After cancelling the 2020 NCAA Tournament, there were reports that indicated that the NCAA was still considering releasing the bracket, even though it would not be played due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement released today by the NCAA’s VP of Basketball, Dan Gavitt, that idea was officially shut down, as he said there would be no Selection Show or bracket released this year.
“The important work of the basketball committees is to set up competitively-balanced brackets to determine national champions. I don’t believe it’s responsible or fair to do that with incomplete seasons — especially for tournaments that unfortunately won’t be played. Therefore there will not be any NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball championship selection shows or tournament brackets released this year,” said Gavitt.
As you can see in his comments, a big part of this decision was the fact that there were multiple questions still left without answers after conference tournament began to be cancelled.
“The women’s basketball committee had yet to even commence their selection meeting, and the men’s basketball committee had only just begun their selection process. There were 19 men’s and 18 women’s conference tournaments that had yet to be completed when the NCAA championships were cancelled. A total of 132 men’s games and 81 women’s games were never played, resulting in those automatic qualifiers not being determined on the court,” said Gavitt.
The argument can be made that everyone’s body of work had been almost completely finished and it didn’t really matter, but no one will ever truly know what would have happened because those games will never be played for us to have outcomes to breakdown and analyze.
Many people wanted to see the bracket released even if it wasn’t going to be played either to recognize those teams who made it, whether through their season or from an automatic qualifier, or to at least feel the joy of diving deep and examining the games.
“I have heard from many coaches and athletics directors who are trusted colleagues and friends that would like to see brackets released to recognize the successful seasons of their teams and student-athletes and to see who and where they would have played. Players and coaches want to see their school name on the bracket. Members of the media want to dissect matchups. Bracketologists want to compare the work of the committees versus what they’ve predicted. Fans are curious for those same reasons. All of us want something to fill the void we’re feeling,” said Gavitt.
With that said, it just wouldn’t be fair to release the bracket with everything left unfinished and unknown. They could speculate and decide who they think would’ve been in or out, but that’s not the same as knowing for certain. One of the best parts of March Madness is the unpredictability of it. Even if they made their best guess, there’s still little to no chance they’d actually get it 100% right with all those games and tournaments unplayed. If they couldn't release a perfect bracket, they did the right thing by not releasing one at all.
“Anything less than a credible process is inconsistent with the tradition of the NCAA basketball championships. Brackets based on hypotheticals can’t substitute for a complete selection, seeding and bracketing process.”