Here we are on the 24th day of our sports drought, with no live match (outside of Belarus, that is) and we live in a world where virtual reality sports and 2K tournaments are the new standard.
If a global pandemic had not forced the cancellation of the NCAA tournament, we would be in a state of contentment from two weeks of Mad March happiness and ready to participate in two epic Final Four games. But if that did take place? How would these national semi-final matches have gone? USA TODAY Sports simulated full support on
Selection Depression Sunday. Here is how these two games and the national championship would have gone:
National Semifinal Match 1 (in Atlanta) – Dayton 58, Oregon 55. The Flyers had a 29-3 season behind national player of the year Obi Toppin. But coach Anthony Grant’s team was more than Toppin, with a veteran cast and deep bench that would have made Dayton a hard-to-stop team. But the Flyers were tested on a large scale by Pac-12 regular season champion Oregon, a surprise Final Four crasher as No. 4 seed after eliminating Gonzaga and Michigan State in our project western region. Ducks senior goalkeeper Payton Pritchard has had an All-American season and has reportedly challenged Dayton’s backcourt. But the Flyers still have a wide range of weapons that shoot it far beyond the arc in close match scenarios, including Jalen Crutcher, who scored a 3-point pointer in a January 17 victory on Saint Louis. In this simulated game from the Final Four, Dayton again wins three victories.
National Semi-Final Match 2 (in Atlanta) – Kansas 62, Florida State 60. The Jayhawks have been one of the most dominant teams to enter the playoffs in the past decade, and would have been the No. 1 seed if the peloton of 68 had been announced. Playmaker Devon Dotson and big man Udoka Azubuike were a formidable tandem upside down, but it was the utility players and the role guys who helped shape one of Coach Bill Self’s best teams. That said, KU would have just barely surpassed the second seeded Florida State winner of the CCA regular season title, which uses a range of length and athleticism to make up for the gifted offensive teams. Dotson would have made the difference, however, by scoring a winning bucket to push the Jayhawks into the national title match.