The 2020 NCAA men's basketball tournament might have delivered a surprising national champion if the coronavirus pandemic hadn't forced a cancellation of the event.
According to ESPN's Seth Walder, Wisconsin, Maryland, BYU and Virginia reached the Final Four in a simulation of March Madness using the ESPN Basketball Power Index. The Badgers knocked off the Cougars in the national championship to claim what would've been their first title since 1941.
The program celebrated its virtual achievement:
Walder noted that ESPN only performed one simulation of the tournament to account for the unpredictability of March. Otherwise, one of the top favorites might have been the last team standing on aggregate over multiple tries.
Kansas (18 percent), Duke (17 percent), Gonzaga (15 percent), Michigan State (10 percent) and Dayton (7 percent) were the five teams with the highest probabilities of winning.
The Jayhawks ended the season as the No. 1 team in both the coaches poll and Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Unfortunately, fans will never knew how the 2020 tournament would've unfolded. The NCAA canceled all winter and spring championships to limit the spread of COVID-19.
According to the AP's Ralph D. Russo, a 16-team tournament was thrown out as an alternative to the traditional 68-team competition. Dan Gavitt, the NCAA's vice president of men's basketball, told Russo the idea didn't gain much traction with the selection committee.