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.

Houston reaches No. 1 in AP poll for first time since 1983

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Make some room, Phi Slama Jama. Another Houston team has reached the top of men’s college basketball.

Nearly four decades after Clyde Drexler and Akeem Olajuwon took the Cougars to No. 1, the latest bunch led by Marcus Sasser and star freshman Jarace Walker took over the top spot in the AP Top 25. They received 45 of 63 first-place votes from the national media panel, easily outdistancing second-place Texas and third-place Virginia.

“It’s not like we went online and applied for it and waited for a response back. We’ve been working for this,” said Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, whose team is coming off a Final Four and Elite Eight trip the past two seasons. “But remember, it’s a rental. You don’t own it. You’re just renting it because someday somebody else is going to be No. 1.”

North Carolina had been No. 1 all season, but the Tar Heels lost to Iowa State and in a four-overtime thriller to Alabama at the Phil Knight Invitational to cede the top spot to Houston, which beat Kent State in its only game last week.

The last time the Cougars ascended to No. 1 was the final poll of the 1982-83 season, when “The Glide” and “The Dream” along with coach Guy Lewis were the favorites to win it all. They rolled through the NCAA Tournament before falling to Jim Valvano and North Carolina State in an iconic championship game in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I’ve never been ranked No. 1,” said Sampson, now in his 34th season as a college basketball coach. “We were ranked all 12 years at Oklahoma. I’m sure we were ranked at Indiana. Then we’ve been ranked five or six straight years. We’re used to having a high level of success.”

Texas received eight first-place votes and Virginia received two. Arizona climbed from 14th to fourth after emerging from a stacked field to win the Maui Invitational. Purdue jumped from 24th all the way to fifth and scooped up eight first-place votes after beating West Virginia, Gonzaga and Duke at the Phil Knight Legacy tourney.

“Our guys are competitive. They’re fun to coach. They get along. They’re out there playing with purpose and that’s what you have to have,” said Boilermakers coach Matt Painter, whose team was briefly No. 1 about this time last season.

“Early in the season, very few teams play with the purpose collectively,” he said. “I thought our guys played with a purpose.”

Baylor was sixth, Creighton seventh and U Conn climbed from 20th to eighth after beating Oregon, Alabama and Iowa State to win the Phil Knight Invitational. Kansas fell from third to ninth after losing to Tennessee in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, while Indiana rounded out the top 10.

There was a tie for 11th between SEC rivals Alabama and Arkansas with the Volunteers, another conference foe, right behind them. Gonzaga dropped from sixth to 14th, its first time outside the top 10 since Feb. 5, 2018, and Auburn was 15th.

Illinois was next followed by Duke and North Carolina in a tough week for Tobacco Road. The Blue Devils fell from eighth after their 75-56 loss to the Boilermakers.

Kentucky and Michigan State joined UCLA, Maryland, Iowa State, San Diego State and Ohio State in rounding out the poll.


Purdue made a rare 19-spot jump as the poll underwent a massive shakeup. UConn climbed 12 spots, Arizona moved up 10, Tennessee climbed nine and Alabama seven. On the flip side, the Tar Heels tumbled 17 spots, Duke dropped nine, Gonzaga fell eight and San Diego State fell seven.


Despite all the movement, Iowa State was the only newcomer this week, checking in at No. 23 after beating Villanova and North Carolina before falling to UConn. The Cyclones replaced Iowa, which dropped out after a one-week stay following its loss to TCU in the title game of the Emerald Coast Classic.


There are six difference conferences represented in the first seven teams in the poll. The Big Ten leads the way with six in the Top 25 while the SEC has five and the Big 12 has four, though three of them are in the top 10.

South Carolina tops women’s AP Top 25; Stanford, UConn next

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South Carolina remained the unanimous No. 1 choice in The Associated Press women’s poll, as the Gamecocks keep close watch on the foot injury of reigning Player of the Year Aliyah Boston.

The Gamecocks received all 29 first-place votes in the poll, a day after Boston left a game with her injury. Coach Dawn Staley said Boston was “questionable” going forward but added that the “team doctor wasn’t too, too concerned.”

South Carolina’s next game is at home against No. 15 UCLA.

Stanford remained No. 2 after cruising through a tournament in Hawaii. It’s the 618th appearance for Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer, tying the late Pat Summitt for most all-time. Summitt’s teams only missed being in the poll 14 times during her Hall of Fame career at Tennessee.

UConn, Ohio State and Indiana rounded out the top five.

The Huskies are one of four Big East teams to be ranked this week as Marquette entered the poll at No. 24. It’s the first time the Big East has four ranked teams since the conference realigned in 2014. The league is 56-14 so far this season, including going 8-2 against ranked teams.

“We’ve been trying to earn a little more respect,” Marquette coach Megan Duffy said of the Big East. “Tried to schedule tougher non-conference (games). ‘Nova’s playing people. Us going to the Bahamas was great. Creighton’s doing what they’ve been doing since last season. Getting some of those quality wins is everything.”

North Carolina moved up two spots to No. 6 after rallying to beat then-No. 5 Iowa State in the Phil Knight tournament. The Cyclones fell to eighth.

The Tar Heels visit the Hoosiers on Tuesday in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Indiana returns home after winning two games in Las Vegas at a subpar venue that lacked basic necessities.

Notre Dame remained No. 7 while Virginia Tech and Iowa finished off the top 10. At No. 9, Virginia Tech has matched its best ranking ever and is in the top 10 for the first time since 1999.

Tennessee fell out of the poll this week marking the 56th time in the 827-week history of the poll that the Lady Vols weren’t ranked. Kansas State also fell out with Gonzaga moving in at No. 23.


Louisville dropped to 18th in the poll this week after falling to South Dakota State in the fifth place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis last week. It’s the Cardinals lowest ranking since Jan. 11, 2016.

Louisville entered the top 10 in the preseason poll in 2017 and hadn’t been out since, a span of 98 consecutive weeks. It was the longest active streak.

“It’s a compliment to the consistency that we built here,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said of being ranked in the top 10 for so long. “Obviously are goal would have been to stay in the top 10, but it’s a new team and growing.”

Edey scores 21 as No. 24 Purdue beats No. 8 Duke 75-56

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

PORTLAND, Ore. – Zach Edey and No. 24 Purdue shook off a slow start. When No. 8 Duke tried to rally in the second half, the Boilermakers finished strong.

Edey had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Purdue beat Duke 75-56 on Sunday in the championship game of the Phil Knight Legacy men’s tournament.

Fletcher Loyer scored 18 points for Purdue (6-0), and reserve Caleb Furst finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“I feel like we weren’t getting the looks we wanted early. As we settled into the game, we kept our poise and kept getting the shots that we wanted,” Edey said. “They were making some tough twos at the beginning of the game, shots we’re OK with all season.”

The 7-foot-4 Edey was 7 for 13 from the field and 7 for 8 at the line. He was named tournament MVP.

“They have the most unique player in the country,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said of Edey. “He’s a hard guy to prepare for because there’s nobody else like him.”

Duke (6-2) shot 36.2% (21 for 58) from the field. Tyres Proctor scored 16 points for the Blue Devils. Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach each had 14.

Ethan Morton had a steal and a dunk to help Purdue open a 58-41 lead with 15:37 left in the second half.

Duke countered with an 8-0 run, capped by two foul shots by Dariq Whitehead. But Furst made a layup and a jumper to help hold off the Blue Devils.

A hook by Edey and a 3-pointer by Loyer made it 68-56 with 5:03 remaining.

Duke got off to a 14-7 start before Purdue worked its way back into the game.

“I don’t feel like we came out bad today, but they matched our energy,” Edey said.

A 3-pointer by Brandon Newman pushed the Purdue lead to 46-28. A late run by Duke cut the Boilermakers’ lead to 46-35 at halftime.


Duke: It looked as if Roach had an issue with his left foot at one point, but he went back into the game. Scheyer said Roach had hurt his toe.

Purdue: Although neither team had great offensive games, Purdue was the better team from range. Purdue made seven 3-pointers to just two for Duke.


Duke: Hosts Ohio State on Wednesday.

Purdue: Visits Florida State on Wednesday.

No. 18 Alabama beats No. 1 North Carolina 103-101 in 4 OTs

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

PORTLAND, Ore. – Mark Sears had 24 points, five rebounds and five assists, and No. 18 Alabama sent top-ranked North Carolina to a second straight loss with a 103-101 victory in a quadruple-overtime thriller on Sunday in the third-place game of the Phil Knight Invitational tournament.

Jahvon Quinerly added 21 points off the bench for the Crimson Tide (6-1), who knocked off the top-ranked team for the first time since upsetting Stanford in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

“I was losing track of how many overtimes we were in there at the end,” Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats said. “A lot of credit to our guys. I thought they showed a lot of character when we could have folded.”

Charles Bediako had 14 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks, while Brandon Miller also scored 14 points.

Caleb Love led the Tar Heels (5-2) with 34 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals. Armando Bacot contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds, and R.J. Davis had 19 points and nine rebounds in the second four-overtime game in North Carolina history. The other was a victory over Tulane in 1976.

“At the end of the day, Alabama made one more play than we did,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said. “I walked in the locker room and a number of the guys had their head down and I told them to pick their head up. I’m just as disappointed (as the players) in terms of the final outcome, but I couldn’t be any more proud about the way they competed.”

Bediako gave the Crimson Tide the lead for good on a layup with 26 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime.

The Tar Heels, who lost to Iowa State in the semifinals, led by as much as eight in the second half before Alabama came back to tie it. The Crimson Tide retook the lead on a pair of free throws from Gurley with 2 minutes remaining, and later tied with another free throw from Sears with 51 seconds remaining in regulation.

Alabama starting forward Noah Clowney took a hard fall on a dunk attempt four minutes into the first half and had to be helped off the court. He did not return.

The Crimson Tide were 16 for 38 (42.1%) from 3-point range, with Sears making seven.


North Carolina: The Tar Heels figure to take a deep drop in the Top 25 poll.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide bounced back nicely following their loss to No. 20 UConn in the semifinals, beating a top-ranked team in the regular season for the first time since a 66-64 victory over eventual national champion Arkansas on Jan. 8, 1994.


North Carolina: The Tar Heels travel to Bloomington to face No. 11 Indiana on Wednesday.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide return home to face South Dakota State on Saturday.

Clingan lifts UConn past Iowa State for Phil Knight title

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

PORTLAND, Ore. – Donovan Clingan had 15 points and 10 rebounds to power No. 20 UConn to a 71-53 win over Iowa State in the championship game of the Phil Knight Invitational on Sunday night.

Tristen Newton scored 13 points for the Huskies (8-0), who went 20 for 25 at the free-throw line. Alex Karaban and Andre Jackson, Jr. each had 10 points.

Osun Osunniyi led Iowa State (5-1) with 14 points. Tamin Lipsey had 12 points and Jaren Holmes finished with 11.

“They were the more aggressive team,” Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “We wanted a physical game. We didn’t want a physical game with them getting the rebounds and then also us putting them on the foul line. Lesson that we’ve got to learn is we need to embrace being the aggressor at both ends of the floor at all times.”

The Huskies had more offensive rebounds (20) than the Cyclones had total rebounds (19), and capitalized on that disparity with 20 second-chance points.

“Those guys are tough,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “T.J.`s an excellent coach. They grind people up. To outrebound them, it just speaks to how tough we were.”

Clingan, who was named tournament MVP, scored eight points to help UConn to a 38-28 lead at the break.

Iowa State closed to 53-48 on Holmes’ 3-pointer midway through the second half. But Karaban made a 3 and a dunk, and Newton’s jumper made it 60-48 with 7:13 remaining.


UConn: The Huskies couldn’t have asked for a better showing in Portland, winning all three of their games.

Iowa State: The Cyclones picked up nice wins over Villanova and top-ranked North Carolina in the earlier rounds but ended with their first loss of the season.


UConn: The Huskies return home to face Oklahoma State on Thursday.

Iowa State: The Cyclones return home to face North Dakota on Tuesday.