Welcome back everybody! In lieu of no NCAA Tournament this year, I'm still trying to do my best to keep March Madness alive in my own small way. I released my Official 2020 March Madness NCAA Tournament Bracket on Saturday, and what it would have looked like if the "Big Dance" had been progressing as normally scheduled. I'm simulating the entire tournament using my official bracket, and yesterday, of course, marked day 1 of the first round. The first 16 games were eventful and provided us with some fun outcomes, but today's results really helped to put the "Madness" into March. Day 2 of the first round is in the books, and we now have the 32 survivors, it was a fun day in the simulated Tournament, and I'm pumped to share the results!
One disclaimer - I could do these simulations a 100 times, 10,000 times, etc. and take the winner in the majority of the outcomes like a lot of other sims do out there, but that's not how real March Madness works. The games are played once. Anything can happen as we all know, which is what makes the tournament so much fun to watch. So, whatever this simulation throws at us, so be it. If it was all chalk, then that's what we would have rolled with, and if it is completely ridiculous, well then so be it too. There we go, now that we have that covered, let's jump right into the day 2 results of the 1st round simulation to my Official 2020 March Madness Bracket!:
The first game of the day pitted my Providence Friars against USC, in a terrific 8 vs 9 matchup. PC jumped out to a 7-point halftime lead, but couldn't hold on to it down the stretch, as the Trojans finished the game on a hot-streak and rallied to sneak past the Friars in an excellent opening game to day 2, 67-65. Unfortunately, my Friars once again come up just short in the Tournament.
The second game of the day featured 3-seed Kentucky taking on the 14-seed in the East Region in the Hofstra Pride. The Wildcats took care of business in a pretty good game, 77-69, and advance to take on the winner of Auburn - Arizona State.
Moving along to the West Region, we had perhaps the game of the day as 5-seed Ohio State took on 12-seed Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks came into the game at 28-3, and probably would have been a somewhat popular upset pick. They jumped out to a 9-point halftime lead, but the Buckeyes came roaring back to outscore SFA 44-34 in the second half, getting the game-winner with just 1.0 second to play, in a 77-76 thriller.
Not to be outdone, the fourth game of the day was another thriller, and gave us the biggest upset of the tournament to this point, as Boston U. rallied in the second half to force overtime in a matchup with 3-seed Villanova. The 14-seed Terriers outscored the Wildcats 10-6 in overtime to pull off the remarkable 83-79 upset, in the biggest shocker of the tournament thus far. The co-Big East Champs head home early.
The 2-seed in the East, the Duke Blue Devils, were next up as they battled 15-seed North Dakota State. A dominant second half effort by the Dukies turned in a surprisingly close game in favor of the Bison at the intermission, into a rout in the end, as Duke advanced, 79-63.
Next, we jump up to the Midwest Region for the second 5 vs 12 matchup of the day as BYU took on play-in game winner Cincinnati. The metrics loved the Cougars this season, and they proved those lofty ratings true by taking down the Bearcats, 74-64 to advance on.
6-seed Illinois and 11-seed Liberty was the next game on the docket, and one that was expected to be one of the best of the opening round. The Flames went 30-4, and most likely would have a popular upset pick, but the Fighting Illini came ready to play and took it to Liberty from the get-go in a surprisingly easy 72-51 victory.
The final game of the early slate of games featured the 4-seed in the South Region, Maryland Terrapins, taking on the 13-seed Belmont Bruins. Belmont is making their second consecutive tournament appearance after getting in as an at-large last season. Maryland was the co-Big TEN Champion along with Michigan State & Wisconsin, as this game had all of the makings of a great one. The Bruins got off to a slow start, but rallied behind a 39-28 2nd half to shock the Terrapins in a 73-66 victory. Count my bracket busted as I had the Terps in the Final Four!
Moving along, 7-seed Houston got past 10-seed Oklahoma, 65-58, in the East Region, in a game that was in the single-digits all the way. The Cougars advance to take on Duke in the second round.
The next game of the day took us back to the wild & wacky South Region, and just when you thought that Region couldn't bust up the bracket anymore, we had 2-seed Michigan State in action against the 15-seed Winthrop Eagles in an excellent game. It was close the entire way, and just like in 2016 when Michigan State fell as a 2-seed in the opening round to Middle Tennessee State, they fall again to a 15-seed in the 1st round, as Winthrop hung-un in a 70-66 shocker. Izzo and the Spartans are headed home, wiping out two of the three Big TEN co-Champs in the first round!
Speaking of Big TEN co-Champions, the third of the conference's co-Champs was in action in the next game as 4-seed Wisconsin took on 13-seed Northern Kentucky in the Midwest Region. The Badgers avoided the fate of the Terps & Spartans, as they crusied past the Norse behind a classic, Wisconsin-style defensive effort, smothering NKU in a 70-42 rout.
Staying in the Big TEN, the 7-seed in the West, Penn State, took on 10-seed East Tennessee State in the next game. The Buccaneers had a terrific season and came into the game with a sparkling record of 30-4. I picked ETST to make a run, but hats-off to the Nittany Lions, as they erased a 7-point halftime deficit to knock off East Tenn. St., 78-74, and advance on in another great opening round game.
Yet another Big TEN team was in action in the next game of the day as 12-seed & play-in game winner, Indiana, was in action against the 5-seed in the South, West Virginia. Bob Huggins' Mountaineers struggled mightily with the Hoosiers in this one, as Indiana advanced on with surprising ease in an 86-66 victory.
We go to the East Region for the day's next game as 6-seed Auburn took on 11-seed Arizona State in what had all the makings to be another classic showdown. The Sun Devils and Tigers played a close game throughout, with ASU hitting a couple more shots down the stretch to prevail 72-67 and advance to take on 3-seed Kentucky. Auburn might have started the season 15-0, but they fail to progress out of the first round of the tournament.
The final 1-seed was in action in the next game as Dayton squared off with 16-seed Eastern Washington in the South Region. The Flyers "flew" past EWU, as they pulled away in the second half for a relatively easy 77-61 first round victory. Obi Toppin and company advance to take on USC in the 2nd Round.
The final game of the day and first round, also ended up being the most-lopsided of the tournament's opening two days. 4-seed Oregon took on 13-seed New Mexico State in the West Region to close out the opening round in a game that had potential going in. The Ducks dominated the Aggies from the get-go, however, and cruised in an absolute demolition, 91-51, to setup a 2nd Round matchup with 5-seed Ohio State.
That concludes the simulation results for my Official 2020 March Madness NCAA Tournament Bracket 1st round games. It was a heck of a second day to the tournament that provided plenty of close games, some incredible upsets, some expected outcomes, down-to-the-wire thrillers, and so on! I'm glad the simulation is having some fun with us - be sure to check back tomorrow as I continue the simulations and take us down to the Sweet 16. Out of the Round of 32, who do you like to advance to the Sweet 16?
I appreciate all of the support, and as always, would love to get your thoughts in the comments section below. I'll be back again tomorrow keeping March Madness alive the best I can in my own little way, providing the simulation results for all of the Round of 32 matchups, taking us down to the Sweet 16 as we continue our "march" to the Final Four & Championship!
Be sure to checkout today's video recapping the simulation results of day 2 of the opening round of my Official March Madness 2020 NCAA Tournament Bracket!:
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