6-Iowa 77, 3-Michigan State 72
- Iowa - Epic big man battle, Iowa's Luka Garza (14,14,8 blocks) and Xavier Tillman (19,10) settled in final 1:30 with back-to-back 3-pts Joe Weiskamp (20) & CJ Frederick (13) and Garza reject Cassius' Winston (18) for Iowa 77, MSU 72. Both teams won first round blowout so a shame this was the matchup and one had to lose.
4-Oregon 78, 5-BYU 71
Jake Toolson (24 pts) led BYU to a 45-38 lead, but www.valueaddbasketball.com National Player of the Year Runner-Up Payton Pritchard led the comeback.
TJ Hawes (16 points, fouled out), Alex Barcello and Dalton Nixon tried guarding him. On defense, Oregon's Chris Duarte starred with three tough steals on three different BYU players to finally slow their offense.
10-Arizona St. 72, 2-San Diego State 69
An awesome point guard match-up featured www.valueaddbasketball.com national MVP against a PG in the top 2% of all players in ASU's Remy Martin (27 points, 4 steals). Arizona State won the turnover battle 19-12 to blow the West Region wide open with both seeds eliminated.
9-USC 74, 1-Gonzaga 73
Onyeka Okongwu, USC's www.valueaddbasketball.com 2nd team All-American, scored 23 points and grabbed 9 rebounds to lead the Trojans to a 35-27 edge on the boards and double digit lead over Gonzaga.
After an opening 3-pointer by USC, Gonzaga was never within three again until Filip Petrusev scores to make it 67-64 with 3:21 left. That started a furious back and forth between him and Okongwu for the last few minutes.
Petrusev scored was fouled, hitting the free throw to cut it to 68-67. Admon Gilder then stole the ball and scored on a fast break to give the Zags what would be their only lead if the game, 69-68. Okongwu then scored on three straight trips while Petrusev and Gilder scores during the stretch to make it a 6-4 USC stretch to hold a 74-73 with each team having one possession left.
The Zags finally had a stop with Petrusev grabbing a rebound to give the Zags one final shot. Corey Kispert (9,8) missed and USC's Nick Rakocevic grabbed a great rebound to wrap up the game with incredible offensive rebounders Petrusev and Drew Timme bearing down.
In a balanced actual season, the Zags did only play one Quad 1 non-conference game, losing to Michigan by 18, while USC ended the year beating Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA in the year the Pac 12 looked to be back.
4-Oregon 75, 13-New Mexico State 68
This looked like the year the Pac-12 was back, as Oregon provided a 4th team from the Pac-12 to make our second round. Only the Big Ten had more (7), though the Big 12 could tie them if Texas Tech beats Houston in one the the two final 1st round games (both in the South).
Payton Pritchard (highlights) the www.valueaddbasketball.com top player in the country for the real season behind San Diego State's Malachi Flynn, started the game with a 3-pointer and drive to the hoop to lead Oregon to the 2nd round. Pritchard (19 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals) helped force 23 New Mexico State turnovers, but it still took some key plays by Chris Duarte (11,5,3) in the closing minutes to hold off NM State when they cut it to within a basket several times.
Oregon held in check NM State's trio of rotating forwards - Trevelin Queen, Jabari Rice and Johnny Mccants - all Value Add 1st team all-swac players. However, four different players grabbed at least five rebounds to give NM State a 32-26 edge on the boards, and Terrell Brown culminated a surprising 17 points by being fouled on a 3-pointer with 1:30 to play and sinking all three to cut the Oregon lead to 69-66, but the Ducks held on.
3-Michigan State 82, UC-Irvine 59
Picking an eventual national champ based on just first round performances I'd go with Michigan State after seeing their cards in action for the first time.
UC-Davis is good with another dominant big man (6-11 Brad Greene 6 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks) and 6-9 Collin Welp (9, 4). With point guard Eyassu Welp (14 with three steals) scoring in the first half Cal-Davis led 36-33 at the half - before the 49 point second half explosion.
Perhaps the best inside-outside combo in the country started a run the went three minutes from the 14:25 to 11:22 mark. Xavier Tillman (10 points, 10 rebounds) grabbed and offensive miss and slammed it home, then Cassius Winston came down and hit a 3-pointer and was fouled - completing the 4-point play and it was suddenly 54-42.
The one of the truly great rebounders in the game, reserve Thomas Kithier, grabbed an offensive rebound and dishes to Tillman who slammed again, and Aaron Henry (19 points, 6 rebounds) followed with a 3-pointer to make it 59-45.
Henry matched Winston's fear with a 4-point play a few minutes later to make it 67-49, and the 45-21 run that closed the game included 3-poimters by six different Spartans and winning the boards, in the end 39-34 against taller Cal-Davis.
The only bad news is the the Spartans next play one of the other four teams with incredible dominating 1st round showings, Iowa Kentuck, Louisville and Baylor were the other three) match-up of two of the seven Big Ten teams in the second round of the season when the Big Ten really took over college basketball.
10-Arizona State 77, 7-Arizona 71
Back-up center and shot block extrordinar Jalen Graham blocked four shots in just 10 possessions to help Arizona State take a 32-26 lead, and they never trailed again to win 77-71.
Remy Martin, the www.valueaddbasketball.com 3rd team all-Pac 12 team, led the way with a game-high 17 points. In the real season Arizona State was blown out by their instate rivals early, but came back to upset them in the rematch and go 10-4 to close out, whole the Wildcats finished 2-4.
The NCAA would actually change team's seeds to avoid conference games in the 1st or even 2nd round when possible to avoid rematches, but for purposes of the game we went with bracketmatrix seeding and let the match-ups fall as they would, in this case Arizona was the western most 7-seed and Arizona State the western most 19-seed.
Josh Green and Zeke Nnaji, value add 3rd and 2nd team all-Pac 12 big men, both scored 11 to keep Arizona close.
Important rule update after 3/28/2020 Games. After the 15- and 16-seed teams played much better than expected overall and actually won 2 of 8 games, we the 100+ all-time great games played and ran some recalculations and determined the game had one statistical distortion and changed a rule to correct. Through games of 3/28 an offensive player getting a rebound could use the 20-sided die to shoot immediately. In reviewing past match-ups we reran numbers and realized this loophole took away the dunk range and defensive aspect of the game, letting big rebounders from lower divisions score more points than should have been allowed. Therefore games beginning on 3/29/2020 require that when a team gets an offensive rebound they roll all 4 dice again to run the office and see who gets the ball, and if it is stolen or turned over, etc. We did not change any results even though Villanova would have likely won their 1-point upset, though Florida State would have still been stunned by Little Rock.
2-San Diego State 77, 15-Eastern Washington 76
Luckily the www.valueaddbasketball.com National MVP Malachi Flynn survived the game that made us realize our rule was off on offensive rebounds, as Eastern Washington erased a double digit lead with two big men simply getting stick backs. While the change did not affect this game, Flynn's big night was enough to withstand the barrage and the rule is fixed for games moving forward.
Flynn was spectacular, showing why it is such a shame the real season was cancelled when both San Diego State and Dayton had their one true shot at a National Title.
Flynn's 21 points included four 3-pointers but perhaps more importantly drew 6 fouls.
5-BYU 83, 12-Stephen F. Austin 68
Almost all of the first 15 NCAA tournament games we played were tight, but the next two were dominant West Region performances. After Garza led Iowa to a blow out win by dominating inside (see below), BYU's Jake Toolson started the game with a bucket then a 3-pointer, and BYU stayed hot from start to finish in a 83-68 win over Stephen F. Austin (SFA).
Toolson finished with a team high 21 points, and TJ Haws hit a couple of back-breaking 3-pointers en route to 15 points. Three other Cougars hit double figures to send BYU to the second round against the Oregon-New Mexico State winner.
The game putting the runners up for conference player of the year based on the www.valueaddbasketball.com ratings. Toolson ranked 2nd behind only Jordan Ford of Saint Mary's to join two Gonzaga players on the all-West Coast Conference squad. Kevin Harris, who blistered the nets for 25 points including a lat gasp 4-point play to pull Stephen F. Austin within 74-64 with 8 possessions (5 minutes) to play, ranked second behind Sha'markus Kennedy of McNeese State in the Southland.
After the 4-poont play, John Comeaux came up with his third steal and took it on a fast break to try to pull SFA within single digits, but he could not convert at the other end, and BYU pulled away in the final minutes with a 9-4 closing run.
6-Iowa 79, 11-UCLA 49
Luke Garza ranked as the 4th best player at www.valueaddbaskerball.com, but it's hard to argue against player of the year after his 17 point, 9 rebound, 4 steal, 4 blocked shot game to power Iowa to the first true blowout of our tournament.
The win came despite us not using Connor McCaffery due to his season ending injury at the end of the season. Garza, Joe Wieskamp and McCaffery gave Iowa the greatest front line in the country. Ryan Kreiner filled in for McCaffery and despite playing much of the game with no stamina remaining (meaning every roll on his card is adjusted against him by one), he put up 17 points and 7 rebounds. Wieskamp added 12 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals, as those three starters outscored the UCLA front line 46-17, outrebounded them 24-15, and only UCLA's 6 blocks by Jalen Hill stood out.
UCLA turned the ball over 22 times, the most of any team in the tournament so far. While Hill drew a 4th foul on Garza with 11:31 to play, Garza switched to guard the less aggressive Chris Smith and managed to avoid a 5th, while Smith eventually fouled out on a late drive by Wieskamp.
Not only was the margin a stunner, but based on the cards we actually had UCLA as a one point favorite despite being the worse seed. The team card shows Iowa as a +9 and UCLA a +6 making Iowa at full strength a 3-point favorite. However, Mccafferty's value add is 4.88, meaning on an average team he improves them by almost 5 points, but to determine his impact on Iowa you subtract the 1.02 which is the value of the 7th best player on the team, and losing McCaffery makes Iowa 3.86 points worse - or a 1-point underdog against a full-strength UCLA.
That being said, I include a note on the list of injured players I use here, but in looking further I don't see any reports that he was going to miss the Big Ten tournament, so perhaps that maywas a stray code from missing most of the 2019 season, and if so I will bring him back for Round 2.
9-USC 70, 8-Saint Mary's 68
USC dominated the boards to win 70-68. In the closing 5 minutes www.valueaddbasketball.com Pac-12 MVP and All-American Onyeka Okongwu (16 points, 12 rebounds) twice grabbed offensive rebounds on free throws and scored and grabbed the game-ending rebound when Saint Mary's Malik Fitts intentionally missed a final free throw down 70-67. Fritz hit the first free throw and intentionally missed the second, and since he was shooting as the center only the small forward or power forward could have gotten the rebound but Okongwa ripped it down regardless to wrap up the game.
Nick Rakocevic added 13 points and 16 rebounds and fouled Fitts on the last possession with USC leading 70-67 rather than risk an 8th 3-pointer in 44 possessions. While the two big men outscored their Saint Mary's counter parts 29-16 in points and 28-13 in rebounds, Saint Mary's 7-2 edge in three-pointers was led by Tommy Kuhse with two and Tanner Krebs with three, and Jordan Ford was Saint Mary's high scorer with 15 as those three outscored their USC counterparts 37-23.
1-seed Gonzaga 69, 16-Prairie View A&M 68
Through 120 all-time great games we never had two near upsets as close as our first two 16 v 1 games in the 2020 tournament.
Gonzaga missed 8 straight free throws down the stretch to let Prairie View A & M rally and take a shocking 68-67 lead with 30 seconds to go. On Gonzaga's last trip Corey Kispert missed, and Filip Petrusev rebounded but missedz Kispert rebounded but missed again, Petrusev rebounded and missed again, and finally Drew Timme rebounded and was fouled. A 60% free throw player (1-12) on the 20-sided die, Timme had missed 4 straight but hit them both to pull off the 69-68 win.
While commentators talked about how much more balanced and ripe for upsets this tournament should be, the "average win by 14" on Gonzaga's team card and "average lose by 6" on Prairie View's card indicates in 1000 simulated games Gonzaga would average beating Prairie View by 20 based on the cards - but as Celtic's coach Brad Steven's reminds usz 1 in 6 times you play terribly and you aren't that bad, and one in 6 games you play fantastic and you aren't that good.
If this were the real tournament gonzaga could hope this was just their one bad game of 6 rather than just a game of bad dice rolls.
If you look closely at the dunk ranges next to the teams, Prairie View A&M dunks on a 51 only and their steal ranges are all reduced by 2, while Gonzaga dunks on rolls of 51-62 and their turnover ranges are reduced by 2. In the advanced game rules you will see that any time a team's dunk ranges is at least 51-60 their turnover range is reduced by 2 for each player and their opponent's steal ranges are reduced by 2 to make up for the fact that there is really no dice combination of 57, 58, 59 or 60 since these are two six sided dice. If the range is 51-57 then the opposing team loses 1 steal number, if 51-58 then that happens and the team gets on fewer turnover number. If 51-59 then the opponent loses 2 steal numbers plus the one lower turnover.
16-seed playin - Prairie View A&M 78, Robert Morris 60
SWAC www.valueaddbasketball.com MVP Gerard Andrus (16 points, 5 rebounds) joined with fellow all-swac teammate Devonte Patterson (14, 9) to help Prairie View dominate the boards 39-28 to advance 78-60 to face Gonzaga.
Darius Williams, one of the national leaders in steals, came up with a steal and fast break layup to stretch the lead to double figures for the first time (56-45) and later out the nail in the coffin with a steal and pass ahead to Chancellor Ellis, who hit a 3-pointer to make it 68-54.
All-NEC players Josh Williams (18) and AJ Bramah combined for 29 in the losing effort for Robert Morris.