Photo by J Squared Hoops
We continue our virtual March Madness simulation! We’ll take a look at the first round of the Midwest region today. If you missed the Eastern first round, check it out here.
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, Midwest Division.
First Round - Midwest
1 Kansas vs. 16 Siena
KANSAS: 74, SIENA: 60
If you were putting money on a 1-16 upset, I certainly hope you put your money behind another 16 seed. Siena couldn’t stop the juggernaut that was Kansas this year. Devon Dotson (16), Udoka Azubuike (13) and Marcus Garrett (13) put together 42 points, and Kansas shut down Siena’s scoring, limiting team leader Manny Camper to 13 points. Kansas’ win-now team takes one step closer towards contending for the crown.
8 St. Mary's vs. 9 USC
ST. MARY’S: 67, USC: 81
St. Mary’s put together a great year. Unfortunately for them, they had to face one of college basketball’s best prospects in the first round: Onyeka Okongwu. “Big O” has been drawing attention from college scouts all year, and his 23 points and 13 rebounds performance in this game definitely proves that he deserves the attention. His big game, and Nick Rackocevic’s 18 points, catapults USC into the next round.
5 Ohio State vs. 12 Northern Iowa
OHIO STATE: 80, NORTHERN IOWA: 51
Ya know, with the way Ohio State closed out the season, it wouldn’t be incredibly bold to say that Ohio State could have been cooked in this first round. However, Ohio State was #1 for a short time for a reason. And that’s because when Ohio State is rolling, they are ROLLING. The Wesson brothers Kaleb (26) and Andre (15) combined for 41 points as the Buckeyes move on. We’ll see if they can keep up the hot streak!
4 Louisville vs. 13 Belmont
LOUISVILLE: 73, BELMONT: 51
Louisville didn’t even have to bring out the big guns for this one. Star Jordan Nwora finished with only 13 points, while teammates Steven Enoch and Ryan McMahon both had 15. Belmont’s Adam Kankel scored 16 points, but it wasn’t even close to enough to make up for Belmont’s 20% shooting from downtown. Louisville will collide with Ohio State in a former AP Poll #1 matchup.
6 Virginia vs. 11 Indiana
VIRGINIA: 54, INDIANA: 64
Finally! After 12 simulations, we have ourselves an upset! Virginia’s scoring woes reemerged as they were out dueled by Arjami Durham (19 points) and the Hoosiers. Braxton Key scored 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers, while Kihei Clark notched 11/6/6. Mamadia Diakite, Virginia’s top NBA prospect, added 8 points and defensively was runover by Justin Smith (15 points). Indiana will get to the second round and face a strong Kentucky team.
3 Kentucky vs. 14 Bradley
KENTUCKY: 69, BRADLEY: 53
BBN is alive and well in 2020. The Wildcats tore through Bradley in the first round, with a 16 point win. While top-10 pick Tyrese Maxey didn’t contribute much, Immanuel Quickley, Nick Richards, and Ashton Hagans picked up the slack and combined for 46 of the team’s 69 points. They’ll face 11-seed Indiana in the second round and try to make up for last year’s disappointing finish.
7 Illinois vs. 10 Utah State
ILLINOIS: 83, UTAH STATE: 80
This was one of the best match ups we’ve had so far in the tournament. Utah State’s Sam Merrill ended his college career with a great game, 23 points with 4 3-pointers. But it wasn’t enough to stop NBA prospects Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, who combined for 35 points (21 and 14, respectively) and 16 rebounds (4 and 12). Illinois ends the Merill-era early and will move on!
2 Creighton vs. 15 Arkansas - Little Rock
CREIGHTON: 70, LITTLE ROCK: 57
Critics were unsure of exactly how far Creighton will be able to go as a 2-seed in this tournament. But if this game against Little Rock is any indicator, they may silence the doubters quickly. Marcus Zegarowski knocks down 4 threes to put up 16 points and sends Little Rock back home. They’ll face Illinois in the Round of 32.