Writer Predicts How March Madness Would’ve Gone

Photo of forward Ryan Mikesell from Griffin Quinn

Peter Burtnett
Sports Staff Writer

Sorry to remind you, college basketball fans, but the 2020 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament would have had its Championship today. For many Dayton men’s basketball fans, this tournament posed a true chance for Dayton to win its first ever national championship.

I have predicted how every game in March Madness would’ve gone, and hopefully it can give some closure to forlorn Flyer fans.

(The teams are ranked overall – seeds based mainly on Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, 1-4 = No. 1 seed, 5-8 = No. 2, etc – and the automatic bids are based on the regular season standings if no conference tournament was finished or started before March 12, and the No. 61-68 – 61-64, 41-42 are No. 11 seeds – teams that would have played in the First Four at UD Arena.)

Elite Eight

East Regional Final

No. 1 Dayton over No. 11 Stephen F. Austin

  • The Flyers, who are no stranger to making Cinderella runs to the Elite Eight, are led by the talented duo of Obi Toppin and Jalen Crutcher to the Final Four in Atlanta.

South Regional Final

No. 2 Kentucky over No. 9 Utah State

  • Like the Lumberjacks from SFA, the Aggies’ season is ended by a team that is more familiar with the tournament, as John Calipari’s Wildcats punch their ticket to the Final Four.

Midwest Regional Final

No. 1 Kansas over No. 3 Michigan State

  • Udoka Azobuike and Devon Dotson are too much for Cassius Winston’s Spartans as Bill Self out-coaches Tom Izzo to lead the Jayhawks back into the Final Four.

West Regional Final

No. 3 Oregon over No. 1 Gonzaga

  • In a rematch of the Bulldogs’ 73-72 overtime win in the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinal in November, player of the year finalist Payton Pritchard leads the Ducks to the Final Four

We now take the imaginary trip to Atlanta to see who I think would have been crowned champion of college basketball in 2020.

Final Four

No. 1 Dayton over No. 2 Kentucky

  • The Flyers continue their NCAA-leading field goal percentage (52.5 percent) and third-best assist per game average (17.6) and out-play the Wildcats to advance to the National Championship Game. Led by lottery-pick Toppin and a strong supporting cast, the Flyers have proven that they have what it takes to compete with the best in college basketball (90-84 loss in overtime against Kansas in Maui Invitational Final), and as the team with the longest-winning streak, a national championship game appearance would have been in the realm of possibility for the Flyers.

No. 1 Kansas over No. 3 Oregon

  • Azobuike and Dotson (both Naismith Player of the Year semifinalists) lead the way as the Jayhawks fly higher than Pritchard and the Ducks on the way to a rematch against the Flyers. The Jayhawks had emerged as a clear No. 1 team in a season where many thought there wasn’t one and it would have been hard to get past Bill Self’s team in March Madness.

National Championship Game

No. 1 Kansas over No. 1 Dayton

  • The Flyers’ historic season ends in the last game of the college basketball season, but not with a win. In a rematch of the aforementioned final in Maui, Toppin would likely once again be overwhelmed on the defensive end by Azobuike. Doing what the Flyers have done well this season – post-up with big man (Toppin) and either drive to basket or pass to open shooter (often Jalen Crutcher) – the Jayhawks could do the same with Azubuike and Dotson to overwhelm the Flyers’ defense on the way to the Jayhawks’ fourth national championship in the NCAA Tournament era.

While it would’ve been exciting to see the Flyers in the national championship, I hope these predictions relieve a little bit of the disappointment that there were no March Madness games live on your TV.

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