How the tournament would have looked, according to Math And Science
There will be no NCAA Tournament in 2020. I’ve said that to myself a dozen times in the last 24 hours and it still hasn’t really sunk in. No more Sabrina Ionescu. No more Obi Toppin. No more “Hello, friends!” No more Adam Amin hysteria.
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It was the right call, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept.
Conference tournaments were canceled halfway through and the NCAA Tournament bracket still had dozens of questions that needed answering. With so much time and so little to do, I set to work doing what any reasonable person would: simulating conference tournaments and constructing an NCAA Tournament bracket based on the results.
Here’s what I came up with:
I used my up-to-date seed list, as of Thursday morning before the cancelations started happening. From there, I took the results still-to-be-determined and simulated every last one of them. Using the existing conference tournament matchups, I found RealTimeRPI’s win probabilities for each game. Then, I determined the result using a random number generator. For example, if RealTimeRPI said that Baylor had a 78 percent chance of winning a game, I generated a number 1-100, with 1-78 being a Baylor win and 79-100 being a loss.
I advanced the brackets accordingly until each remaining conference had a champion. Then, I adjusted the seed list to reflect the simulated results. When that was all done, I bracketed as normal. Pretty straightforward! The staff here at High Post Hoops will do the hard part, which is figuring out who would win each individual game of the tournament.
- The top four seed lines all stayed the same. The Big 12 was the only major tournament remaining, so there was hardly any movement up top. The biggest names in this bracket are where you remember them from our last projection.
- We only had one more bid thief: UTEP, which made a miraculous run through the fake Conference USA Tournament. The Miners beat Old Dominion and Western Kentucky along the way, which boosted the sub-200 RPI team to a 14 seed.
- Drexel beat James Madison in the CAA Championship game, ensuring its bid. The Dragons may have been safe anyway, but could probably have only afforded to lose to the Dukes in the title game to keep a bid.
- West Virginia beat Texas and TCU in the Big 12 tournament, but it was not enough to secure a spot in the tournament. The Mountaineers finished in the First Four Out, as the Big 12 just didn’t have the heft to lift them into the field without a win over Baylor.
- Two teams with losing records ended up winning their conference tournaments: Cal Poly and Seattle.
Have you ever known our editor, Howard Megdal, to not go all-out to the point of insanity on a project like this? No, you have not. So naturally he’s tapped some of the brightest minds in basketball to opine about this tournament. You’ll hear from a bunch of them along the way, but for now, Atlanta Dream coach Nicki Collen shared her thoughts.
A few rapid-fire bits from Collen:
- Collen loved the FGCU vs. Creighton matchup on the 7-10 line, calling them “two high-octane motion offense teams.” Both ranked in the top 50 nationally in ORtg, while FGCU ranked first in three-point rate and Creighton fifth, per HerHoopStats.
- Collen’s upset pick: Western Kentucky over Ohio State. She feels the Hilltoppers’ high ball screen execution and inside-out balance would give the Buckeyes fits.
- The 8-9 games are always dog-fights, but Arkansas vs. Michigan stood out to Collen specifically. Her big questions: Could Michigan contain Arkansas’ shooters? And could Arkansas keep Naz Hillmon off the glass?
- Iowa State just barely snuck into this field thanks to a senior night win over Baylor and a simulated first-round. Big 12 Tournament win over Kansas State. Collen would project one more win of the Cyclones in a low-scoring matchup with LSU.
More bracket analysis to come, but remember: crazy things happen in March S[imulated]adness. The experts may study this more, but your guess is as good as theirs sometimes. What’s your big upset pick? Who’s winning the national championship from this field? Let us know.
Games begin next week, here in the March S[imulation]adness world.
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