Welcome back everyone and a happy Sunday! Last weekend I released my Official 2020 March Madness NCAA Tournament Bracket exactly how it would have been had the tournament proceeded as originally planned. In lieu of the cancellation of the "Big Dance", I decided I would simulate the tournament using my official bracket, taking us all the way down to the Final Four & Championship.
Day 1 of the March Madness simulations tipped-off on Thursday, and provided plenty of great games to get things going. Friday completed the opening round games with a bang as several big upsets highlighted day 2 of the first round. I'm back with Saturday's & today's simulation results to the 2nd Round matchups, taking us down to the Sweet 16!
The opening round provided plenty of fireworks, and just as it seemed as though the Round of 32 may end up with rather routine results, the simulation once again threw us some surprising curveballs. Get ready, it was one heck of a 2nd Round as went from 32 to 16, here we go!:
The opening game of the Round of 32 featured top overall seed Kansas in action against 9-seed Rutgers in the Midwest Region. The Jayhawks proved far too much for the Scarlett Knights, jumping out to a 41-20 halftime lead in a 63-48 victory.
The next game of the weekend pitted a pair of teams that scored upsets in the opening round. 10-seed Utah State took down Michigan & 15-seed Winthrop shocked Michigan State. The Eagles failed to join 2013 Florida Gulf Coast as the only other 15-seed to reach the Sweet 16, however, as they fall to the Aggies in a game that was never really in doubt from the get-go.
After a pair of expected outcomes got the Round of 32 going, the third game provided the first 'upset' of the 2nd Round. 6-seed Arizona handled Richmond with ease in the opening round, but found themselves down 3, 44-41, to 3-seed Seton Hall at halftime of their 2nd Round showdown. A furious 2nd half from the Wildcats, however, allowed them to bury the Pirates by 14 and punch their ticket to the Sweet 16.
The next game of the day could very well prove to be the best of the tournament as the top seed in the East, Baylor and 9-seed & fellow Big XII foe Texas Tech squared off. The Bears cruised out to an easy 14-point halftime lead, only to see the Red Raiders come storming back in the 2nd half. They chipped away at the lead and then completed the comeback in dramatic fashion, draining a 3 at the buzzer to win it by a single point, 80-79, and make Baylor the first 1-seed to get bounced from the tournament.
We stay in the East Region for the next game, as #2-seed Duke squared off with 7-seed Houston. Unlike the previous game, this one was never in doubt as the Blue Devils coasted to a 20-point victory, and a spot in the Sweet 16.
After a bit of chalk with Duke's easy W, the next game of the day took us to the West Region and a showdown between the 6-seed Fighting Illini of Illinois, and 14-seed Boston U, who managed to shock Villanova in the opening round. Just as they did against Nova, the Terriers outscored the Illini, 38-30, in the second half to rally past Illinois for another shocking victory, and an improbable spot in the Sweet 16!
The second-to-last game of the first half of round of 32 matchups featured the 4-seed in the East, Louisville, taking on 12-seed Yale, fresh off of their domination of Butler. The Cardinals jumped out to a 10-point halftime lead and were able to keep the Bulldogs at bay in the 2nd half as they advanced with an 83-77 victory.
The final game of the Saturday slate was expected to be a great showdown between the 2-seed in the Midwest, Florida State, and the 10-seed, Marquette. The Seminoles absolutely destroyed the Golden Eagles, however, in one of the more impressive efforts of the tournament thus far, 95-63, & punch their ticket to the Sweet 16 in emphatic fashion.
The next game of the round of 32 had the #3 seed in the South, Creighton, on upset alert heading in, but the Blue Jays came out with a much better effort than in their opening game against Bradley. They used a dominant 2nd half effort to pull away from 11-seed UCLA in a surprisingly easy 24-point victory.
12-seed Indiana was in action against 13-seed Belmont in the next game of the 2nd round. The Hoosiers dominated West Virginia by 20 after getting past Xavier in one of the play-in games, while the Bruins shocked 4-seed Maryland in the opening round. In a great game, the Hoosiers use a gritty defensive performance to gut-out a 61-56 victory and advance to the Sweet 16.
We had our third #1 seed in action in the next game of the 2nd round. Gonzaga was hoping to avoid the fate of Baylor, and instead join Kansas as #1 seeds to advance to the Sweet 16, but the Zags ran into a buzzsaw in the name of 8-seed Colorado. The Buffaloes turned a back-and-forth affair into a shocking rout by walloping the Bulldogs 43-18 in the second half, to advance on with the 83-59 upset. The Zags lead by 1 at the half, but went ice cold in the second half. I definitely did not forsee Colorado's unlikely run!
We head to the Midwest Region for our next game, a 4 vs 5 matchup between Wisconsin & BYU. The Badgers led all the way, and once again used a stifling defensive effort to put the clamps on the Cougars in a 63-50 victory. UW moves on to the Sweet 16 & a date with top overall seed Kansas.
We head back to the West Region for the next game, as 7-seed Penn State squared off with 2-seed San Diego State. The Aztecs led for the majority of the first half, but squandered the lead away in the closing moments, and instead headed into the locker room down 1 at the half. The Nittany Lions then used a second half surge to put the Aztecs away, 75-64, and advance to the Sweet 16 in a game that was a bit of a surprise.
The final #1 seed was in action in the next game, as the top seed in the South, Dayton, took on 9-seed USC. The Flyers were able maintain a somewhat comfortable 4-8 point cushion throughout the majority of the game in a 10-point victory to move along to the Sweet 16 and a showdown with Indiana.
Our second-to-last game of the Round of 32 featured the 3-seed in the East, Kentucky, and 11-seed Arizona State. The Wildcats proved to be far too much for the Sun Devils to handle in this one, as John Calipari and the boys cruised to a 77-52 blowout victory.
That brings us to the final game of the 2nd Round, as 5-seed Ohio State took on 4-seed Oregon out in the West Region. The Buckeyes started the game strong, but ran out of steam down the stretch as Oregon ended the game on an 11-2 run in the closing minutes. The Ducks punch the final ticket to the Sweet 16 in a game that was much closer throughout than what the final score might indicate.
Well, there you have it, the Round of 32 is now in the books in my Official 2020 March Madness NCAA Tournament Bracket simulation. The simulation continues to have some fun with us, throwing in a few surprise upsets here & there, and has left us with an intriguing Sweet 16. Two of the 1-seeds are gone, a 14-seed & 12-seed are still alive, and we have a huge matchup between traditional blue bloods Duke & Kentucky to look forward to.
I hope you all are enjoying the simulation as much as I am - I'll be back again tomorrow keeping March Madness alive the best I can, simulating the Sweet 16 and providing the results as we take the field all the way down to the Elite 8!
As always, I appreciate the support & would love to get your thoughts in the comments section below. Who do you like to advance to the Elite 8?
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