Welcome back everyone and a very happy Monday to you all! Even though there is no NCAA basketball tournament this year of course due to everything that we all have been going through, I've still been trying to keep March Madness alive the best I can in my own little way. I decided I would simulate the entire tournament using my Official 2020 March Madness NCAA Tournament Bracket, taking us all the way down to the Final 4 and National Championship. The opening round tipped on Thursday, and the Round of 32 games took place over the weekend just as how the tournament was originally scheduled.
The Round of 32 simulation results left us with a bit of everything as far as the Sweet 16. We had a pair of 1-seeds left, and a pair sent packing in the 2nd Round, a 12-seed & 14-seed still alive, and one heck of a traditional power Blue Blood matchup in the East Region to look forward to. The simulation has had some fun with us so far, did it continue in the Sweet 16 Round? Strap-on your seat belts, it's time to find out!
The opening game of the Sweet 16 pitted 9-seed Texas Tech with 4-seed Louisville in the East Region. The Red Raiders had shocked top-seed Baylor at the buzzer in last round, and were looking to reach the Elite 8 for the second consecutive season (of course they reached the Title Game last year). The Cardinals had different plans, however, as they used a 48-24 second half to turn a close one at the half into a 26-point demolition.
The next game of the round had the biggest Cinderella to this point in action again as 14-seed Boston U. squared off against 7-seed Penn State in the West Region. The Terriers had managed a pair of upsets to this point, including taking out Villanova in the opening round, but alas, their improbable run came to an end in the Regional Semifinals, as Penn State hung-on for a 66-58 victory and advance to the Elite 8.
The third game of the Sweet 16 gave us our first upset of the round, as 10-seed Utah State overcame a 42-33 halftime deficit to shock 3-seed & co-Big East Champion, Creighton, 77-70, and advance to the Elite 8. The Aggies used a 44-28 2nd half to rally past the Blue Jays and become the first double-digit seed to reach the Elite 8 in this year's tournament.
The next game of the Sweet 16 slate sent us to the Midwest Region for what was expected to be a great showdown between 6-seed Arizona & 2-seed Florida State. The two did not disappoint as the Seminoles finished the contest with a 7-2 spurt to break an 80-80 deadlock, & dispatch the Wildcats, 87-82, in an excellent game and advance on to the Elite 8.
The first game of the second half of Elite 8 showdowns was the traditional Blue Blood showdown between the 3-seed in the East Region, Kentucky, and the 2-seed Duke Blue Devils. Both had looked good to this point of the tournament, so this one had all of the makings of another instant classic. The Wildcats came out determined, however, and 'pounced' all over the Blue Devils in the opening 20 minutes, taking a shockingly lopsided 44-21 advantage into the locker room. Coach K got the Dukies to battle back in the second half, but it still wasn't enough as Kentucky scored a relatively comfortable 66-55 victory to advance on to play Blue Grass In-State Rival Louisville in the Elite 8.
Our next showdown featured the #1-seed in the South Region, Dayton Flyers, in action against the surprising 12-seed Indiana Hoosiers. Dayton would have come in an easy favorite. However, in maybe the most impressive overall effort of the entire tournament to this point, the Hoosiers completely shellacked the top-seed Flyers, 79-49. It was a dominant effort throughout as IU outscored Dayton by 15 in each half. The shocker by the Hoosiers guarantees there will be a double-digit seed Final Four representative out of the South Region, thanks to 10-seed Utah State already advancing on. Who would have thunk it?
The next game of the day also figured to be a good one as the top-overall seed Kansas Jayhawks were in action in the Midwest Region against the 4-seed Wisconsin Badgers. Bill Self's men took a 2-point advantage into the locker room, but in classic Badger fashion, Greg Gard turned to defense, as the Badgers held the Jayhawks to 33 in the second half after giving up 50 in the first half. In the end, Wisconsin hung-on for the upset, 86-83, as a last-gasp 3 at the buzzer was off the mark for the Jayhawks. The Badgers advance to take on 2-seed Florida State in what should be an excellent Elite 8 matchup.
The final game of the Sweet 16 sent us out West for what figured to be an interesting showdown between Pac-12 foes, 8-seed Colorado & 4-seed Oregon. Both teams had looked impressive thus far in the simulation as the Buffaloes won by 23 & 24, over Florida & Gonzaga, respectively, and the Ducks blasted New Mexico State by 40 and then pulled away from Ohio State to win by 13. In another good game, the Buffaloes used a 42-31 first half advantage to keep the Ducks at a far enough distance throughout the second half to score yet another surprising victory, 73-63, and advance to an Elite 8 showdown with 7-seed Penn State.
There you have it everyone, what an interesting Elite 8 we have left. In a wide-open season in college basketball, where it seemed as though anybody could win it, maybe it is only fitting that we have an Elite 8 with no #1-seeds left. We have one 2-seed remaining in Florida State, one 3-seed in Kentucky, a pair of 4-seeds in Wisconsin & Louisville, a 7-seed in Penn State, an 8-seed in Colorado, a #10 in Utah State, and finally a 12-seed with Indiana. It should be an interesting Final Four, Florida State would be the new favorite to win it all, slightly ahead of Kentucky, but what this simulation has shown is March Madness is alive & well and the favorites are anything but a sure thing!
I hope you all are enjoying the simulations as much as I am, as we have dwindled the field all the way down to the Elite 8! As always I appreciate the support, and would love to get your thoughts in the comments section below. I'll be back again tomorrow giving you the Elite 8 results as we get ever-closer to the Final Four! In the meantime, stay calm, stay safe, and stay positive everybody!
Be sure to checkout today's video recapping the Sweet 16 simulation results!:
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