The 2019-2020 college basketball season is less than a week away, which means it is time for the preseason NCAA Tournament bracket projection. It figures to be a season with a lot of familiarity.
The top four seeds are all teams we are used to seeing near the top of brackets. Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky and Kansas are projected, in order, as the four No. 1 seeds. Those four teams also happen to be playing a doubleheader on opening night with Duke facing Kansas followed by Michigan State vs. Kentucky on Tuesday in the Champions Classic at New York's Madison Square Garden.
The order of those seeds is not dependent on the results of those games. They are based on a full season. This is the only bracket I do that looks ahead to what I think the final bracket will look like. All of the other projected brackets during the season are what I think the bracket would look like if the season ended on that particular day.
There is also the recent news that Michigan State's Josh Langford has re-injured the foot that kept him out of most of last season. He is expected to, at least. I considered dropping the Spartans from the top line, but they still have a lot of talent returning and they did overcome that injury to make the Final Four in 2019.
ACC looks strong again
The ACC is again very strong at the top of the bracket, with Louisville and defending national champion Virginia as No. 2 seeds and North Carolina as the top No. 3. That's four teams in the top nine from that league. It seems to be a top heavy league again as this bracket only has three other ACC teams in it. Certainly, a few others are good enough to play their way in as well, most notably Notre Dame, which had a rare off-season in 2019.
The Big Ten has the most teams, with eight. Maryland looks like the greatest threat to Michigan State at the top of the league. Ohio State looks to take a big step forward this season and Purdue figures to be competitive again despite the loss of last season's NCAA Tournament star Carsen Edwards. I also have Michigan in the bracket in coach Juwan Howard's debut season.
The other participants in last season's Final Four, Auburn and Texas Tech, are also in the bracket with top-25 level seeds. Both teams lost a lot from last season's roster, so they make take a little step back, but each could be threats again by March.
The team with the biggest move up since the pre-preseason bracket in August is Oregon, which has added 5-star center N'Faly Dante to its lineup. That was enough to push the Ducks up to a No. 4 seed and make them the favorite in the Pac-12. That league has been much maligned, but things are starting to look up. While there no team seeded higher than that, five teams are in the bracket and a couple more look to be capable of playing their way in. That is better depth than in recent years.
Year Two for NET
We are entering the second season of the super-secretas the primary tool that the NCAA selection committee will use to help to select and seed the field. So far as we know, there have been no changes to that formula from last year, which is a little surprising. I expected them to make an effort to water down the margin of victory component, but it does not appear that has happened.
The next bracket will be in mid-December, setting us up for the start of conference play in earnest.