Virginia
10 Xavier

2 Dayton
15 Wright St

SOUTH

1 Baylor
16 Eastern Washington

8 Marquette
9 Arizona St

5 Wisconsin
12 SFA

4 Auburn
13 Vermont

6 Colorado
11 ETSU

3 Villanova
14 Belmont

7 LSU
10 Texas Tech

2 Florida St
15 Little Rock

WEST

1 Gonzaga
16 Radford

8 Houston
9 Providence

5 Iowa
12 Cincinnati / NC State

4 Oregon
13 New Mexico St

6 Virginia
11 UNI

3 Kentucky
14 UC Irvine

7 Arizona
10 Indiana

2 Seton Hall
15 Bowling Green

Feb 29th Bracket

St Mary’s won at Santa Clara on Thursday night. With the win, St Mary’s can feel pretty good about a tournament bid with only Gonzaga and the WCC Tournament in front of them.
MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 St Francis (PA) / NC A&T

8 Illinois
9 St Mary's

5 Penn St
12 Northern Iowa

4 Louisville
13 North Texas

6 BYU
11 Rhode Island

3 Villanova
14 Hofstra

7 Butler
10 ETSU

2 Maryland
15 S Dakota St

EAST

1 San Diego St
16 Siena / Prairie View A&M

8 Virginia
9 Florida

5 West Virginia
12 Liberty

4 Michigan St
13 Yale

6 Michigan
11 Providence

3 Duke
14 Colgate

7 Houston
10 Xavier

2 Dayton
15 Wright St

SOUTH

1 Baylor
16 Eastern Washington

8 LSU
9 Indiana

5 Ohio St
12 Cincinnati / UCLA

4 Auburn
13 Vermont

6 Colorado
11 NC State / Wichita St

3 Seton Hall
14 Belmont

7 Marquette
10 USC

2 Florida St
15 Little Rock

WEST

1 Gonzaga
16 Radford

8 Arizona St
9 Texas Tech

5 Wisconsin
12 SFA

4 Oregon
13 New Mexico St

6 Iowa
11 Utah State

3 Kentucky
14 UC Irvine

7 Arizona
10 Oklahoma

2 Creighton
15 Bowling Green

2.26 Bracket

Yikes. Duke went from fifth overall at the bracket preview to a likely three seed after falling at Wake Forest.
MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 NC A&T / Robert Morris

(Omaha, NE)

8 Houston
9 Indiana

5 West Virginia
12 Liberty

(Cleveland, OH)

4 Kentucky
13 Akron

6 BYU
11 Cincinnati

(Albany, NY)

3 Villanova
14 UC Irvine

7 Marquette
10 Rhode Island

(Cleveland, OH)

2 Dayton
15 S Dakota St

EAST

1 San Diego St
16 Montana

(Sacramento, CA)

8 Arizona St
9 Florida

5 Colorado
12 Oklahoma / Providence

(Sacramento, CA)

4 Michigan St
13 SFA

6 Michigan
11 USC

(Greensboro, NC)

3 Duke
14 Belmont

7 Wisconsin
10 ETSU

(St Louis, MO)

2 Creighton
15 Colgate

SOUTH

1 Baylor
16 Wright St

(St Louis, MO)

8 Illinois
9 St Mary's

5 Penn St
12 Northern Iowa

(Tampa, FL)

4 Auburn
13 Vermont

6 Iowa
11 Utah St

(Albany, NY)

3 Seton Hall
14 Hofstra

7 Arizona
10 Xavier

(Tampa, FL)

2 Florida St
15 Little Rock

WEST

1 Gonzaga
16 St Peter's / Prairie View A&M

(Spokane, WA)

8 Texas Tech
9 Virginia

5 Ohio St
12 Yale

(Spokane, WA)

4 Oregon
13 North Texas

6 Butler
11 Wichita St / Rutgers

(Omaha, NE)

3 Louisville
14 New Mexico St

7 LSU
10 NC State

(Greensboro, NC)

2 Maryland
15 Radford

2.25 Bracket

West Virginia fell by 10 at Texas. WVU still has some things going for it, including very strong efficiency numbers. But they need to start winning games if they want to get back into the protected seed conversation.
MIDWEST

1 Kansas
16 NC A&T / Robert Morris

(Omaha, NE)

8 Houston
9 Indiana

5 West Virginia
12 Liberty

(Cleveland, OH)

4 Kentucky
13 Akron

6 BYU
11 Cincinnati

(St Louis, MO)

3 Creighton
14 UC Irvine

7 Marquette
10 Rhode Island

(Cleveland, OH)

2 Dayton
15 S Dakota St

EAST

1 San Diego St
16 Montana

(Sacramento, CA)

8 Arizona St
9 Florida

5 Colorado
12 Oklahoma / Providence

(Sacramento, CA)

4 Michigan St
13 SFA

6 Michigan
11 USC

(Albany, NY)

3 Villanova
14 Belmont

7 Wisconsin
10 Xavier

(Greensboro, NC)

2 Duke
15 Colgate

SOUTH

1 Baylor
16 Wright St

(St Louis, MO)

8 Illinois
9 St Mary's

5 Penn St
12 Northern Iowa

(Tampa, FL)

4 Auburn
13 Vermont

6 Iowa
11 Utah St

(Albany, NY)

3 Seton Hall
14 Hofstra

7 Arizona
10 ETSU

(Tampa, FL)

2 Florida St
15 Little Rock

WEST

1 Gonzaga
16 St Peter's / Prairie View A&M

(Spokane, WA)

8 Texas Tech
9 Virginia

5 Ohio St
12 Yale

(Spokane, WA)

4 Oregon
13 North Texas

6 Butler
11 Wichita St / Rutgers

(Omaha, NE)

3 Louisville
14 New Mexico St

7 LSU
10 NC State

(Greensboro, NC)

2 Maryland
15 Radford