Decades ago, when the 2019-2020 college basketball season was still raging on, it was one of the craziest years we’d ever seen in the sport. We were very close to having three teams from outside of the power conferences as No. 1 teams in the NCAA Tournament. Ultimately, per Joe Lunardi, we would’ve wound up with two.
In his final bracket, published following the cancellation of the Tournament, Kansas was set to be the No. 1 overall seed. Conference mate Baylor also landed on the top line, along with small conference power Gonzaga and upstart Dayton led by player of the year hopeful Obi Toppin. Kentucky, Florida State, Creighton, and San Diego State finished as No. 2 seeds.
March Madness promised to be an all-time crazy event, based on how the regular season went. Unfortunately, we’ll never really know. ESPN decided to have some fun this week, and take a swing at it. Thankfully, it has the Basketball Power Index available to see one possible permutation.
Using the computer model, BPI simulated every game at exactly one time. Given the crazy, one-off nature of the Tournament, this seems the best way to go. Ultimately, it would have been a pretty wild ride. Here’s how things shook out:
We ran a single BPI sim of the NCAA tournament that never was.
Here’s the story of Simulation 2020: https://t.co/pI5caM97QR
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) March 18, 2020
A staple of the NCAA Tournament is double-digit seeds getting hot and making a run. Here’s how ESPN’s sim shook out in this regard:
No. 12 Liberty over No. 5 Auburn (Midwest)
No. 14 Hofstra over No. 3 Villanova (East)
No. 12 Yale over No. 5 Michigan (West)
No. 10 Texas Tech over No. 6 Arizona (West)
No. 14 Bradley over No. 3 Michigan State (South)
No. 10 USC over No. 7 Illinois (South)
It probably wouldn’t be the craziest first round we’ve ever seen, but two No. 14 seeds winning. That features a Hofstra shocker over recent national champion Villanova, and another early ouster of Michigan State at the hands of Bradley.
Things consider down that path in the second round:
No. 9 Marquette over No. 1 Kansas (Midwest)
No. 7 Providence over No. 2 Kentucky (Midwest)
No. 7 West Virginia over No. 2 Florida State (East)
No. 12 Yale over No. 4 Oregon (West)
No. 6 BYU over No. 2 San Diego State (West)
No. 6 Virginia over No. 2 Creighton (South)
No. 8 Saint Mary’s over No. 1 Baylor (South)
The projection continues to be pretty rough for the top seeds. Maryland takes down Dayton and Yale stuns Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. We wind up with a Final Four that might look somewhat familiar in terms of the names on the jerseys, if not the types of seed matchups that you usually see.
No. 4 Wisconsin over No. 4 Maryland
No. 6 BYU over No. 6 Virginia
I’m going to go ahead and guess that most of us wouldn’t have had Wisconsin making its run, at long last, this year. BYU is a really fun team, but a national championship berth going through the likes of Indiana, Seton Hall, San Diego State, upstart Baylor, and defending national champ Virginia? That would be impressive.
In the end, this projection has the Wisconsin Badgers winning the title. Oh what could have been.
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