College basketball fans were devastated when the NCAA announced the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament. While canceling it was the right move for public health, it does not mean it hurts any less. Then, the internet came up with a grand idea: simulate the tournament!
There have been plenty of simulations running since last week. From Joe Lunardi to Reddit, simulations are being played out through video games and websites. LWOS ran its own simulation using the simulator at What IF Sports. The bracket used was the final projection by LWOS’ resident bracketologists, which can be found here.
2020 NCAA Tournament Simulation
2020 NCAA Tournament First Four
The First Four in Dayton featured some conference champions as well as the last four teams in. In the matchups between the lowest 16 seeds, Prairie View A&M faced Boston University and Robert Morris took on North Carolina Central. Prairie View trounced Boston U. 81-56 behind Gerard Andrus’ 18 points. This is the Panthers’ first-ever tournament victory. Robert Morris defeated NC Central 69-51 behind a strong second-half effort to pull away.
In our first game between lucky bubble teams, NC State defeated Richmond 76-57. Markell Johnson had 13 points and 12 assists, helping the Wolfpack blow the game open in the second half against the Spiders. The other game saw Wichita State dispatch UCLA 92-81. Five Shockers scored in double figures in the victory. Wichita State will face BYU next while NC State will go on to play Butler.
2020 NCAA Tournament First Round
The Midwest Region was almost straightforward in its first-round results. Kansas, Duke, and Michigan State, the region’s top three seeds, coasted to victories. Vernon Carey had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Blue Devils, showing why he was a member of the AP All-American team. Fourth-seeded Villanova and fifth-seeded Ohio State held off pesky mid-majors in Akron and Vermont to advance.
Arizona State upset defending National Champion Virginia, pulling away over the last eight minutes to seal the 11-6 win. St. Mary’s beat Rutgers in the 8-9 matchup by pulling away late. In the other upset, Utah State defeated West Virginia in the 10-7 game. Sam Merrill scored 18 points to help the Aggies create separation over the last five minutes.
The East Region almost gave us a 16-1 upset! Dayton needed two overtimes to defeat Northern Kentucky 105-100. The Flyers hit buzzer-beaters at the end of regulation and the first overtime to avoid entering the history books. Two-seed Florida State also had to work to put away Winthrop in the second half. Three-seed Seton Hall handled Belmont easily.
13-seed North Texas pulled off the upset of Wisconsin, defeating the Badgers 72-59. The Mean Green held Wisconsin to just 22 second-half points and erased a 14-point halftime deficit to win. Auburn ended the game on 14-0 run to beat Liberty while Penn State handled Cincinnati. Indiana solidifies their inclusion in the field by upsetting Arizona in the 10-7 game. Finally, Houston needed overtime to defeat Texas Tech 89-80 in the 8-9 game. Quentin Grimes hit a late three to force the extra period for the Cougars.
UMBC has company! 16-seeded Prairie View A&M uses the momentum from winning in the First Four to shock Gonzaga 90-81. Even though the Bulldogs were only playing a few miles from campus, they are ousted in one that will live in the record books forever. That game was a sign of things to come in this region.
Iowa and Luka Garza were next on the upset list. The Hawkeyes lost to 12-seed Yale 85-71 as they could not overcome being down by 17 at halftime. The 11th-seeded NC State Wolfpack beat Butler on a Jericole Hellems jumper with 26 seconds left. The next-biggest result in the tournament came when 14-seed Hofstra upset Kentucky 85-69. The Pride never trailed in the second half, sending John Calipari and company home early. Marquette completed the upsets by defeating Michigan 90-87 in the 10-7 game. Markus Howard went off for 30 points.
All of this noise just sets up the bracket nicely for the higher seeds that did win. Two-seed San Diego State easily handled Eastern Washington. Four-seed Oregon defeated Stephen F. Austin by 11. Colorado held serve in the 8-9 matchup, surviving a late run by Oklahoma to win 84-81.
Baylor and Creighton, the region’s top-two seeds, pulled away in the second half for victories. Three-seed Louisville defeated Bradley easily. The big upset in this region was four-seed Maryland falling to New Mexico State. As has been Maryland’s calling card all year, they could not play a full game. The Terps blew an 18-point halftime lead and lost on a Trevelin Queen buzzer-beating three in the corner. Wichita State gave us a 12-5 upset when they defeated BYU 88-81 in overtime.
East Tennessee State gave us one more upset here. ETSU duo Isaiah Tisdale and Tray Boyd combined to score 46 points to pace the Bucs to a 14-point upset of six-seed Illinois. Florida needed overtime to overcome USC 81-78. Finally, LSU fended off Providence 87-83 in the 8-9 game behind 22 points from Darius Days and 20 points from Emmitt Williams.
2020 NCAA Tournament Second Round
In the next round, Kansas continues to show why they were the top seed, beating Saint Mary’s by 18 behind Devon Dotson’s 22 points. Ohio State scored 60 first-half points to help knock off Villanova. The Jayhawks and Buckeyes will meet in the Sweet 16.
Duke put the brakes on any Utah State magic early, cruising to a 25-point victory. Cassius Stanley led the Blue Devils with 23 points. Meanwhile, Arizona State stayed hot, upsetting Michigan State 87-82. The Spartans worked hard to try and erase a 20-point second-half deficit, but could not get over the hump. Remy Martin had 23 points and Rob Edwards had 22 points for the Sun Devils. This is the first Sweet 16 appearance for Arizona State in 25 years.
Dayton shook off the rust from their upset scare to dominate Houston 90-69. Obi Toppin and Trey Landers each had 19 points for the Flyers. North Texas appeared to be at it again, erasing another double-digit halftime deficit to force overtime against Auburn. However, the Tigers eked out a 107-103 victory in the extra period. Samir Doughty scored 30 for Auburn, who will face Dayton next.
Florida State used 20 points from M.J. Walker to defeat Indiana 83-70. The Seminoles pulled away in the last ten minutes. Penn State made a late push in the second half, but Seton Hall beat the Nittany Lions 91-83. Myles Powell scored 23 of his 30 points in the second half. Florida State and Seton Hall give us another great Sweet 16 matchup.
Prairie View’s magic runs out as Colorado puts the Panthers away late for a 73-60 win. This is the Buffaloes’ first Sweet 16 since the 1968-69 season. Oregon pulled away from Yale late for an 82-71 victory. First-team All-American Payton Pritchard had 24 points for the Ducks, who will play Pac 12 rival Colorado next.
Hofstra and NC State met in a game that assured a double-digit seed would make the Sweet 16. Hofstra blew a 15-point halftime lead to fall to the Wolfpack 88-81. NC State makes its first Sweet 16 appearance in five years. San Diego State almost blew a 19-point lead in the second half to hold on to beat Marquette 83-80. Markus Howard scored 37 in his final game for the Golden Eagles. NC State and San Diego State will face off in the Sweet 16.
Our second number-one seed falls! LSU pulled away from Baylor late to pull off the upset. Emmitt Williams stayed hot for the Tigers with 20 points. Wichita State defeated New Mexico State in a 12-13 matchup 74-65. The Shockers created space over the last ten minutes to go to their first Sweet 16 in five years.
East Tennessee State looked poised to coast into the Sweet 16 but blew a 14-point second-half advantage to lose in overtime to Louisville. Jordan Nwora had 27 for the Cardinals. Meanwhile, Creighton owned the last 12 minutes against Florida to win 87-68. The Bluejays are advancing to their first Sweet 16 in 46 years, taking on Louisville.
2020 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16
Kansas got more of a test in this round from Ohio State. However, the Jayhawks were a perfect 6-6 from the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds to win 88-79. Kansas is making its fourth Elite Eight appearance in five years. The other game in this region was a classic. Duke erased an eight-point deficit with 43 seconds remaining in regulation before defeating Arizona State 117-108 in overtime. Duke and Kansas will rematch, this time with a spot to the Final Four on the line.
In our first game, Auburn hung around but Dayton was in front for the game’s final 32 minutes to win 78-68. The Flyers are back in the Elite Eight for the first time in six years. The second game in this region saw Seton Hall blow a 14-point lead with ten minutes remaining in the game. Florida State’s huge push allowed them to overcome the Pirates 92-83. The Seminoles are back in the Elite Eight for the second time in three years.
In a rubber match between Oregon and Colorado, the Ducks prevailed 68-64. Oregon erased a nine-point deficit to surge back for the victory. In the other game, San Diego State ground out a 72-68 over NC State. Yanni Wetzell had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Aztecs, who are making their first Elite Eight appearance ever when they face Oregon.
In a rare 9-12 game, LSU used a late run to defeat Wichita State 89-72. Ja’Vonte Smart had 23 points for the Tigers, who are making their first Elite Eight appearance in 14 years. In the other half of this bracket, Creighton dominates Louisville 90-73. This is the Bluejays first Elite Eight appearance in school history.
2020 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight
The Champions Classic rematch between Duke and Kansas belonged to the Blue Devils once again. Duke never trailed in the game but had to fend off numerous Jayhawk comeback attempts before prevailing 94-83. Vernon Carey was a monster again, scoring 26 points and propelling the Blue Devils to the Final Four.
Dayton and Florida State went back and forth for most of the game. However, the final two minutes belonged to the Flyers, pulling away for an 89-80 victory. Jalen Crutcher and Ibi Watson each had 16 points for Dayton. The Flyers are back in the Final Four for the first time since the 1966-67 season.
San Diego State’s stifling defense came to play against Oregon. The Aztecs kept the Ducks in check to cruise to a 77-57 win. 60 of San Diego State’s points came from their starting lineup. The Aztecs are making their first-ever Final Four appearance.
Creighton and LSU gave America an instant classic in this Elite Eight matchup. Skylar Mays hit a three-point shot for LSU with 11 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. Darius Days missed a would-be game-tying shot at the buzzer in the extra period, giving Creighton a 99-96 victory. Ty-Shon Alexander scored 28 points to lead the Bluejays to their first Final Four.
The first National Semifinal featured Dayton, the only remaining one-seed, and Duke. Dayton built up a 16-point cushion in the second half that the Blue Devils just could not overcome. The Flyers advance to their second National Championship Game in school history, defeating Duke 88-80. Jalen Crutcher had 24 points for Dayton.
The second Final Four matchup featured a pair of two-seeds in San Diego State and Creighton. The Aztecs hung tough, but their offense goes cold for the last 12 minutes as the Bluejays pull away for an 86-72 win. Ty-Shon Alexander continued his hot spell, scoring 20 points and taking Creighton to their first National Title Game.
In the penultimate game, Dayton and Creighton square off for the NCAA’s ultimate basketball prize. The Flyers showed they were legitimate by getting here, while the Bluejays carried their February hot streak all the way into April. Creighton jumped ahead early and held an advantage for most of the game. Dayton made a late push but it just was not enough. The Bluejays cement themselves in basketball history, winning the title 83-74. Ty-Shon Alexander scored 22 more points on his way to being named Most Valuable Player.
The Creighton Bluejays are your LWOS 2020 NCAA Tournament Champions!