The NCAA cancelled its annual basketball tournament on March 13th. For the first time in 81 seasons, there will not be an official NCAA men’s basketball champion. With an unprecedented amount of March Sadness sweeping the nation, a Twitter account was created to fill the void.
The @NCAAsim2020 has proclaimed itself as the “most accurate 2020 bracket simulation available,” citing the use of advanced statistical algorithms. Over the past month, the account has been simulating the NCAA tournament. Because there was no bracket, it elected to use Joe Lunardi’s final bracketology update from March 12th.
The account has updated its bracket with full scores for every game. From the Sweet 16 on, it has provided in-game updates as well as a full box score after every simulation.
It is Monday, April, 6th. Tonight , the National Championship Game would have been played. After 3+ weeks of simulations, the @NCAAsim2020 will be producing its national champion on Monday night.
Get your popcorn ready…
Monday Night. 7pm ET.
One is walking away as the 2020 NCAA Champions… pic.twitter.com/RpdLL1uPUz
— 2020 NCAA TOURNAMENT SIMULATION (@NCAAsim2020) April 5, 2020
That’s right, your Louisville Cardinals will be playing for the coveted @NCAAsim2020 national championship.
Since there has not been much to write about in the sports world this past month, CardinalSportsZone has decided to provide you with a preview for this hypothetical matchup.
National Championship Preview:
- Louisville is appearing its 11th Final Four in school history and 4th National Championship game.
- Kansas is appearing its 16th Final Four in School History and its 4th under Head Coach Bill Self. The Jayhawks are playing in their 10th National Championship Game.
- Kansas is the first number one overall seed to reach the Final Four since Kentucky in 2015. It is looking to become the first top seed to win a title since Louisville in 2013.
- This is the fifth time Atlanta is hosting the Final Four and National Championship game. The first time since 2013.
- Kansas is tied with Duke and Michigan State for the most losses all-time in the National Championship game (6).
- Louisville (3-0) is one of four schools to own a perfect winning percentage in the national championship game (min. 2 appearances).
How We Got Here:
Due to the cancellation of all major conference tournaments, Louisville was unable to pick up any quad-1 wins in Greensboro and had to settle for a 4-seed. Kansas was 28-3 in the regular season and entered the tournament on a 16-game winning streak as the number one overall seed.
Here’s the full bracket.
The field of 64 is set! Who do you have in your #FinalFour ? Fill your bracket out and tag us in it! Is there anyone out there who can get a perfect bracket? #MarchMadness #MarchSadness pic.twitter.com/0IIGMlhPxe
— 2020 NCAA TOURNAMENT SIMULATION (@NCAAsim2020) March 14, 2020
After Selection Sunday, Vermont was a trendy upset pick over Louisville. The Catamounts had lost once in the final two months of the season and were led by Anthony Lamb, one of the best mid-major players in the entire nation. Louisville survived in a low scoring 54-49 game. In the second round, Louisville cruised past the cinderella Stephen F. Austin in a 76-58 win. The Cards advanced past the first weekend for the first time in five seasons.
A top-2 seed had lost in the first weekend eight of the past 9 tournaments. That trend continued as ninth-seeded Rutgers upset the 1-seed Baylor to set up a Sweet 16 matchup between old Big East rivals. The Scarlett Knights earned their first tournament bid since 1991, but Steve Pikiell’s squad was hardly just happy to be there. Rutgers put up a great effort, but Louisville hung on for a 72-69 win to advance to an Elite Eight matchup with a familiar foe in Michigan State.
This was Louisville’s third time facing Sparty in a regional final since 2009. The Cards were 0-2 in those games and 1-2 overall against Tom Izzo and co. during the past 11 tournaments. This is a new era of Louisville basketball, though, and the Cards got their sweet revenge, leading the entire second half on their way to a 69-64 victory. Chris Mack reached his first National Semifinal and erased himself from the list of “Best Active Coaches to Never Make a Final Four.”
On the sport’s biggest stage at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Louisville kept up with Gonzaga from the jump and raced out to a 10-point lead at halftime. The Cards opened up the second period on a 14-6 run to take an 18-point lead. The Zags roared back with a 17-6 run of their own and cut it to 5 points with 2 minutes remaining. Louisville made its free throws down the stretch and held on for an 85-77 win, advancing to the National Title Game on Monday Night.
Louisville is headed to the National Championship!
Louisville takes down Gonzaga 85-77! Louisville was able to fend off Gonzaga’s valiant comeback. Louisville was led by Dwayne Sutton with 17 points. Louisville will take on Kansas Monday night in the National Championship! pic.twitter.com/RUf0XFtyEK
— 2020 NCAA TOURNAMENT SIMULATION (@NCAAsim2020) April 5, 2020
Kansas enters Monday night with an overall record of 33-3. The Big 12 champs have won 21 straight since their loss to Baylor on January 11th. Devon Dotson has led the way throughout the tournament, averaging 22.0 points and 3.8 rebounds. Dotson averaged 7.0 assists in his past two games against Iowa and Villanova. Udoka Azubuike has been a force inside over the past three games. The Senior is averaging 16.0 points and 14.0 rebounds on 57.1 percent shooting from the field.
Louisville comes in at 29-7 overall. Jordan Nwora has led the Cards, scoring 19.0 points with 7.0 rebounds in the previous four games. Dwayne Sutton stepped up after the first weekend, averaging 13.0 points and 6.3 rebounds over the past three games. Malik Williams never fully recovered from his injury, and as a result Steven Enoch has played the lion’s share of minutes at the center position. Enoch has averaged 12.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in his last three games.
Louisville looked impressive as underdogs against Gonzaga on Saturday night. Kansas is a different animal, though. The Jayhawks have consistent guard play mixed with a balanced inside attack. Kansas is among the elite interior defensive teams in the nation. If Louisville wants to have a chance on Monday, they will have to hit their threes. The Cards have shot 41.7 percent from long range on their way to the title game. You’ve got to think they’ll realistically need 9 or 10 made three pointers to keep themselves in the contest.
Enoch has been huge for the Cards during this tournament run, but they are going to miss the consistent rim protection from Malik Williams. Udoka Azuibuike is the second best shooter from two point range in the entire country. Enoch might not have the ability to stop him. Louisville will have to hope that they can slow him down and take advantage when Doke is not on the floor.
The game tips off at 7:00 p.m. ET and can be followed live on Twitter. (Link).
Louisville comes out hot from three point range and leads by 4 at halftime. Early in the second half, Udoka Azubuike picks up his 4th personal foul and is forced to sit for an extended period. Louisville, using its small ball lineup, takes advantage of his absence and holds a 9-point lead with 5:00 remaining. Kansas makes some shots down the stretch but the Cards hold on for their 4th National Title in school history.
Louisville 74 Kansas 70
— Louisville Basketball (@LouisvilleMBB) March 17, 2020