(Photo illustration by Peyton Gallaher)

Making a Champion: Figuring out who would’ve won the 2020 national championship

Gabe Swartz
13 min readApr 6, 2020


Since the cancelation of the NCAA tournament, we’ve been bombarded by debates surrounding which team would have strung together six straight wins to take home the national title. Without the tournament, different teams, players and coaches have vocalized their belief in it being their year.

In a year where seven different teams spent time at No. 1 in the AP poll, Florida State was never one of them. Still, the Seminoles were declared “national champions by default” in a 37–2 vote in the Florida state senate March 14.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari released a statement expressing belief in what the Wildcats might have done had the postseason happened.

“I don’t say this lightly,” Calipari said in a statement. “I think I had the national championship team, and this group should go down as one of the most loved teams in my tenure here.

Calipari took it further.

“As I’ve said with my other teams that were Final Four teams and the national championship group, we never had a bad practice. Some of them may have been a little better than the others, but not once did I walk out and say, ‘That was awful.’ Not once this year.”

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to make statements like these. Nothing Calipari said in that statement will be refuted by the general public. Most Kentucky fans will go about their lives believing the Wildcats were destined for another deep run in March.

But I spent the majority of this year examining the flaws of each team in the country, hoping to pop each teams championship bubble.

This whole process began in November. It actually began out of my curiosity for the widespread national support for Michigan State as the preseason No. 1 team in the AP poll. I understood that preseason national player of the year Cassius Winston was returning to a team that upset Zion Williamson and the Duke Blue Devils en route to the Final Four in 2019, but I didn’t think the roster — which received 60 of 65 first-place votes in the preseason AP poll — surrounding the senior point guard was good enough to cut down the nets in Atlanta in 2020.



Gabe Swartz

Sports Journalism at Arizona State University | Cronkite 2022 | Staff Writer DevilsDigest.com | President WCSN | Former Editor-in-Chief of BVNWnews