Welcome to the first edition of the Talk to the Palm Bracketology mailbag for the 2020-21 season. Once the college basketball season really gets rolling, I tend to get a lot of questions about my brackets and the selection process in general. This will give me a chance to answer some common questions, or better yet, uncommon ones. You submit your questions on Twitter and I'll answer the best ones here in the much beloved Q&A format.
I'll start with the question everyone asks.
Q: What does 'insert your team here' need to do to get in the tournament?
Talk to the Palm: Win the conference tournament. Less than that may be enough, but it is impossible to assess bubble teams in a vacuum. It always depends on what other teams do. Sorry, but it's not all about you. Unless you win the league -- then it is. In general, beat the good teams left on your schedule and don't lose to any bad ones.
Q: Has the NCAA said anything about what happens once the Tournament starts in Indy if a team has a COVID breakout? - @jwoh2001
Talk to the Palm: No, they have not. The NCAA folks are confident that their protocols -- if followed -- will greatly reduce the odds that a COVID breakout will occur, but they have not shared any contingency plans yet.
Q: Who do you think an emptier slate of nonconference games have hurt more? High majors, such as Maryland or Penn State who couldn't bank as many buy games, or non-majors, such as Loyola Chicago or Winthrop who couldn't play as many quality nonconference games? - @mikezor052588
Talk to the Palm: I think it has hurt them both equally. In a normal season, Penn State and Maryland may not worry much about their overall records, and it's possible that a few of the better non-majors would have picked up the kind of quality win that gives them a cushion against a bad loss in conference play. Loyola may not be the best example of that since the Ramblers did get to play Wisconsin.
However, the committee cannot speculate what a team might have done with a different nonconference schedule. Naturally, that is your point.
Q: Belmont... they're good. But if they don't win the OVC they're out, right? Which is unfortunate because their original nonconference schedule was loaded. - @ckrausse02
Talk to the Palm: Yes, they're out. Belmont is a team that I am curious about in terms of what the committee might do with them if they do get in. The Bruins are currently 21-1, but all 22 games are either Q3 or Q4, and the loss is a Q4 home loss to Samford. They are in the bottom five of overall SOS. I think they would end up getting seeded at a place that makes its first-round opponent very unhappy.
Talk to the Palm: I am not optimistic for any of them. There are not enough helpful games left on any of their schedules. I give the edge to Syracuse over Pitt and Georgia Tech because they are the only team of the three that is currently better than two games above .500.