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March S[imulation]adness: South Carolina crowned virtual champions

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In the end, there could only be one winner

[Please enjoy our March S[imulation]adness content. For more about this project, check out our explainer post.]

While our March S[imulation]adness tournament produced plenty of surprises early on — notably, an Old Dominion trip to the Sweet 16, a Bella Alarie-Princeton run, and much more — by the Final Four, the simulator reflected what many observers felt about this season’s teams: that the four top seeds in the field were stronger than the rest.

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Accordingly, the simulator served as more than just someone clicking on a simulator and then clicking on a random number generator to add randomness to the outcome.

It is nothing less than a definitive talking point for fan bases to use until the end of time.

So a heavy sense of responsibility powered my mouse as I clicked through the simulations here in the Final Four, and I bring you the results with a heavy sense of consequence.

In the first Final Four semifinal, Aliyah Boston reminded everyone why she is atop current 2023 WNBA Mock Draft boards, scoring 19 points and adding 11 rebounds in South Carolina’s 75-58 win over Maryland, ending the Terrapins’ dream season, and 21-game win streak, in the national semifinal in New Orleans.

In the second semifinal, Satou Sabally gave Oregon fans one more performance to remember, busting Baylor’s efforts to repeat as champions with five threes and 19 points in a 79-62 win over the Lady Bears.

And in the championship game, Ty Harris went out on a high note, scoring 15 and adding seven assists in a game the Gamecocks pulled away late, winning Dawn Staley a second national title, 76-64.

“Sometimes fiction does actually mimic reality!”, an excited Staley said after cutting down the virtual nets in the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, sitting at the pretend podium following the simulated victory. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we had the best team and have the best FAMs in the country.  This win is the result of hard work, team work and perseverance.   I’m proud of our players, proud of our coaches and proud of our staff. To God Be the Glory!”

Despite the loss, Oregon has a remarkable season, and with a top-flight recruiting class coming in next year, Kelly Graves’ second straight Final Four is far from his last.

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