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Parallel University: March Madness, Day 2

March Madness might have been cancelled, but they can’t ruin all our fun

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Four-North Carolina Central Eagles vs North Dakota State Bison Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Somewhere out there in the multiverse, there is no COVID-19 and the NCAA Tournament started Thursday as scheduled and continued today to wrap up the first round. I have been using the results of a single Monte Carlo simulation of the tournament to see how one mathematically consistent version of the tournament might have played out.

Day One was fairly slow and only saw two upset in the 16 total games. Was Friday’s action a bit more Mad? Let’s start with action in Cleveland, where MSU finally took the court in the late game:

  • No. 1 Dayton crushed Nicholls State, 80-60
  • No. 8 Providence handled No. 9 USC will relative ease, 78-62
  • No. 10 Texas Tech edged No. 7 Virginia, 65-63
  • No. 2 Michigan State surged late to beat No. 15 Ohio, 73-65

MSU got off to another slow start and didn’t take the lead until the 5:00 minute mark of the second half. The highly partisan Ohio crowd almost willed the Bobcats to victory. But... MSU survived and advanced.

In other action, as my analysis predicted, Texas Tech upset Virginia to avenge their overtime loss in the Title Game last year. This, of course, sets up a rematch of the National Semifinal from last year between MSU and Texas Tech on Sunday.

Turning to action in Greensboro, things got a bit crazy:

  • No. 6 Michigan survived a late charge from No. 11 Utah State to win 73-65
  • No. 14 South Alabama upset No. 3 Duke, 73-67
  • No. 3 Kentucky defeated No. 14 North Dakota State, 72-64
  • No. 11 Xavier took out No. 6 West Virginia, 71-68

With Duke going down, we have our first major upset of the tournament. This is especially hilarious because:

  1. It’s Duke
  2. I totally just picked Duke to make the Title Game
  3. The odds of this upset were much closer to that of a No. 2 / No. 15 game (roughly five percent)
  4. South Alabama would have faced Michigan next, making their path much, much easier

In other words, this is exactly the type of thing that would have actually happened. March Madness! Also, Xavier scored another upset in the No. 6 / No. 11 game to bring the first round total to five, so far.

Moving on to action in Omaha, I have

  • No. 1 Kansas pummeled No. 16 Robert Morris, 76-58
  • No. 9 Marquette upset No. 8 LSU, 72-71 on a buzzer beater
  • No. 1 Baylor survived No. 16 Boston University, 69-65
  • No. 8 Saint Mary’s beat No. 9 Florida, 68-63

One more No. 9 upset occurred here, bringing the upset total to six. As for Baylor, the odds did suggest that this was more like a No. 2 / No. 15 match-up and the “results” bore that out.

Finally, the action in Sacramento featured

  • No. 12 New Mexico State upset No. 5 Butler, 66-63
  • No. 4 Wisconsin barely survived against No. 13 UC Irvine, 67-66
  • No. 2 San Diego State brushed past No. 15 Northern Kentucky, 78-56
  • No. 7 Illinois edged No. 10 Arizona State, 71-70

While this was the second most likely No. 12 upset, it has below average odds.

After one round of play in the Parallel Universe NCAA Tournament, a total of seven upsets occurred. No. 3 Duke, No. 5 Butler, No. 6 Penn State, No. 6 West Virginia, No. 7 Virginia, No. 8 Houston, and No. 8 LSU all lost. The updated bracket, after Round One, looks like this

While the methodology that I use to make my picks did get the right total number of upsets correct, I only get two correct (LSU and Virginia). I also would have lost one of my Title game participants (Duke) already. My bracket would have been pretty busted.

With Round One in the books, our focus now turns to the Round of 32 on Saturday and Sunday... somewhere in a Parallel Universe. Stay tuned.