Thursday is normally one of the best sporting days of the year.
Had it not been for the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, March 19 would have been the first full day of the 2020 NCAA Tournament where 16 first-round games would have been played.
It normally ushers in a weekend in which we would see 40 games in total during a four-day stretch.
That’s heaven for countless sports fans across the country who would be clutching their brackets ever-so-tightly.
Instead, we have officially gone one week without sports after the outbreak of COVID-19 screeched to a halt.
The decision came amidst many of the major conferences’ postseason tournaments as notable organizations like the Big 12, ACC, Big Ten, and Big East canceled their playoffs before the NCAA Tournament went up in smoke.
But there were 12 teams — most of them mid-majors — that already won an automatic bid, providing an opportunity to see the rare sight of their names on the brackets of the big dance.
These are the teams we knew would be featured on the bracket:
Atlantic Sun winner: Liberty
Big South: Winthrop
Horizon: Northern Kentucky
Ivy League: Yale
Missouri Valley: Bradley
Mountain West Conference: Utah State
NEC: Robert Morris
Ohio Valley: Belmont
SOCON: East Tennessee State
Summit: North Dakota State
The NCAA opted not to release its bracket considering most of the big conference tournaments failed to play out, leaving too many hypotheticals to properly create a final field of 68 teams.
But here at amNewYork, the least we can do is dream.
Here is our imaginary 2020 NCAA Tournament bracket:
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Robert Morris/NC Central
8 Florida vs. 9 Arizona St.
5 West Virginia vs. 12 Liberty
4 Louisville vs. 13 North Texas
6 Iowa vs. 11 East Tennessee State
3 Duke vs. 14 Bradley
7 Penn State vs. 10 Marquette
2 Florida State vs. 15 Little Rock
1 Dayton vs. 16 Siena
8 LSU vs. 9 Rutgers
5 Ohio State vs. 12 Stephen F. Austin
4 Oregon vs. 13 New Mexico St.
6 Virginia vs. 11 Utah State
3 Michigan State vs. 14 UC Irvine
7 Illinois vs. 10 Oklahoma
2 Kentucky vs. 15 Northern Kentucky
1 Baylor vs. 16 Prairie View/Boston University
8 Colorado vs. 9 Providence
5 Butler vs. 12 Yale
4 Maryland vs. 13 Vermont
6 Auburn vs. 11 Richmond/ NC State
3 Seton Hall vs. 14 Hofstra
7 Michigan vs. 10 Texas Tech
2 Creighton vs. 15 North Dakota St.
1 Gonzaga vs. 16 Eastern Washington
8 Saint Mary’s vs. 9 USC
5 BYU vs. 12 Cincinnati
4 Wisconsin vs. 13 Akron
6 Houston vs. 11 Stanford/Wichita State
3 Villanova vs. 14 Belmont
7 Arizona vs. 10 Indiana
2 San Diego State vs. 15 Winthrop