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TGS SPECIAL REPORT...MOCK BRACKETS FOR 2020 DANCE

                                     by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor

For the moment, Selection Sunday lives in past tense. Today, March 15, was supposed to one of the most-exciting days on the calendar. Recalling our past Selection Sunday routines will help us embrace this festive day when it returns in 52 weeks for the 2021 version.

But for now, no harm in reminiscing a little, as Selection Sunday has always been a special time for us at TGS, even as we moved well into our sixth decade of publishing. We can’t help but look back at the past years and smile. Though, over the past decade-plus, Selection Sunday evolved into something not nearly as hectic or as high-strung as it was for us during the days when we had a hard print deadline not long after midnight. Online publishing gave us more time, effectively an extra day, to produce the tourney preview edition, which has expanded significantly from the days when we only had enough room to fit what the old print version of TGS allowed.

But that doesn’t mean we haven’t missed the old days, when, on Selection Sunday, TGS would more resemble a newsroom, as we would effectively have to start from scratch, at least with the expanded college version of the publication, once the tourney pairings were announced.

No other issue of the season came close to the sort of pressure and excitement as a “Hell Night” on Selection Sunday with its just-announced pairings!  As each year’s tournament progressed, we would have more time to analyze each of the matchups. The brackets and the regions were already known. But on the Selection Sunday “Hell Night,” we really were starting from scratch at about 4 PM Pacific time, with roughly nine hours to do all of the writeups, proofreading, and layout. In the days before we could electronically transmit the publication to a printer, paste boards were used, and we also had to then physically transport the boards to our printer. To help meet the deadline, we would arrange a pickup of one side of the publication earlier in the evening, with the other side, with all of the college game previews and writeups, still to be completed. How many times, on my drives from the TGS offices in West Los Angeles (before the move to Sherman Oaks) to our printer in the South Bay, near the Hawthorne Airport, I made that trek in the early morning hours after a Selection Sunday, with hardly anyone on the freeways. By 2 AM, I would drop off the other half of TGS, the side with all of the tourney writeups, just in time to make our print deadline, so we could have the publication ready for shipping on Monday morning.

Those days, living far away in Orange County, I often didn’t trudge home on such nights until around 3 AM, but it was a feeling of exultation every year when we would successfully complete the “Hell Night” ordeal. Which, in truth, wasn’t very hellish at all. The adrenaline rush, and excitement of producing that issue, have been hard to replicate, even though we eventually began to produce a far more substantial tourney issue for the newer, expanded, and online versions of TGS.

It’s now 13 years (2007) since we produced the big tourney edition in such a fashion. Beginning in 2008, our online publishing allowed us, a) a little more time to produce the tourney edition, and b) with fewer space constraints, we could preview upcoming action to our heart’s content. Which included writeups on all first-round action of the other “alphabet” tournaments (NIT, CBI, and CIT). Moreover, the following year I moved to Las Vegas, so I didn’t have to make a special trip to Nevada to watch the opening round of the tourney. We can look forward to a normal Selection Sunday next year that will be surely embraced like the gift it has always been.

With the college hoops season having been prematurely terminated, and some extra time to ponder what might have been on the hardwood these next few weeks, there’s no harm speculating how the field of 68 might have looked if there hadn’t been the recent disruption. We had been keeping close tabs and formulating our own TGS brackets (as we always do) for the past three months, and at least as of last Thursday morning had an idea of how the brackets might have shaped up at that time. So, what the heck, for ’ol times sake, here is how we projected the tournament field to have looked were the field to have been announced after last Wednesday’s action...


EAST

1 Dayton vs. 16 Winthrop
8 USC vs 9 Florida

4 Virginia vs. 13 Vermont
5 Butler vs. 12 Cincinnati/Indiana

2 Creighton vs. 15 Little Rock
7 Penn State vs. 10 Liberty

3 Michigan State vs. 14 North Dakota State
6 West Virginia vs. 11 New Mexico State


SOUTH

1 Kansas vs. 16 NC Central/Robert Morris
8 LSU vs 9 Utah State

4 Louisville vs. 13 Yale
5 Auburn vs. 12 Xavier

2 Florida State vs. 15 Northern Kentucky
7 Saint Mary’s vs. 10 E Tennessee State

3 Villanova vs. 14 Hofstra
6 Iowa vs. 11 Arizona State


MIDWEST

1 Baylor vs. 16 Siena/Prairie View
8 Arizona vs. 9 Illinois

4 Maryland vs. 13 Akron
5 BYU vs. 12 Marquette

2 Kentucky vs. 15 UC Irvine
7 Providence vs. 10 Colorado

3 Duke vs. 14 Belmont
6 Michigan vs. 11 Stephen F Austin


WEST

1 Gonzaga vs. 16 Boston U
8 Oklahoma vs 9 Rutgers

4 Oregon vs. 13 North Texas
5 Ohio State vs. 12 NC State/Richmond

2 San Diego State vs. 15 Eastern Washington
7 Houston vs 10 UCLA

3 Seton Hall vs. 14 Bradley
6 Wisconsin vs. 11 Texas Tech

Last four byes...Xavier, Marquette, Texas Tech, Arizona State

Last four in...Indiana, NC State, Cincinnati, Richmond

First four out...Wichita State, Mississippi State, Texas, Stanford

Next four out...Arkansas, Purdue, Memphis, Northern Iowa

We’ll never know how the field might have looked, but by us, at least, what you see above is as good an indicator as any of what might have been on Selection Sunday.  We'll be wrapping up our college hoop coverage with All-Newcomer and Superlatives within the next two weeks before beginning to shift gears to football, including NFL offseason doings and our annual Draft preview in early April. 


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