2020-2021 Preseason Bracketology

  • 11/24/2020 10:45 am in

The long, strange college basketball offseason is nearly over, which means it’s time to go on record with my preseason bracket projections. This set of projections is always the toughest to do since there simply isn’t actual data to use, and the uncertainty hanging over this season made the exercise even more difficult than normal.

In terms of methodology, I try to absorb as much preseason content as I can, whether that’s online or in print, data-driven or subjective. I review the 1-353 rankings that many sites are posting and look through past performance, returning production, and potential breakouts for the teams that profile as contenders in their league or the at-large pool. From a practical standpoint, this exercise is a useful way to build out my initial list of teams to monitor as the season begins.

I don’t typically produce another set of projections until after the first of the year, and it may end up being even later this year depending upon how many games are canceled or postponed between now and then.

While I didn’t have the time to do detailed write-ups as I have the last few seasons, I did want to touch briefly on Indiana and the Big Ten as a whole. The league didn’t land any teams on the top seed line, but it does lead all conferences with nine teams in the projected field. Similar to most preseason predictions for the Big Ten, there are two distinct clusters of teams with Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan State all placed between the two and four lines and then four other teams in the field as six or seven seeds. Purdue was the final Big Ten team to make the field, but Minnesota was also in consideration after receiving after benefitting from multiple transfer waivers. Much like last season, the conference is shaping up to be among the deepest in the country, and I would be surprised if any other conference sends more teams dancing than the Big Ten.

As for the Hoosiers, I think it would be a stretch to place them in that upper tier based on what we know now, but I am bullish enough on the team to believe a fifth place finish is well within the realm of possibility. And in a league as tough as the Big Ten projects to be, that would certainly be good enough for a strong seed. If you look at the other teams in the same tier of the league, Rutgers has a ton of returning production, but it remains to be seen how much the lack of home games at the RAC will truly mean. Michigan must replace multiple key pieces while integrating some transfers, and Ohio State is dealing with injuries already in addition to the loss of Kaleb Wesson.

Indiana’s non-conference schedule provides multiple opportunities for victories over major conference foes, and the tough Big Ten slate is loaded with chances to win games that would impress the selection committee. It’s also going to be an unprecedented season from a selection standpoint, so on some level, a high volume of opportunities to beat tournament-caliber teams should serve the Hoosiers well, provided they can acquit themselves well in those contests.

Following the bracket, I included the list of other teams I considered for the field as well as a breakdown by conference. Based on recent announcements from the NCAA, you will notice that I just numbered the regions and set Indianapolis as the site for all first round games.

Indianapolis Indianapolis
1) Gonzaga 1) Villanova
16) NC Central / Texas Southern 16) Colgate / Fairleigh Dickinson
8) Connecticut
8) Stanford
9) Purdue 9) Oklahoma
Indianapolis Indianapolis
5) Florida St.
5) Houston
12) W. Kentucky 12) Loyola Chicago
4) Texas Tech 4) Tennessee
13) Furman 13) New Mexico St.
Indianapolis Indianapolis
6) Arizona St. 6) Indiana
11) Arkansas 11) Miami (FL) / Ole Miss
3) Iowa 3) West Virginia
14) Wright St. 14) Little Rock
Indianapolis Indianapolis
7) Michigan 7) UCLA
10) Seton Hall 10) Syracuse
2) Duke 2) Wisconsin
15) UC Santa Barbara
15) E. Washington
Indianapolis Indianapolis
1) Virginia 1) Baylor
16) Hofstra 16) Lipscomb
8) Memphis 8) LSU
9) Alabama 9) Richmond
Indianapolis Indianapolis
5) Texas 5) North Carolina
12) Vermont 12) BYU / Marquette
4) Michigan St. 4) Oregon
13) South Dakota St. 13) Murray St.
Indianapolis Indianapolis
6) Rutgers 6) Florida
11) Providence
11) Arizona
3) Kentucky 3) Creighton
14) Bowling Green 14) Stephen F. Austin
Indianapolis Indianapolis
7) Ohio St. 7) Louisville
10) Saint Louis 10) San Diego St.
2) Kansas 2) Illinois
15) Siena 15) Winthrop

Other Teams Considered (in alphabetical order):



Georgia Tech


Northern Iowa



Conference Breakdown:

Big Ten (9): Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin

ACC (7): Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia

SEC (7): Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Tennessee

Big 12 (6): Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia

Big East (6): Connecticut, Creighton, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova

Pac-12 (5): Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA

American (2): Houston, Memphis

Atlantic 10 (2): Richmond, Saint Louis

West Coast (2): BYU, Gonzaga

America East: Vermont

Atlantic Sun: Lipscomb

Big Sky: Eastern Washington

Big South: Winthrop

Big West: UC Santa Barbara

Colonial: Hofstra

Conference USA: Western Kentucky

Horizon: Wright State

Ivy: N/A (League announced it will not be playing basketball this season)

MAAC: Siena

MAC: Bowling Green

MEAC: NC Central

Missouri Valley: Loyola Chicago

Mountain West: San Diego State

Northeast: Fairleigh Dickinson

Ohio Valley: Murray State

Patriot: Colgate

Southern: Furman

Southland: Stephen F. Austin

SWAC: Texas Southern

Summit: South Dakota State

Sun Belt: Little Rock

WAC: New Mexico State

Follow Andy on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops and to receive an update whenever new brackets are posted.

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