The actual NCAA Tournament has been canceled, but Sporting News is still offering the chance to pick upsets and virtually watch your favorite teams advance, round-by-round to the Final Four.
The opening weekend results — thanks to your votes — produced a handful of double-digit seeds winning their opening-round games, but all of those Cinderella dreams died in the second round. We didn’t have a single team higher than a 5-seed advance to the Sweet 16 (I’m a little bit disappointed in you people for your lack of belief in the magic of March).
MISSING MARCH MADNESS: Playing out the full schedule, scores for 2020 NCAA Tournament
The Sweet 16 was good to the No. 1 seeds — all four advanced — and three of the No. 3 seeds moved on to the Elite Eight. No spoilers in the intro about how the Elite Eight games played out in the polls, though — read on to find out what the Final Four looks like:
Midwest: No. 1 Kansas over No. 3 Michigan State
Your vote: Kansas wins, 61.8 percent to 38.2 percent
Thoughts: Michigan State, a 3-seed, had rolled through the tournament with No. 1 seed-like voting results. But that train stalled at the station in Lawrence, apparently. Kansas had 15 Final Four appearances heading into the 2019-20 college hoops season, and you voters just punched their ticket for a 16th (albeit a fictional one). If Sparty wasn’t able to get Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike in foul trouble — he had at least three fouls in 13 games this year — that would have been a big problem, because he rarely misses in the paint. And Azubuike did a pretty good job staying away from whistles late in the season: He only had more than two fouls in one of his last four regular-season games.
East: No. 1 Dayton over No. 2 Florida State
Your vote: Dayton wins, 61.1 to 38.9
Thoughts: Want to know why Dayton is so very good? Yes, they have Obi Toppin, and he’s kind of amazing, but he’s not the only skilled offensive player on the team. Look at the individual offensive ratings on the squad: For quick background on the stat (created by Dean Oliver and used at numerous sites, including KenPom.com): “Anything over 110 is good, and 120 is excellent for a player that is the workhorse on his team.”
Well, Dayton has six players averaging at least 22 minutes a game, and three of them have offensive ratings above 120 — Toppin (122.4), Jalen Crutcher (121.5) and Ibi Watson (120.5). Two more are over 110 — Trey Landers (119.7) and Ryan Mikesell (114.4). How do you beat a team like Florida State, with an elite defensive squad? With a lineup like that, that’s how.
West: No. 1 Gonzaga over No. 3 Maryland
Your vote: Gonzaga wins, 67.5 to 32.5
Thoughts: Remember what we just said about Dayton and offensive rating? Check out the Zags: Four regulars over 120, another three at 114 or better. They're just so damn deep and talented. There’s never a possession you can take off defending that group. Maryland’s good, but Gonzaga’s better. I fully agree with the result here.
South: No. 3 Kentucky over No. 1 Baylor
Your vote: Kentucky wins, 54.9 to 45.1
Thoughts: Unlike Kentucky’s ballot-box-stuffing Sweet 16 results, the vote totals for this game were very similar to the vote totals for the other Elite Eight games. So it’s not just the Kentucky superfans who picked the Cats to advance here. Maybe it’s a belief in Kentucky, or maybe it’s just a wariness about Baylor, a club that lost three of its last five games and needed overtime at home to beat a Texas Tech team squarely on the bubble — not exactly an impressive closing stretch. I figured Baylor would be the first No. 1 seed voted out, but I kind of thought it would happen before the Elite Eight.