Final Four weekend was suppose to be the pinnacle of the college basketball season and March Madness. But the 2020 NCAA Tournament will have an * and forever be remembered for the shutdown caused by COVID-19. The health crisis has sent the world and American economy, sports and entertainment into a tailspin. And no bookmaker could have set odds on the impact and irrevocable harm this pandemic could have caused.
The financial loss will be forever felt, and with no March Madness in 2020 we're left with memories of great moments, teams and players that beat the odds and provided performances worthy of the best at tournament time. I covered one of those performances by Davidson and Stephen Curry in a recent article and March Madness memory at Forbes.
There was no further evaluation of our betting tips and postseason primer for March Madness, or our countdown to the NCAA Tournament that included researching and evaluating the the No. 1 seeds like Virginia last year. The Cavaliers went on to win the NCAA Championship in overtime over No. 3 seed Texas Tech, who I had at 75-1 odds to win the 2019 tournament during conference play of the regular season, and recommended at 23-1 heading into the Sweet Sixteen.
No bragging about your brackets and sweating out a Final Four game like last year's thrilling overtime championship game between Virginia and Texas Tech. That result saw millions of dollars change hands at the leading online sportsbooks with Virginia's win along with in-game betting and tournament futures bets. BetOnline has made Virginia (+900) the early 2021 NCAA Tournament favorite followed by Michigan State (+1000), Gonzaga (+1000) and Kansas (+1000); the latter two that would have been No. 1 seeds in the canceled 2020 NCAA Tournament.
We not only miss out on the most exciting opening four days and first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, but the opportunity to break down and bet the Sweet Sixteen.Or cash in on best bets like last year when Texas Tech dominated Michigan as underdog. Or witness one of the greatest Sweet Sixteen games in the past decade when Purdue and Tennessee piled up points in a 99-94 Boilermakers overtime win that featured a Volunteers second half comeback from an 18 point deficit. A wild, fast-paced game with 27 made 3-pointers at a 49% clip. Purdue would go on to lose in overtime in the Elite Eight to Texas Tech with Boilers guard Carsen Edwards completing one of the greatest individual performances in tournament history while averaging 35 points per game and a tournament record 28 made 3-point shots in four contests.
Last year for first time in NCAA Tournament history, all 16 favorites won in the round of 32 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Still, there were opening round upsets including three 5 versus 12 upsets. Fans and bettors especially miss the opening round of the tournament where hope bleeds eternal and upsets and fantastic finishes make up the NCAA Tournament we so dearly miss.
So with a Final Four weekend lost and no 2020 NCAA Tournament champion crowned, we're left with simulations of March Madness and what would have been. Whether blue blood No. 1 seed Kansas would have made the Final Four or upstart mid-majors Dayton or San Diego State would have made their run to Atlanta as top seeds (1-2) is left to 'what if' from bracketology. Would there have been a true Cinderella make a run to the Elite Eight and Final Four like Loyola Chicago in the 2018 NCAA Tournament?
Those are just some of the recent March Madness memories. But from the most memorable Elite Eight games to the best Final Four games beyond the recent decade, sports fans, bettors, media members and sportsbook operators won't forget the impact of COVID-19 and lost 2020 NCAA Tournament.
You can bet on it.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay