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Guest ANDY KATZ

20 predictions for the 2020 NCAA tournament

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Guest ANDY KATZ

Summer predictions are to be saved so we can refer back to them at the end of the season, sometimes even asking ourselves, "What were we thinking?"

So much has changed since our first Power 36 after the Final Four. And of course we reserve the right to change again before the first game tips off and then again once the season is fully underway.

But in this case, I’m feeling pretty good that I will be in the ballpark with these 20 predictions for the 2020 NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Let the debate begin!

4 teams bound for the Final Four in Atlanta

1. Michigan State: The Spartans should be the preseason No. 1 — or at least in the top two — with the most experience back at each key position.

2. Kansas: The return of Devon Dotson, Udoka Azubuike and Silvio De Sousa make the Jayhawks one of the most veteran teams in the country.

3. Florida: Love this Gators team. Florida added its missing piece in Kerry Blackshear Jr. The return of Andrew Nembhard gives the Gators one of the best lead guards.

4. Louisville: The Cardinals could have the ACC player of the year in Jordan Nwora. Chris Mack has been close before at Xavier. This could be the year he crosses the threshold to the Final Four.

5. Kentucky, Seton Hall and Maryland are on the cusp of the Final Four.

6. Cassius Winston will be the player of the year. The Michigan State senior guard won’t be the No. 1 draft pick. He may not be drafted at all. But he will be the most important player to a potential title team.

7. The freshman of the year will be North Carolina guard Cole Anthony. Yes, this point guard (we will move him to the Cousy list candidates) could have as much impact as any first-year player. The Tar Heels will need him to be Mr. Everything. He has the tools to do so. 

8 teams out of the 2019 NCAA tournament who'll be in the 2020 tournament:

8. Illinois (Big Ten): Patience will pay off for Illinois fans. Brad Underwood has this team ready to make a move.

9. Colorado (Pac-12): McKinley Wright IV is ready to lead the Buffaloes to the tournament.

10. Davidson (A-10): Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson form one of the best backcourts in the country.

11. Georgetown (Big East): The Hoyas have the backcourt and now have the big man in NC State transfer Omer Yurtseven to make the move.

12. Alabama (SEC): Guard Kira Lewis Jr. and coach Nate Oates will combine to lead the Tide to a bid

13. Notre Dame (ACC): Rex Pflueger was one of the better scorers in the ACC before he was done for the season. He’s back and so are the Irish.

14. Wichita State (AAC): The Shockers have the backcourt in Dexter Dennis and Jamarius Burton and coach Gregg Marshall’s drive to push the Shockers to the tournament.

15. BYU (WCC): The Cougars have one of the top scorers in the country in Yoeli Childs back. New coach Mark Pope has re-energized the Cougars.

5 teams who'll be on the brink of a NCAA bid

16. Penn State (Big Ten): Lamar Stevens will have the Nittany Lions in the mix.

17. USF (AAC): David Collins leads an experienced crew returning for Brian Gregory.

18. Pepperdine (WCC): Lorenzo Romar has the Waves in position to get a bid in large part because he has a great scorer in Colbey Ross.

19. South Carolina (SEC): AJ Lawson’s return means Frank Martin has his lead guard to take the Gamecocks possibly into the tournament.

20. Oregon State (Pac-12): Tres Tinkle and his dad/coach Wayne have tirelessly worked to put the Beavers in this position. They are ready to make a push for a bid.

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