Andy Katz released his annual preseason Bracket Prediction on Monday morning which featured eight Big Ten teams. The conference’s representatives were headlined by Michigan State (1-seed), followed by Maryland (2), Purdue (4), Ohio State (5), Illinois (5), Wisconsin (8), Penn State (8), and Michigan (11). Iowa was also identified in his projected “First Four Out”. This is a strong showing for the conference as a whole, duplicating the eight teams it sent to the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
BRACKET PREDICTION— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) September 16, 2019
We're just 5️⃣0️⃣ days away from the start of the season, and @TheAndyKatz is already locked in with his first bracket prediction for 2020!
Some of these projections may come as a surprise, specifically having Illinois as a top-five seed. Joe Lunardi, ESPN’s bracket specialist, had Illinois missing the tournament altogether, not even appearing on his “First Four Out” or “Next Four Out”. The Illini come into the 2019-20 season with mixed expectations as they return future star Ayo Dosunmu but are lacking some of the depth that good teams display.
It comes as no surprise that Michigan State comes in as a No. 1 seed given the returning starters, notably Cassius Winston who was named the best player in the nation, per CBS’s Candid Coaches series. They will face early tests against Kentucky in the Champions Classic and then Virginia Tech, Dayton/Georgia, and a possible matchup against Kansas in the Maui Invitational.
Katz also predicts strong follow-up seasons by Purdue and Maryland despite losing some key playmakers from last season. Overall, this figures to be a strong, competitive year for the conference, evidenced by both Katz’s and Lunardi’s bracket predictions.