Photo by J Squared Hoops
We move on to the 3rd part of our NCAA tournament simulations. If you missed the other 2 parts of the first round, you can check them 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, West Division.
First Round - West
1 Gonzaga vs. 16 North Dakota State
GONZAGA: 84, NORTH DAKOTA STATE: 91
I had to wipe my eyes when I saw these numbers pop up on the screen. I stared. And I stared. And I stared. But it was true. Corey Kispert and the Gonzaga defense looked hopeless in this match up. They let NDSU shoot an incredible 45% from three and run them over on the boards. Vinnie Shahid, a name most of us probably haven’t heard, had 23 points in the win, while Filip Petrusev led the Zags with 19 points and 12 rebounds. We’ll see if NDSU can continue their Cinderella story in the next round.
8 Arizona vs. 9 Marquette
ARIZONA: 84, MARQUETTE: 67
Yikes. What a tough way to end one of college basketball’s greatest careers. That, of course, being the career of Markus Howard. He went out with a bang, scoring 21 points and leading Marquette. But it wasn’t enough to knock out a pair of strong, NBA-bound talent. Zeke Nnaji had 21 points and 13 rebounds, while future lottery pick Nico Mannion had 15/6/4. The Cats will try to take out the #16 seed NDSU to move on to the Sweet Sixteen.
5 BYU vs. 12 Vermont
BYU: 90, VERMONT: 48
Last year, Vermont put up a hell of a fight in the NCAA tournament first round against FSU. But this year, that fight seemed to fizzle out. Yoeli Childs, one of CBB’s best, notched 31 points and 8 assists in the blowout, while only Vermont’s Anthony Lamb broke double digits (13 points) for the Catamounts. BYU proved that they were a strong competitor in this match and that they could be the 5-seed to be reckoned with.
4 Oregon vs. 13 Yale
OREGON: 84, YALE: 62
This one feels personal. As much as it pains me to write about a Yale loss, it feels a ~little~ better that is was against one of college basketball’s best teams. Will Richardson notched 19 points while Payton Pritchard had 15 points and 3 assists. Ivy seniors Jordan Bruner (an Alabama transfer) and Azar Swain close out their careers with solid performances, but the Ducks are the ones who will get to move on and face BYU in the second round.
6 West Virginia vs. 11 NC State
WEST VIRGINIA: 52, NC STATE: 76
It’s a bad time to be a 6 seed (unless you’re Iowa!). NC State, who missed out on top prospect Jalen Lecque due to his decision to go to the G-League, still managed to put together a great night and knock out WV in the first round. NOBODY on West Virginia scored more than 9 points, while CJ Bryce and Devon Daniels combined for 37 points and 17 rebounds in the win. They’ll move on and try their hand at another upset in the second round.
3 Michigan State vs. 14 North Texas
MSU: 77, NORTH TEXAS: 60
You’ve got to feel bad for North Texas in this one. They had to play Michigan State, arguably the strongest 3 seed in the entire tournament. And they showed why. Superstar senior Cassius Winston scored 23 points, while Xavier Tillman added 13 points and 10 rebounds. James Reese led North Texas with 19 points, but ultimately proved to be futile against a super strong MSU team.
7 Houston vs. 10 Florida
HOUSTON: 63, FLORIDA: 84
Much to the appeal of J Squared Hoops’ writers Marl and Jack, the Gators absolutely destroyed Houston in their first round match up. Kerry Blackshear led the charge and scored 20 points, while Andrew Nembhard added 12 points and 5 assists. Former Jayhawk Quentin Grimes added 16, but it wasn’t enough against a UF team that may have hit their stride at the right time.
2 San Diego State vs. 15 Eastern Washington
SDSU: 70, EWU: 75
What a region! The 1 and 2 seed get knocked out in the first round for the first time ever in the NCAA tournament. EWU shoots 40% from three and gets a much needed bench boost to power them over Malachi Flynn’s 19 points. They live to fly another day and will face Florida in a very rare 10 vs. 15 match up!