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There will be no NCAA tournament brackets after March Madness coronavirus cancellation

There will be no NCAA tournament brackets in 2020. 

Even after both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, some held out hope that a formal bracket would still be released. But that will not come to fruition. 

Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, explained why the NCAA came to that decision in a statement released on what would have been Selection Sunday. Because so many conference tournaments — the winners of which receive automatic bids to the NCAA tournament — went unplayed, Gavitt said it would not have been responsible to assemble a bracket without those results. 

“When NCAA winter and spring championships were cancelled Thursday afternoon, 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,” Gavitt said. 

“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.”

NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt (left) ultimately made the decision not to release an NCAA tournament bracket. (Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images )

Even without a tournament, a bracket release could have served as positive recognition for a great season for many programs that have experienced lengthy tournament droughts. Rutgers, for instance, was on the precipice of its first NCAA tournament since 1991 before March Madness was canceled. 

Gavitt acknowledged that he heard from administrators and coaches from across the sport who hoped to see brackets released. In the end, though, Gavitt believed a bracket assembled from an incomplete season would not have upheld the tradition of the NCAA tournament. 

“All of us want something to fill the void we’re feeling,” Gavitt wrote. “However, 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. There will always be an asterisk next to the 2020 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships regardless if brackets are released. 

“There is not an authentic way to produce tournament fields and brackets at this point without speculating and that isn’t fair to the teams that would be positively or negatively impacted by manufacturing March Madness.”

Gavitt made sure to note that the decision ultimately fell to him and that he had the support of the NCAA’s various basketball committees. He also wanted to keep the relative importance of college basketball in perspective. 

“In light of this global health crisis, I believe we need to keep college basketball in perspective,” Gavitt said. “Basketball family, please stay safe and I pray for the health of you and your loved ones. We will get through this pandemic and disappointing month of March together.”

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