NCAA Tournament Simulation: First Round, West Region
A shocking upset ends a dream season abruptly
Our NCAA sim heads out West as the first round rolls on.
The results are already in from the Midwest and East regions, and now our third slate of games comes from the West Region. Gonzaga, San Diego State, and Oregon are all playing in the Pacific time zone, while Seton Hall is staying close to home to start things off.
As a reminder, we here at Mountain West Wire are using the final bracket generated by the Bracket Matrix and simulating games via WhatIfSports. A hearty thanks to both for helping us get some catharsis in these trying times. As a further reminder, each game is only simulated once — whatever happens, happens. That’s the beauty of the Big Dance.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the results.
(#4) Oregon 69, (#13) Akron 67
SPOKANE, Wash. — The first game of this Spokane pod is an absolute classic. The Ducks survive a scare from the Zips, thanks to a Payton Pritchard buzzer-beater. Akron’s Loren Jackson led all scorers with 26 points. The 13-seed jumped out to an early lead, but the Ducks stormed back in the second half. An 8-0 run from Akron tied the game with 3:25 to play, and the teams mostly traded baskets down the stretch. Thankfully for the Ducks, their All-American had the final shot — and he did not miss.
(#6) Penn State 77, (#11) Wichita State 63
ALBANY, N.Y. — The most successful season of the Pat Chambers era continues as the Nittany Lions never really had to sweat in this one. Wichita State kept it respectable, but a 20-point performance from Lamar Stevens kept the Shockers at arm’s length all game. In the aftermath of the loss, six Wichita State players announce they are transferring out of the program, unexpectedly throwing head coach Gregg Marshall into the hot seat. Penn State moves on to face the winner of the Seton Hall-Hofstra game.
(#8) LSU 87, (#9) Rutgers 78
SPOKANE, Wash. — The second Spokane pod gets started with this 8-9 matchup of two teams who were both in the Top 25 during the season. Though the Scarlet Knights can officially celebrate their first NCAA Tournament berth in 30 years, the party is short-lived as Will Wade’s club wages a balanced attack. All five starters end up in double figures for LSU, but off-the-court distractions start to pop up as buzz builds for a new documentary detailing the FBI investigation into college basketball, which brings Wade’s past improprieties back into the national zeitgeist.
(#3) Seton Hall 86, (#14) Hofstra 66
ALBANY, N.Y. — The Pirates easily dispatch their seaboard compatriots, but curiously, Naismith candidate Myles Powell is relatively quiet in this one. The star guard scores just 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting and attempts just two three-pointers all game. Instead, Seton Hall relies on strong performances from Sandro Mamukelashvili and Jared Rhoden. The CAA champs trailed by 18 at the half and never really threatened an upset. A bit of a dull game as we head into the midday doldrums.