The 2019-20 college basketball season ended unceremoniously, and in unprecedented fashion, as a global pandemic started. Never before, not even during times of war or other catastrophe, has the NCAA tournament been canceled or otherwise not played. On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, and there was uncertainty as to when they would come back on again for the next season … or whether they would come back on again for the next season.
Let’s look back upon what was lost. While what was lost pales in comparison with the worldwide suffering of this pandemic, on a relative basis and keeping it in proper perspective, the abrupt ending to the 2020 postseason was heartbreaking for so many teams and players — especially for Dayton, San Diego State, Florida State, and Baylor. Look, every good team can feel like a title run was within its grasp as the NCAA tournament approached. But Baylor had its first No. 1 team and a legit chance for the Final Four. Dayton had a special team that could have won the whole thing. San Diego State and Florida State each had perhaps its best chance to reach a Final Four. It was March Sadness all around.
Yet the 2020-21 season begins with hope. Clearly, it will be a bumpy ride at the beginning and into the middle, but there are reasons for optimism as we get to March. First, the NCAA is hell-bent on playing the NCAA tournament this season. Two straight seasons of tournament cancellation could very well cripple the organization, and the game. This is a multibillion-dollar industry with a lot of money riding on it. The tournament has to be played. Second, while things are dire right now on the COVID-19 front, there seems to be legitimate optimism that things will improve dramatically by spring. Let’s all hope so.
Lastly, there is a significant increase in talent and experience across the college basketball landscape this season. The freshman class is ridiculously talented and capable. There are several experienced teams and players returning, and the race for the trophy and to cut down the nets in Indianapolis is about as wide-open as one can remember. There is no single, consensus favorite but a group of favorites. We will undoubtedly have Cinderellas emerge, and we will see breakout players who have worked and improved quietly at home during the pandemic quarantine, out of public view.
Year after year, The Bilastrator’s Opus has provided the public with ridiculously accurate previews and prognostications about the upcoming season. Entering this season, The Bilastrator had additional time to ponder the best we will see this season, in addition to having additional time to binge-watch several shows, read several books, eat several things not normally consumed and ponder the places most missed during the pandemic quarantine. The Bilastrator will fill you in via The Opus.
Lastly, a word of caution. If one were to take the Opus and use it for nefarious purposes, such as wagering, one could easily crash the fragile world economy and make Warren Buffett look like a guy on the street selling pencils out of a tin cup. I would urge you to use restraint and use this Opus for entertainment and informational purposes only. And, as always, you’re welcome, America.
The Bilastrator’s preseason All-Americans
There are only five on the postseason All-America team, so there are only five on the preseason team…
Honorable mention: Marcus Garrett, Kansas; Evan Mobley, USC; Corey Kispert, Gonzaga; Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton; Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova; Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois; Keyontae Johnson, Florida; Collin Gillespie, Villanova; B.J. Boston, Kentucky; Jalen Crutcher, Dayton; Oscar da Silva, Stanford; McKinley Wright IV, Colorado; Nate Reuvers, Wisconsin; San Hauser, Virginia; Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana.