Were Sam Merrill and Utah State poised to be March Madness' Cinderella Story?  Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

nb游戏平台It’s still hard to process the cancellation of this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Though we know the cancellation was made with the protection of the health of student-athletes and fans in mind, the lack of a resolution to the season is difficult to stomach.

nb游戏平台Seniors will graduate without their last chance at glory. Programs with their best team in school history will not have their chance to shine. Questions will remain and “what ifs” will last forever.

These five storylines are among the things we’ll have missed most this March.

5. Sam Merrill and Utah State as a possible Cinderella

College basketball’s final hurrah of the season came the weekend before major conferences were abruptly forced to cancel their tournaments. In the Mountain West Tournament final, Utah State went toe-to-toe with highly-ranked San Diego State, knocking off the Aztecs thanks to in the final seconds.

nb游戏平台Most years, March gives us a pile of heroes and plays that we’ll never forget. This year, Merrill may end up standing alone. Sadly, he and the Aggies were never given a chance to expand on their success this season in the NCAA Tournament. BracketMatrix pegged Utah State as an 11-seed, giving the Aggies a perfect chance to be this season’s Cinderella. Utah State had the size, skill, and star (in Merrill) to win multiple games this March. Instead, the Aggies will have to settle for having 2020’s last shining moment in the year without a tournament.

Feb 29, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia; Virginia Cavaliers forward Jay Huff (30) celebrates while leaving the court after the Cavaliers game against Duke. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

4. Virginia’s reign as champions ends with a whimper

With no tournament played this year, Virginia becomes the first championship team unable to attempt to repeat as champions in college basketball. The Wahoos’ cast of characters had largely changed, yet by March it looked like they had a puncher’s chance to make a run through the brackets. Without Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy and DeAndre Hunter, Virginia’s offense sputtered for long stretches this season. Kehei Clark, Mamadi Diakite and Braxton Key took time to grow into their new roles in Charlottesville. In recent weeks, center Jay Huff emerged as a real scoring option in the middle.

Regardless of the Cavaliers’ offensive issues, Virginia ended the regular season as the top defensive team in the nation by defensive efficiency. Defense travels and can win games in March, which would have allowed the Hoos a chance to win games no matter their seed or their opponent.

Virginia fans may act like they will be the reigning champs for another entire year, but in truth, we’ll never know if the Cavaliers would have put up a strong fight to add another banner to the rafters at John Paul Jones Arena.

Feb 8, 2020; Moraga, California; Gonzaga Bulldogs head coach Mark Few talks in the huddle during the second half against the Saint Mary's Gaels at McKeon Pavilion.  Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

3. Gonzaga loses a chance at its first national championship

nb游戏平台Mark Few’s work in Spokane has been so incredible over the last two decades that it can be easy to overlook just how far he’s brought the Zags in his time on the sidelines. When Few took over, Gonzaga was a plucky mid-major, expected to compete for the West Coast Conference crown on a yearly basis but nothing more. Now, his Zags are a factor in the national title race every single year.

nb游戏平台The Zags hold the longest active streaks of consecutive years with a tournament win (eleven) and consecutive Sweet 16 appearances (five). Despite all of that success, Gonzaga haters still note the Zags’ lack of a national championship. This season the Bulldogs had yet another chance to cut down the nets. Gonzaga was likely to be a top seed in the NCAA Tournament and among the favorites to win it all. Now, Zags fans everywhere will need to wait another year.

Mar 7, 2020; Omaha, Nebraska; Seton Hall Pirates guard Myles Powell (13) looks to pass in their game against the Creighton Bluejays at CHI Health Center Omaha.  Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

2. Myles Powell never has his March moment

Of all the seniors losing their last chance at NCAA Tournament stardom, Seton Hall’s Myles Powell feels the most notable. Cassius Winston and Payton Pritchard have already been to the Final Four; Powell hasn’t made the second weekend of tournament play.

Even though he’s had a tough year shooting the basketball, Powell remained as one of college basketball’s most electric scorers and performers. Perhaps March would have been the perfect time for his shooting to regress positively to the expected mean, resulting in a scorching hot month. Powell feels like the perfect player who could have carried his team and become a household name throughout the Big East Tournament and into March Madness. Unfortunately for all of us, Myles Powell finishes his four years in Newark having played in just four tournament games and winning just once.

Feb 28, 2020; Dayton, Ohio; Dayton Flyers forward Obi Toppin (1) goes up to dunk against the Davidson Wildcats during the second half at University of Dayton Arena.  David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

1. Obi Toppin and the Dayton Flyers

nb游戏平台No fan base should be more distraught about the events of this month than Dayton. Anthony Grant’s program was not a flash in the pan nor a paper tiger atop the Atlantic-10 standings. The Flyers had the best team in school history and were absolutely a team capable of winning the entire NCAA Tournament.

nb游戏平台After San Diego State’s second loss of the season, Dayton had an opportunity to earn a No. 1 seed, with tournament games being played in Cleveland and Indianapolis, both under 200 miles from campus.

Obi Toppin should win National Player of the Year and was the most dominant performer in college basketball this season. He led the Flyers on both ends of the floor and made some of this season’s most memorable plays. Sadly, we likely won’t see him in an NCAA Tournament as he’ll head to the NBA Draft as a possible lottery pick.

nb游戏平台This article first appeared on and was syndicated with permission.


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Can you name every NCAA Men's Tournament Most Outstanding Player since 1979?
2019 / Virginia
Kyle Guy
2018 / Villanova
Donte DiVincenzo
2017 / UNC
Joel Berry II
2016 / Villanova
Ryan Arcidiacono
2015 / Duke
Tyus Jones
2014 / UConn
Shabazz Napier
2013 / Louisville
Luke Hancock
2012 / Kentucky
Anthony Davis
2011 / UConn
Kemba Walker
2010 / Duke
Kyle Singler
2009 / UNC
Wayne Ellington
2008 / Kansas
Mario Chalmers
2007 / Florida
Corey Brewer
2006 / Florida
Joakim Noah
2005 / UNC
Sean May
2004 / UConn
Emeka Okafor
2003 / Syracuse
Carmelo Anthony
2002 / Maryland
Juan Dixon
2001 / Duke
Shane Battier
2000 / Michigan St.
Mateen Cleaves
1999 / UConn
Richard Hamilton
1998 / Kentucky
Jeff Sheppard
1997 / Arizona
Miles Simon
1996 / Kentucky
Tony Delk
1995 / UCLA
Ed O'Bannon
1994 / Arkansas
Corliss Williamson
1993 / UNC
Donald Williams
1992 / Duke
Bobby Hurley
1991 / Duke
Christian Laettner
1990 / UNLV
Anderson Hunt
1989 / Michigan
Glen Rice
1988 / Kansas
Danny Manning
1987 / Indiana
Keith Smart
1986 / Louisville
Pervis Ellison
1985 / Villanova
Ed Pinckney
1984 / Georgetown
Patrick Ewing
1983 / Houston
Akeem Olajuwon
1982 / UNC
James Worthy
1981 / Indiana
Isiah Thomas
1980 / Louisville
Darrell Griffith
1979 / Michigan State
Magic Johnson

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