The actual NCAA Tournament was canceled, but we’re still offering the chance to pick upsets and virtually watch your favorite teams advance, round-by-round to the Final Four.
You voted for the first 16 games on Thursday, and here are your results.
No. 1 Kansas over No. 16 N.C. Central
Your vote: Kansas wins, 84.9 percent to 15.1 percent
Thoughts: It seems pretty obvious that 15.1 percent of our voters are either fans of N.C. Central or Mizzou, or maybe just chaos in general. I’ve been to home games at N.C. Central many times, and I know the type of energy and enthusiasm the Eagles play with, and I know they won 11 of their final 12 games this year. But Kansas wins this one pretty easily.
No. 8 Houston over No. 9 Indiana
Your vote: Houston wins, 53.9 to 46.1
Thoughts: I’ll be honest, my vote went the other way. Houston just didn’t face much in the way of stiff competition this season, playing just two games against teams that finished in the KenPom top 30, and the Cougars lost both times (to BYU and Oregon). Indiana, on the other hand, played 18 games against teams that finished in the top 30 of the KenPom ratings, going 7-11 in those contests. Not a stellar record — that’s why they’re a 9 seed — but the kind of regular pressure that readies you for an NCAA Tournament contest. But you voted Houston through, so Houston moves on.
No. 12 Cincinnati over No. 5 Butler
Your vote: Cincinnati wins, 52.5 to 47.5
Thoughts: Death, taxes and 12s over 5s, am I right? Cincinnati made the field by virtue of having the top seed in the AAC Tournament, but without winning that tournament, the Bearcats would have been very nervous as a bubble team on Selection Sunday. This would not have been a high-scoring game; Butler ranked 341st in adjusted tempo, Cincinnati was 199th.
No. 4 Louisville over No. 13 Akron
Your vote: Louisville wins, 76.8 to 23.2
Thoughts: Louisville stumbled a bit at the end of the season, losing its last four games away from home — including two (Georgia Tech and Clemson) that weren’t in the bubble conversation — but over the course of the season, the Cardinals were very good on both sides of the basketball. In adjusted efficiency, they ranked 12th in offense and 30th in defense.
No. 6 West Virginia over No. 11 ETSU
Your vote: West Virginia wins, 61.8 to 38.2
Thoughts: Shouldn’t sleep on ETSU, folks! The Buccaneers knocked off LSU this year and gave Kansas a scare, trailing by just five with five minutes left in a contest at Allen Fieldhouse. So as you can probably guess, I went with ETSU. West Virginia lost six of its final nine games and ranked just 308th in effective field-goal percentage. A wobbly team that doesn’t shoot well isn’t a sure thing in March. But you voted WVU, so WVU moves on.
No. 3 Michigan State over No. 14 Belmont
Your vote: Michigan State wins, 75.7 to 24.3
Thoughts: Belmont’s a good team, but this would have been the wrong year to play Michigan State in the opening round of the tournament. The Spartans, after a stumble in Big Ten play, had won five in a row, by an average of 12 points, including wins over Maryland, Ohio State, Iowa and Penn State, all top six seeds in our Field of 68.
No. 10 Utah State over No. 7 Illinois
Your vote: Utah State wins, 65.4 to 34.6
Thoughts: Apparently everyone watched Utah State’s brilliant performance in the Mountain West tournament title game, when the Aggies knocked off San Diego State to claim the league’s auto bid. That has to be the reason for the lopsided margin here.
No. 2 Creighton over No. 15 North Dakota State
Your vote: Creighton wins, 81.6 to 18.4
Thoughts: It’s the No. 3 offense in the country (by adjusted efficiency) vs. the No. 148 defense in the country (by adjusted efficiency). Yep, lopsided for the Bluejays.
No. 1 Dayton over No. 16 Eastern Washington
Your vote: Dayton wins, 89.9 to 10.1
Thoughts: Dayton led the country in effective field-goal percentage, at 59.7 percent, shooting 37.1 percent from 3-point range (27th in the country) and an incredible 62.3 percent on 2-point shots. That’s pretty incredible, the type of efficiency that spells doom for a 16 seed.
No. 9 Rutgers over No. 8 Providence
Your vote: Rutgers wins, 56.5 to 43.5
Thoughts: You were, apparently, not impressed by Providence’s excellent play down the stretch in the Big East, when they went from bubble afterthought to bubble lock to team nobody wanted to play in the biggest of big dances. Rutgers closed strong, too, winning must-win games at home against Maryland and at Purdue to help solidify its at-large status.
No. 5 Ohio State over No. 12 Yale
Your vote: Ohio State wins, 59.3 to 40.7
Thoughts: Forty percent of the vote went to Yale, and that makes sense. Jordan Bruner — who has a year remaining and, after the season was ended, announced his intention to transfer — just feels like the type of player who could have made a huge impact in March. But Ohio State — with the No. 13 offense and No. 19 defense — was just so very solid, and solid doesn’t often lose its first game in the NCAA Tournament.
No. 4 Seton Hall over No. 13 Vermont
Your vote: Seton Hall wins, 71.8 to 28.2
Thoughts: If there’s one player who felt destined to carry his team on his shoulders to a surprising Final Four run, it’s Myles Powell. It’s a damn shame he won’t have a chance to make that happen. So we’re going to imagine he poured in 33 in this win over Vermont to start that magical run.
No. 6 Iowa over No. 11 Richmond
Your vote: Iowa wins, 61.6 to 38.4
Thoughts: Speaking of potential March heroes, Iowa’s Luka Garza was named Sporting News’ national Player of the Year after a monster season with the Hawkeyes. And by the way, Richmond is here because we had the Spiders knocking off UCLA in a First Four contest.
No. 3 Duke over No. 14 Northern Kentucky
Your vote: Duke wins, 73.7 to 26.3
Thoughts: More than 25 percent of the vote went to Northern Kentucky, which sounds about right. Fair to guess that even the college hoops fans who don’t hate Duke wouldn’t mind seeing Duke upset in the NCAA Tournament again. This wasn’t a Duke team likely to make a run to the national title, but it also wasn’t a team likely to fall in this round.
No. 7 Michigan over No. 10 Marquette
Your vote: Marquette wins, 50.3 to 49.7
Thoughts: By far the closest race, according to Sporting News fans. This one, undoubtedly, would have ended on a buzzer-beater for Marquette, and there’s zero chance it was knocked down by anyone other than Markus Howard. Remember what we said about Myles Powell and his ability to carry a team through March? Howard can do the same. He led the nation with 27.8 points per game, so let’s just assume he scored his 36th, 37th and 38th points of the game on his 3-pointer than swished through the net as time expired to give the Golden Eagles the victory.
No. 2 Florida State over No. 15 Hofstra
Your vote: Florida State wins, 85.4 to 14.6
Thoughts: An outstanding season for Hofstra, but Florida State is really, really good. The Seminoles block shots, they force turnovers and they keep opponents from ever feeling comfortable. And they’d move on here.
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