Just 50 days from the start of the 2019-20 college basketball season, we asked NCAA.com basketball expert Andy Katz to fill out a March Madness bracket based on everything he saw this preseason.
Last year, Katz filed almost a dozen bracket predictions throughout the season. In his final prediction before Selection Sunday, he got 67 of the 68 teams correct.
So let's take a look at how he's starting off the 2019-20 season. Here's his preseason bracket (click or tap here to open the bracket in a new window or tab):
And here’s that same bracket in table form:
|16||NC Central/FDU||Iona/Prairie View||Sam Houston St.||Radford|
|13||W. Kentucky||New Mexico St.||Missouri St.||Furman|
|11||Vermont||Kansas St.||Iowa St.||Michigan/S. Carolina|
|14||William & Mary||Wright St.||Bucknell||Liberty|
|10||Cincinnati||NC State||Florida St.||Tennessee|
|2||Texas Tech||Maryland||Florida||Seton Hall|
Now, let's take a closer look at some of the highlights.
Michigan State, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisville earn 1 seeds
These predictions add even more spice to what is bound to be an electric opening night of the 2019-20 season.
Two of those teams — Michigan State and Kentucky — will play head to head in Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 5. A third — Kansas — will face off against Duke in the same tournament that night. Katz placed Duke — which will be led by returning starter Tre Jones, among a cadre of talented freshmen — as a 3 seed in his preseason prediction.
Last year’s Champions Classic saw No. 1 Kansas take down No. 10 Michigan State 92-87 and No. 4 Duke dominate No. 2 Kentucky 118-84.
Of course, things will look quite different for Kentucky and Duke this year. Both teams lost four of their top five scorers from last year, though Duke brings back Tre Jones, and Kentucky returns Ashton Hagans.
KATZ'S CRYSTAL BALL: 20 predictions for the 2020 NCAA tournament
Michigan State and Kansas on the other hand will have two of the most talented veteran lineups in the country.
The Spartans bring back seniors Cassius Winston (who Katz predicted to be this year’s player of the year) and Joshua Langford, junior Xavier Tillman, and sophomore Aaron Henry, all of whom were crucial to Michigan’s first Final Four run since 2015.
Kansas will have Devon Dotson and a healthy Udoka Azubuike back, along with key role players Silvio De Sousa and Mitch Lightfoot.
But for anyone who hasn’t paid attention during the offseason, the biggest surprise in this top line is Louisville as the fourth 1 seed. Coach Chris Mack is in his second season at the helm for the Cardinals, who had an impressive year in 2019, earning the school’s first tournament-berth since Rick Pitino’s departure, but still lost in the first round of the tournament.
But the Cardinals have an extremely solid core group to make a deeper run this year, returning leading scorer Jordan Nwora, along with Dwayne Sutton, Malik Williams, and Steven Enoch. The team will also add grad-transfer Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble — who averaged 15.6 points per game at St. Joseph’s last season — along with a loaded freshman class.
Just missing the cut
Katz went beyond the field of 68 to make some predictions on the bubble for the upcoming season.
First Four out:
Next four out:
Andy Katz's field of 68
Here is Katz’s full seed list in order:
|54||New Mexico State||13|
|58||William & Mary||14|
|63||Sam Houston State||16|
|65||North Carolina Central||16|