2020 March Sadness Bracket
Well, March Madness has been cancelled due to COVID-19; and as much as we hoped to see it happen, it was the best decision in order to keep student athletes, coaches, and fans safe. However, I can't let the cancellation of March Madness stop me from creating a bracket, as that would be a sin to not at least make a hypothetical. So, without further a do, here is Let's Talk Sports' 2020 March Sadness bracket. Note: The team winning each matchup is bolded.
Pictures from previous March Madnesses: Left- Mo Wagner celebrates with teammate D.J. Wilson during a career high, 26 point game against Louisville in 2017. Center- Marvin Bagley dunks while on a fast break vs Rhode Island in 2018. Right- Jalen Smith dunks over Dylan Windler during a comeback win in 2019.
11. UCLA vs 11. Texas, 12. NC St. vs 12. Richmond
16. Robert Morris vs 16. Boston University, 16. Siena vs 16. NC Central
In the higher seeded games of the first four, we see Mick Cronin's Bruins take down Shaka Smart's Longhorns in an underrated matchup that would've been worth watching. Despite the game being close, it was really just catch-up for Texas, as UCLA jumps out to a quick lead and never lets it up. Also, the Spiders and the Wolfpack face off in a grudge match. But in the end, Blake Francis hits the game winning shot with just a few seconds left to send Richmond to the next round. In the next game, we see the Colonials from Robert Morris beat Boston's Terriers in a game that feels over by the end of the first half. In the second half, the Terriers try to mount a comeback, but never come within nine of the Colonials. In similar fashion, NC Central takes down Siena with ease behind Jibri Blount's 27 points and 12 assists.
1. Gonzaga vs 16. North Dakota St., 8. Arizona vs 9. Florida
4. Oregon vs 13. Bradley, 5. Auburn vs 12. Stephen F. Austin
2. San Diego St. vs 15. Little Rock, 7. Illinois vs 10. Texas Tech
3. Maryland vs 14. UC Irvine, 6. West Virginia vs 11. UCLA
Gonzaga wastes no time in dispatching North Dakota St., and they win by a solid 26 points. Looks like there's not going to be any 1 vs 16 upsets this year. However, we technically get our first upset when the Florida Gators "upset" the Arizona Wildcats. This is largely due to a great game by Kerry Blackshear Jr., and the ejection or Arizona coach Sean Miller. Unfortunately, there are no upsets in the next two games as Oregon and Auburn roll over Bradley and Stephen F. Austin, respectively. For Oregon, Wooden award nominee Payton Pritchard lives up to his nomination and scores almost 30 points. But, despite pulling upsets off earlier in the season, Kevon Harris and company can't pull it off against Auburn. As predicted, San Diego St. keeps their impeccable season alive against. Little Rock, while seven seed Illinois beats the reigning runner-up Red Raiders (like the alliteration?) behind strong performances from Ayo Dosumnu and Kofi Cockburn. For the final games in the West, three seed Maryland overcomes a bad start, which has been a commonality for their season, in order to beat the Anteaters of UC Irvine. Also, the UCLA Bruins win their second game of the tournament over a West Virginia team that ended the season on a rough string of losses.
1. Gonzaga vs 9. Florida, 4. Oregon vs 5. Auburn
2. San Diego St. vs 7. Illinois, 3. Maryland vs 11. UCLA
In the second round in the West, top seeded Gonzaga defeats another opponent, this time the Gators from Gainesville. Gonzaga will next face Auburn, who ended the college career of Payton Pritchard, and the season of the Oregon Ducks with a strong eight point win. On the other side, the first two seed falls as the Fighting Illini fight hard enough to beat the Aztecs of San Diego St., despite 26 points from Malachi Flynn. The Illini now have to play Mark Turgeon's Terrapins, after they win a tight game over UCLA. Jalen Smith finished the game with his second double-double of the tournament, while Anthony Cowan put up 18 points against the Bruins.
1. Gonzaga vs 5. Auburn, 7. Illinois vs 3. Maryland
In the Sweet 16, Killian Tillie leads the Zags to the next round with a double double as Gonzaga beats Auburn 83-76. They will face Maryland, who beats conference opponent Illinois by five. Aaron Wiggins comes up big this time for the Terps, having 16 points off the bench and hitting five three pointers.
1. Gonzaga vs 3. Maryland
In the final round before Atlanta, it is the battle of the Marks. One, a well respected coach of a blue blood program. The other, a coach who finally let, "a 1000 pound gorilla off [his] back," by narrowly winning the Big Ten regular season. And, in the end Mark Few and Gonzaga advance to the Final Four after beating the Terrapins 72-63.
1. Baylor vs 16. Robert Morris, 8. Providence vs 9. USC
4. Louisville vs 13. Akron, 5. Ohio St. vs 12. Yale
2. Florida St. vs 15. Northern Kentucky, 7. Colorado vs 10. Rutgers
3. Seton Hall vs 14. Hofstra, 6. Iowa vs 11. Arizona St.
In the first round of the South we don't see many upsets, with the exception of 12 seed Yale defeating Kaleb Wesson and the Ohio St. Buckeyes. But, stars like Myles Powell, Jordan Nwora, and Luka Garza, and their teams (Seton Hall, Louisville, and Iowa respectively) advance after wins by at least 10 points. While some may count USC topping Providence as one, an eight vs nine "upset" is quite common. Florida St. actually struggled to pull off the first round win over the Northern Kentucky Norse, but Leonard Williams's Seminoles pull off a two point win in dramatic fashion, as Tyler Sharpe's last second shot barrels off the front of the rim.
1. Baylor vs 9. USC, 4. Louisville vs 12. Yale
2. Florida St. vs 7. Colorado, 3. Seton Hall vs 6. Iowa
While the first round went pretty chalk down South, the second round is quite different. For starters, Myles Powell's senior year comes to an end when Big 10 player of the year Luka Garza and the Iowa Hawkeyes win by a whopping 16 points. Then, Yale defeats Louisville 82-78 behind a 24 point effort from Paul Atkinson. However, the two favorites, Baylor and Florida St., stay alive. Baylor's win against USC comes with ease as the Bears only fall behind for the first few minutes of the game. But for Florida St., a win over the Colorado Buffaloes requires a comeback effort and a ten points in the last two minutes from star Devin Vassell.
1. Baylor vs 12. Yale, 2. Florida St. vs 6. Iowa
In the Sweet 16, the Cinderella story of the Ivy League champs comes to an end as the top seeded Baylor Bears advance on to the Elite Eight. The same can be said for Iowa, as they drop a close game to Florida St, despite 18 points from bench star Ryan Kriener.
1. Baylor vs 2. Florida St.
In the Elite Eight game, the two top teams in the region face off in a gritty game. Baylor's defense allows them to form a six point lead at the half. But, it doesn't hold for the full forty minutes, and allows for a comeback effort. In the end, the small lapse of defense is enough for the Seminoles to overcome Baylor and end the Bears' remarkable season.
1. Dayton vs 16. Prairie View A&M, 8. Marquette vs 9. Utah St.
4. Michigan St. vs 13. New Mexico St., 5. Butler vs 12. Richmond
2. Villanova vs 15. Eastern Washington, 7. Michigan vs 10. Oklahoma
3. Duke vs 14. North Texas, 6. Penn St. vs 11. East Tennessee St.
In the East, top seeded Dayton rolls past Prairie View A&M as sophomore Obi Toppin drops 35 points on the Panthers. The Flyers will face off against Sam Merrill and the Utah St. Aggies after they end Markus Howard's career along with Marquette's season. In a turn of events, another senior's season is over after Jabari Rice's game winning floater over Cassius Winston sends the other Aggies, the ones from New Mexico, into the next round. Likewise, the A-10 goes 2-0 in the East as 12 seed Richmond pulls off the upset over Butler behind double doubles from Grant Golden and Nick Sherod. Villanova avoids being upset as they power past a weak Eastern Washington team. Michigan overcomes an eight point deficit in the first half to defeat the Oklahoma Sooners 71-65. Despite upsets to the four and five seeds, Duke is able to survive due to 20+ point performances by Matthew Hurt and Vernon Carey Jr., and a poor defensive effort by the Mean Green of North Texas. Lastly, the Buccaneers from East Tennessee defeat Penn St. despite a 28 point performance from Lamar Stevens and a double double from Mike Watkins.
1. Dayton vs 9. Utah St., 13. New Mexico St. vs 12. Richmond
2. Villanova vs 7. Michigan, 3. Duke vs 11. East Tennessee St.
In another upset from the East, Sam Merrill and the Aggies pull off another upset as they defeat Obi Toppin and the Dayton Flyers despite a 28-5-12 performance from the future top five pick. In the Cinderella game, as I'll call it, between Richmond and New Mexico St., the Spiders advance yet again after a 76-71 win. Next, in a rematch of the 2018 National Championship game, we see the same result, as the higher seeded Villanova Wildcats defeat the Michigan Wolverines. While the margin of victory isn't as large as the 17 point win the Wildcats had two years ago, it is enough for Jay Wright's team to advance to the Sweet 16. Lastly, after a few years of staying safe, Duke is finally upset as the Pirates' Cinderella run carries on, largely due to Tray Boyd III's scoring tear.
9. Utah St. vs 12. Richmond, 2. Villanova vs 11. East Tennessee St.
Although they were able to beat one off the Aggies, Richmond falls to the Aggies of Utah St. in a close 68-66 game. Sam Merrill is now looking like a possible Final Four/Tournament MVP candidate. Utah St. will face the Wildcats of Villanova after they defeat Cinderella East Tennessee St. by a whopping 18 points.
9. Utah St. vs 2. Villanova
In a pivotal match to decide who advances to the Final Four, the Aggies show up strong again. This time however, the hero is Justin Bean, who put up a solid 21 point performance that included a shot with 4.2 seconds left to put the Aggies up by three. Is should be noted however that Villanova's Saddiq Bey had 29 points in the loss.
1. Kansas vs 16. North Carolina Central, 8. Houston vs 9. LSU
4. Wisconsin vs 13. Vermont, 5. BYU vs 12. Liberty
2. Creighton vs 15. Winthrop, 7. St. Mary's vs 10. Indiana
3. Kentucky vs 14. Belmont, 6. Virginia vs 11. Cincinnati
The First Round of the Midwest goes largely chalk, as there's only one upset. To start, the Kansas Jayhawks plow through NC Central, ending their hopes of a UMBC esc win. Houston takes care of business... barely. Down by two with three seconds left, Quentin Grimes nets a three to top the Tigers. Oh well, at least they have football. The same can be said for Wisconsin, as they get upset by Vermont, who is lead by an 18 point game from Everett Duncan. The Catamount's next game will be against BYU, who defeats the Liberty Flames handily behind a strong game from Yoeli Childs. On the other side, Creighton takes care of Liberty despite losing for the majority of the game. St. Mary's plays a similar game, as Rob Phinisee and the Indiana Hoosiers hold the lead for most of the game over them until a 13-2 run at the end saves the Gaels. The last matchup in the round of 32 is Kentucky vs Virginia, which happens after both teams win solidly over their opponents. For Kentucky, they took the lead 2-0 and never looked back. For Virginia, they face some resistance from Jarron Cumberland and co., but in the end the Bearcats can't overcome the strong Virginia defense.
1. Kansas vs 8. Houston, 13. Vermont vs 5. BYU
2. Creighton vs 7. St. Mary's, 3. Kentucky vs 6. Virginia
The Jayhawks continue to look like championship contenders after they destroy Houston by 18 behind a 23 point game by Devon Dotson. The Jayhawks will play BYU, after they shut down Anthony Lamb and Vermont. On the other side of the region, Creighton takes care of business in a nine point win against St. Mary's to move on to the Sweet 16. They'll matchup with the reigning champion Virginia Cavaliers after they upset John Calipari's Wildcats.
1. Kansas vs 5. BYU, 2. Creighton vs 6. Virginia
Rock Chalk Cougars? Well that may not fit, but a BYU win fits right in as they take down Kansas 81-75 in overtime. Despite Udoka Azubuike's 18 point double double, Yoeli Childs still tops him in the paint with 21 points and 14 rebounds. BYU will face Virginia in an intriguing 5 vs 6 matchup after Virginia's defense does the trick to defeat 2 seed Creighton. Virginia held the Bluejays to just 20 points in the first half, and despite a small slip in the second half, the Cavaliers were able to win by eight.
5. BYU vs 6. Virginia
The Virginia Cavaliers are victorious again as they defeat BYU handily. Mamadi Diakite puts up a 15-15 double double and Braxton Key scores 18 in a classic Tony Bennett low tempo game.
1. Gonzaga vs 2. Florida St., 9. Utah St. vs 6. Virginia
In Atlanta, Final Four gets up and heated. In the first game, Filip Petrusev propels Gonzaga into the lead at the half with 14 points in that span. But the Seminoles aren't done yet, as they launch a 14-3 run to start the second half that puts them at a six point advantage with four minutes to go. Gonzaga doesn't give up however, and they slowly chip away in those four minutes until they're only down one points with 15 seconds left. Then, guard Ryan Woolridge puts up a shot just outside the paint after driving coast to coast. The shot goes around the rim once, twice, thrice, and then sinks in to give Gonzaga the lead. The win becomes secure when a last second heave from Devin Vassell goes short of the basket. In the other game, Virginia takes control early of the game and has a ten point lead at the half over the Aggies. But, the determined Aggies refuse to fall and narrow the lead to two with just over seven minutes to play. However, Braxton Key goes on a scoring tear in the last minutes of the game to take Virginia back to the NCAA Championship for the second year in a row.
1. Gonzaga vs 6. Virginia
In the final game of the season, the top seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs, headed by Coach Mark Few face off with Tony Bennett's Virginia Cavaliers in a matchup that features several future NBA Draft prospects. While Virginia's defense was enough to get them to this game, it is not enough to contain the Zags, and Virginia is in a 12 point deficit by the end of the first half. Although the cut the lead multiple times, the Cavaliers never cut Gonzaga's lead within 9. In the end, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are your 2020 National Champions.