Yes, we know this means just as much as those claimed mythical national championships in football from the pre-1936 era—and even after then, if a school is desperate enough (looking at you, Alabama, Michigan, and Notre Dame!)—but the Michigan State Spartans probably can be crowned the virtual champs for college basketball in 2020 now.
Yesterday, we noted three major sports-media websites—The Athletic, ESPN.com, and fivethirtyeight.com—all chose MSU to make it to the finals of March Madness, in their respective tournament projections.
Fivethirtyeight.com already had picked MSU to win it all at that point, and late last night, so did ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi, the guy known for his expertise in predicting “bracketology” every March. The Athletic had Kansas beating the Spartans in the finals by two points, also announced last night in lieu of a real title game actually being played.
Last month, CBS Sports predicted Dayton beating Gonzaga in the finals, and we’re skeptical of that projection based on the efficiency-balance profile of both teams, which almost always identifies an eventual-champion pool of teams.
Both teams had very outside shots at winning, and to put both in the finals was highly unlikely based on past efficiency-rating facts. We know a lot goes off script in basketball, but one thing that does not is the efficiency-balance factor as we explained in March 2019.
Therefore, with these four major media outlets chiming in, and Michigan State winning two of the four projections while finishing second in a third projection, it’s clear that the Spartans are the virtual national champions for 2020.
Start printing those t-shirts, Sparty.