In the current year of 2019, it’s harder and harder for the monster that is college basketball to rest during the offseason. Twitter keeps things lively during recruiting, players are drafted to the NBA, and Summer League games will happen in the very near future. Do you want to know who else doesn’t sleep? ESPN’s college basketball analyst Joe Lunardi, who yesterday released his projected bracket for the 2020 NCAA Tournament. Is it way too early? Of course. Are we going to talk about it? Why not?
In Lunardi’s bracket, he has North Carolina listed as the #1 seed in the east region, with the following teams making an appearance in their region:
#5 Ohio State
#6 Iowa State
#7 Mississippi State
#8 Ole Miss
#11 Arizona State
#16 Morgan St/LIU Brooklyn
Considering the massive turnover in talent via Coby White, Nassir Little, Cam Johnson, Kenny Williams and Luke Maye entering the NBA Draft, Lunardi’s projection for the Tar Heels is a bit surprising. It’s needless to say that the acquisitions of players like Cole Anthony, Christian Keeling, and Armando Bacot help make a case for the team to be title contenders this year, but there are still a number of questions going into the 2019-20 season. Will the Heels be exposed at the small forward spot? Will the bigs be able to hold their own now that Luke Maye is gone? How quickly will the overall team be able to gel with their previous leaders absent? It goes without saying that every team in Lunardi’s bracket has their fair share of questions as well, and so we will just have to wait and see how everything shakes out this fall.
The other three teams that join the Heels as a #1 seed are Michigan State, Kansas, and Duke. In his bracket, Duke is the top seed in the south, which may be questionable to a lot of people given the fact that Coach K lost Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish. They did their best to replenish their roster, but given the caliber of talent that Williamson and Barrett brought to the table, their 2019 class is about as down to earth as we’ve seen from them in a long time. In fact, Memphis, who is the #4 seed in UNC’s region, surpassed Duke by not only being blessed with the #1 recruiting class in the country, but did so by taking a recruit from Coach K in Boogie Ellis. If Duke is the team for the Heels to beat to open NCAA Tournament play in Greensboro, then Roy Williams has to be licking his chops.
To wrap things up, seeing the Tar Heels projected as a #1 seed is always fun, but we are a very long away from March. We may see an immense amount of parity this year across the top teams in the country, as there really isn’t any team in my mind that sticks out as being head and shoulders above the rest. Hopefully Lunardi’s third eye is just wide open in June, which may explain why he has trouble letting his love for college basketball sleep during the summer.