Simulating the 2020 NCAA Tournament: Who would be the real national champion?


So here’s what happened.

I was bored on Monday night.

Bored, trapped in my house and wondering how in the world I was going to survive without college basketball and the NCAA tournament, so I decided to make one of my own.

Using the most recent bracket projection from our Dave Ommen to put together the field and something called NCAA Game Sim, I played out the entire NCAA tournament.

All 68 teams.

All 67 games.

All the madness, all the upsets, everything that we are all missing right now.

Let’s dive into it.

Programming note: I’ll be posting the bracket as it looks after every single round. If you’re interested in who played well, the box score for every game is linked.

Cue the music.


11. Texas 72, 11. Xavier 60
16. Robert Morris 72, 16. NC-Central 64
16. Siena 70, 16. Prairie View A&M 65
11. N.C. State 76, 11. Texas Tech 75



1. Dayton 82, 16. Winthrop 60
8. LSU 68, 9. Arizona State 60
5. Butler 75, 12. Liberty 65
4. Maryland 63, 13. Yale 56
6. West Virginia 83, 11. UCLA 68
3. Duke 90, 14. Hofstra 66
7. Michigan 75, 10. Florida 60
15. Northern Kentucky 69, 2. Villanova 64

Things went pretty smoothly in the East Region on the first day of the tournament until the final game, when No. 15 seed Northern Kentucky added to Villanova’s long legacy of winning national titles or getting upset in the first weekend. Jalen Tate led the way with 16 points for the Norse.


1. Kansas 87, 16. Robert Morris 54
8. Saint Mary’s 87, 9. Houston 73
5. BYU 74, 12. Stephen F. Austin 63
4. Louisville 62, 13. Vermont 60
6. Iowa 85, 11. N.C. State 55
3. Kentucky 83, 14. Bradley 65
7. Illinois 68, 10. Utah State 67
2. Creighton 67, UC Irvine 66

The Midwest Region had all of the action in the first round, as three games were decided by a single possession. Vermont came within a missed Everett Duncan three of upsetting No. 4-seed Louisville while Creighton’s Denzel Mahoney hit a jumper at the buzzer to avoid becoming the second No. 2-seed to lose in the first round. Illinois and Utah State were decided by a single point, but that was thanks to a late Brody Miller three that did nothing but make sure that the Aggies covered the spread.


1. Baylor 62, 16. Boston U. 57
9. Indiana 71, 8. USC 70
12. Cincinnati 72, 5. Auburn 68
13. North Texas 77, 4. Wisconsin 76
6. Penn State 73, 11. Texas 68
3. Seton Hall 84, 14. Belmont 60
10. Rutgers 63, 7. Providence 47
2. Florida State 83, 15. North Dakota State 71

More upsets and more buzzer-beaters thanks to the South Region. No. 9-seed Indiana got to the second round of the tournament thanks to a game-winning bucker from Damezi Anderson while Thomas Bell his a shot to put No. 13-seed North Texas ahead of No. 4-seed Wisconsin. Brad Davison missed the would-be game-winner.


1. Gonzaga 83, 16. Siena 51
9. Oklahoma 77, 8. Colorado 72
5. Ohio State 80, 12. Akron 58
4. Oregon 88, 13. New Mexico State 58
6. Virginia 72, 11. East Tennessee State 60
3. Michigan State 90, 14. Little Rock 64
10. Marquette 76, 7. Arizona 63
2. San Diego State 74, 15. Eastern Washington 66

Nothing all that crazy happened in the West Region in the first round. Markus Howard scored 26 points to get the Golden Eagles past No. 7-seed Arizona in the opening round, but that was the biggest upset out west.



1. Dayton 77, 8. LSU 72
5. Butler 65, 4. Maryland 62
6. West Virginia 86, 3. Duke 70
7. Michigan 87, 15. Northern Kentucky 49

Dayton was the only top four seed to get to the second weekend in the East. The Flyers held off LSU, but things got weird elsewhere. Miles McBride scored 19 points to lead No. 6-seed West Virginia past No. 3-seed Duke while Bryce Nze’s 16 points and 10 boards were enough to get the Bulldogs past No. 4-seed Maryland.


1. Kansas 79, 8. Saint Mary’s 66
4. Louisville 79, 5. BYU 72
6. Iowa 86, 3. Kentucky 74
7. Illinois 86, 2. Creighton 72

Luka Garza and Joe Weiskamp combined for 45 points as the No. 6-seed Hawkeyes steamrolled No. 3-seed Kentucky in the second round, but they were bested by Ayo Dosunmu (22 points, six assists, six boards) and Kofi Cockburn (21 points, 16 boards) as they blew past No. 2-seed Creighton.


1. Baylor 78, 9. Indiana 48
12. Cincinnati 63, 13. North Texas 56
6. Penn State 82, 3. Seton Hall 68
2. Florida State 68, 10. Rutgers 62

Cincinnati won the battle of the double-digit seeds to become the “Cinderella” No. 12-seed in the Sweet 16 while Penn State’s win over No. 3-seed Seton Hall ensured that there would be a Big Ten team in the Sweet 16 in each and every region.


9. Oklahoma 89, 1. Gonzaga 71
5. Ohio State 91, 4. Oregon 66
3. Michigan State 68, 6. Virginia 51
10. Marquette 66, 2. San Diego State 61

Six Big Ten teams made it out of the first weekend in total after No. 5-seed Ohio State blew out Oregon and No. 3-seed Michigan State advanced past Virginia, but that was the most normal past of the West Region’s second round. Kristian Doolittle went for 30 points as No. 9-seed Oklahoma upset No. 1-seed Gonzaga and Markus Howard added 21 points as the Golden Eagles held Malachi Flynn to a 2-for-11 shooting performance in a win over the No. 2-seed, San Diego State.



1. Dayton 71, 5. Butler 68
7. Michigan 59, 6. West Virginia 50

Eli Brooks, who averaged 19 points through the first two games of the tournament, was once again Michigan’s leading scorer with all of nine points as the Wolverines advanced to the Elite Eight with a win over West Virginia. On the other side of the bracket, Obi Toppin’s 17-point afternoon sent the Flyers to the Elite Eight over No. 5-seed Butler.


1. Kansas 79, 4. Louisville 64
7. Illinois 74, 6. Iowa 55

Devon Dotson continued his torrid tournament by putting up 23 points in a win over No. 4-seed Louisville. Ochai Agbaji added 19 points as Udoka Azubuike struggled with Louisville’s size. In a battle of Big Ten teams, Giorgi Bezhanishvili and Kofi Cockburn got the best of Luka Garza, holding him to eight points on 3-for-10 shooting as the Illini reached the Elite Eight.


1. Baylor 58, 12. Cincinnati 54
2. Florida State 85, 6. Penn State 77

Scott Drew made it back to the Elite Eight for the third time in his career by knocking off Cincinnati, and he’ll take on No. 2-seed Florida State, who ran past No. 6-seed Penn State to get back to the Elite Eight. Someone from the South Region is going to get to their first Final Four this year.


9. Oklahoma 66, 5. Ohio State 53
3. Michigan State 75, 10. Marquette 71

Rocket Watts had 19 points to lead No. 3-seed Michigan State as Markus Howard outdueled Cassius Winston but still came up short as the Wolverines beat Marquette. Kristian Doolittle didn’t slow down a bit in the Sweet 16, going for 18 points as the No. 9-seed Sooners advanced to within a game of the Final Four.


7. Michigan 72, 1. Dayton 67
1. Kansas 64, 7. Illinois 60
1. Baylor 71, 2. Florida State 61
3. Michigan State 76, Oklahoma 56

Isaiah Livers finished with 16 points, Zavier Simpson added 15 points and Franz Wagner went for 13 points and 12 boards as the Wolverines, the No. 7-seed in the East Region picked off No. 1-seed Dayton, ending a dream season for the Flyers.

Meanwhile, in the Midwest, Udoka Azubuike had his best game of the tournament to date, finishing with 14 points and eight boards as Bill Self beat his old program, No. 7-seed Illinois, to get back to the Final Four.

Baylor put four players in double-figures as they advanced to the Final Four for the first time in program history. Freddie Gillispie led the way with 12 points and 14 boards for the Bears.

And in the West, Brady Manek went for 27 points, but Xavier Tillman shut down Kristian Doolittle and Cassius Winston went for 21 points and five assists as the No. 3-seed Spartans got to the Final Four.


1. Kansas 73, 7. Michigan 66
3. Michigan State 72, 1. Baylor 71

In the first game at the Final Four, Devon Dotson and Marcus Garrett combined for 32 points and eight assists as the No. 1-seed Jayhawks ended No. 7-seed Michigan’s dream season. It’s the third time Bill Self has been to a national title game.

Meanwhile on the other side of the bracket, we had a thriller. Michigan State blew a late seven-point lead but Freddie Gillispie missed the would-be game-winning shot at the buzzer. Cassius Winston had 16 points and nine assists in the win.


1. Kansas 77, 3. Michigan State 61

In what was billed as one of the most anticipated National Title games in recent memory, Devon Dotson ended up outplaying Cassius Winston — 21 points and five assists to 13 points and three assists — as the Jayhawks finished off a dream season. I hope they enjoyed it. This may be the last time that we’ll see them in postseason play for a long time.

So here it is.

The full, complete 2020 NCAA Tournament, with your national champions: The Kansas Jayhawks.

Here’s to hoping Snoop Dogg is invited to the parade.

NCAA tweaks rules on block/charge calls in men’s basketball

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INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA is tweaking how block/charge calls are made in men’s basketball.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved rule changes on Thursday that require a defender to be in position to draw a charge at the time the offensive player plants a foot to go airborne for a shot. If the defender arrives after the player has planted a foot, officials have been instructed to call a block when there’s contact.

Defenders had to be in position to draw a charge before the offensive player went airborne under previous rules.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee members made the proposal after NCAA members complained that too many charges were being called on those types of plays.

The panel also approved reviews of basket interference calls during the next media timeout – if the official called it on the floor – a shot clock reset to 20 seconds on an offensive rebound that hits the rim, and players being allowed to wear any number between 0 and 99.

A timeout also will be granted to an airborne player with possession of the ball, and non-student bench personnel will be allowed to serve as peacekeepers on the floor if an altercation occurs.

Charlotte head coach Ron Sanchez resigns after winning CBI title

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ron Sanchez resigned as head coach of the Charlotte 49ers.

Sanchez took over the 49ers on March 19, 2018, inheriting a team coming off a 6-23 campaign. In five years Charlotte went 72-78 under Sanchez, highlighted by winning the College Basketball Invitational championship this past season, the Niners’ first post-season tournament title in school history.

The 22 wins this past season are the most for Charlotte since 2001.

“Ron took over a proud but struggling program and carefully rebuilt it into a 22-game winner. He has led with class, dignity and devotion to our young men,” Charlotte director of athletics Mike Hill said. “His decision to step down from Charlotte was a difficult one for him and everyone associated with our program. We wish him and his family every happiness.”

Hill said the team has already begun a national search for a replacement.

“This is a bittersweet day for me and my family as I step down to pursue other opportunities,” said Sanchez, who came the 49ers after working as an assistant coach at Virginia under Tony Bennett. “It has been a tremendous privilege to lead the 49ers basketball program over the past five years and I want to thank Niner Nation for its support. I will be forever grateful to my staff, players and the university.”

Marquette extends Shaka Smart’s contract through 2029-30 season

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MILWAUKEE — Marquette coach Shaka Smart has received a contract extension after leading the Golden Eagles to their first outright regular-season championship and tournament title in the Big East.

Smart’s contract now runs through the 2029-30 season. This is the first extension Smart has received since signing a six-year deal when he took over as Marquette’s coach in 2021.

Marquette didn’t release financial terms of Smart’s deal.

“In a very short period of time, Shaka and his staff have done a tremendous job of establishing a winning culture, both on and off the court,” athletic director Bill Scholl said in a statement. “Shaka’s vision for the program is focused on extended, sustainable success. The individuals who interact with the team on a daily basis are able to observe frequent examples of growth and the excitement around the program is contagious.”

Marquette has gone 48-20 in Smart’s two seasons and reached the NCAA Tournament each of those years.

The Golden Eagles went 29-7 and won the Big East’s regular-season and tournament championships last season after the league’s coaches had picked them to finish ninth out of 11 teams. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

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Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.


TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.


KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.