Photo by J Squared Hoops
March Madness turned into March Sadness really quickly.
COVID-19 has all but destroyed the sports world. And while we were waiting for the buzzer beaters, blowouts, and upsets of March, a single virus had other plans.
Well, the Internet doesn’t stop for a virus (a biological one, at least). And we’ve partnered with NCAA GameSim to bring YOU a March Madness experience. It’s nothing like watching the real thing. But heck, we’ll try.
NCAA GameSim takes all factors into account: experience, location, hot and cold shooting nights, injuries, and the craziness of March to make the most accurate predictions possible.
How did we decide who is where, though? We used USA Today/For the Win’s predicted bracket:
So let’s get to it. Here is J Squared Hoops’ NCAA Tournament 1st Round, Eastern Division.
First Round - East
1 Dayton vs. 16 Winthrop
DAYTON: 81, WINTHROP: 54
Surprisingly, this wasn’t Naismith Player of the Year Obi Toppin’s night. He finished this game with 13 points and 6 rebs. Jalen Crutcher, however, had a much better night. 17 points and 2 steals led the way for the Flyers as they knocked Winthrop out of the tournament. Hunter Hale was nowhere to be seen for Winthrop, and while role player Russell Jones hit three 3-pointers to lead Winthrop. Dayton moves on as tournament favorites.
8 Oklahoma vs. 9 Arizona State
OKLAHOMA: 65, ARIZONA STATE: 58
This match up is more a less a “who gets to lose to Dayton” match up. And, well, the Sooners take that title. Sharpshooting forward Brady Manek exploded for 23 points for Oklahoma, with three 3-pointers and 7 rebounds to add, and PPG leader Kristian Doolittle added 10 points and 10 rebounds. On the Sun Devils side, guard Alonzo Verge Jr. stole the spotlight from team leader Remy Martin by dropping 17 points, while Martin only contributed 13. We can only hope the Sun Devils can do better next year with new recruit Josh Christopher and transfer Luther Mohammad. But for now, they’ll have to watch Oklahoma move to the Round of 32.
5 Butler vs. 12 Liberty
BUTLER: 86, LIBERTY: 66
Although Liberty was able to be the 5-seed killer in 2019, 2020 just wasn’t their year. And that’s because they ran directly into a freight train called Kamar Baldwin. Butler’s leader all year, Baldwin dropped 25/5/4 in the big win. And although Liberty’s Caleb Homesley had his own 26/4/6 game, overall, his poor shooting Liberty just couldn’t handle the depth of Butler. Butler sees the 2nd round!
4 Maryland vs. 13 Akron
MARYLAND: 74, AKRON: 69
This game was Maryland’s to lose. And it looked like they were going to for a while. A balance scoring effort between Aaron Wiggins, Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith (combined for 46) was almost out shined by Loren Jackson and Tyler Cheese combined eight 3-pointers. Akron put it all on display, but the Tarpins will live to see another day. If this performance is indicative of any future games, who knows if they’ll be able to slip by Butler.
6 Iowa vs. 11 Wichita State
IOWA: 82, WICHITA STATE: 66
Luka Garza came out to kill in the first round. But so did his teammate, Joe Wieskamp! The two combined for 47 (24 for Garza, 23 for Wieskamp) and 21 rebounds. Their inside-out game absolutely destroyed Wichita State, who was led in scoring by Jaime Echenique’s 14. Garza will look to continue his dominance in the next round.
3 Duke vs. 14 Boston University
DUKE: 90, BU: 73
Yeah, Duke has had their ups and downs this year. But this game certainly wasn’t a down. Cassius Stanley and Tre Jones both finished with 17 points, Carey with 13, and Baker, Moore, and Hurt all added 11. This balanced scoring absolutely murdered Boston University’s defense. Walter Whyte had 14, as did Javante McCoy, but nobody else from Boston University could even touch Duke’s defense. Duke walks into the second round (happy they weren’t upset)!
7 Penn State vs. 10 ETSU
PENN STATE: 77, ETSU: 56
Penn State was in complete control of this game. Myreon Jones had a game high 19 points while Lamar Stevens added 18 and Curtis Jones notched 17. On ETSU, only Tray Boyd seemed in rhythm, scoring 17 points while Lucas N’Guessan added 10 points and 9 rebounds. Penn State definitely wasn’t anyone’s favorite going into the tournament, but if they can keep this up, who knows how far they can go!
2 Villanova vs. 15 Northern Kentucky
VILLANOVA: 98, NKU: 57
This was doomed from the start. Villanova had FOUR players score 20+ in this game. Justin Moore, Collin Gillespie and Saddiq Bey all had 21, while Jeremiah Robinson-Earl added 20 and 15 rebounds. Nobody could stop Villanova all night. NKU had Jalen Tate score 13 points, but no other player scored double digits. Villanova really showed their muscles here, and they’ll be a serious force to deal with the rest of the tournament.