It’s the Final Four in Artificial Madness!
Those teams advancing to the third weekend of the Big Dance are Kansas, Seton Hall, Oregon and Creighton. That means we have the No. 1 overall seed in the Final Four along with THREE teams that were 3 seeds in their regions.
Like we did for the rest of the tournament, we will be simulating the Final Four just once, leaving room for variability in the national semifinals. Our model takes that advanced data and calculates each team’s offensive and defensive ratings from the 2019-20 season. Then we’re also able to project scores of the matchups our model has produced from the seeding process that’s based on group tiers.
Think of it as a weighted coin flip, and the weights are the probability of each team winning. For example, Creighton had a 76.4% chance of beating Akron, but Kansas only had a 51.6% chance of beating Michigan State. By simulating it once, we leave room for the weighted coin to possibly flip the other way.
Below are historical breakdowns of the Final Four matchups, as well as hypothetical scenarios on what might have happened in each game:
Kansas last played Seton Hall on its way to the 2018 Final Four, beating the Pirates, 83-79, in the second round despite 24 points and 23 rebounds from Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado – the first player with a 20-20 game in a tourney loss since St. John’s George Johnson in 1978. Before that 2018 matchup, the last time the Jayhawks and Pirates squared off had been in November 2001, when Nick Collison had 22 points and 19 rebounds to lead Kansas to an 80-62 victory.
We may have very well seen a 20/20 game in this one. Romaro Gill, the Big East’s Defensive Player of the Year, would have been guarding Udoka Azubuike, but it appears Azubuike would have won this battle. Azubuike has never had a 20/20 game but showed that potential in the final five games of the regular season as he averaged 18.8 points and 13.8 rebounds.
Kansas fails to disappoint against Seton Hall after entering the game with a 70.6% chance to win. That’s a tremendously high percentage for a 1 seed against a 3 seed, no matter who the teams are, but it shows our model thought very highly of Kansas. For perspective, Baylor, our 1 seed in the South Region, had a 64.3% shot at beating Saint Mary’s, an 8 seed.
This game likely features either Devon Dotson or Marcus Garrett guarding Pirates star Myles Powell and forcing him to attempt tough shots throughout the game. Seton Hall had a great ride to get here but gets stopped by one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Kansas ranked third in Division I in opponent field-goal percentage (37.7) this season and dominates the Pirates, rolling to a 24-point win. Kansas reaches the national championship game for the first time since 2012.
Unlike Kansas-Seton Hall, this one IS close. The Ducks had a 57.3% shot at beating the Bluejays, so we expected this one to be a lot closer than the previous game. Could this one have ended on a game-winning three from Payton Pritchard? Oh, would that have been something special.
We have not seen Oregon play Creighton since a three-game series in the College Basketball Invitational in 2011. Yes, the CBI plays a best-of-three Championship Series to decide the winner. After Creighton won the first game, Oregon shot a combined 50.9 percent from the field in the next two games to win both and take the title.
This game would have a similar style of play as the three-game series in 2011. Both teams are great from beyond the arc – Oregon shot 39.6 percent from three this season while Creighton shot 38.6 percent. That ranked first and second, respectively, among major conference teams.
If you like games where the two teams trade three-pointers on consecutive possessions, this would have been the game for you. The Ducks pull it off at the last second, perhaps by making a game-winning three or surviving after the Jays missed a last-second opportunity.
Oregon goes to the championship game for the first time since 1939, the very first NCAA Tournament.
The championship is set! Both Big East teams fall, thus we will see a Big 12 team and a Pac-12 team square off for the glory. Kansas is the No. 1 overall seed in our model, while Oregon was a 3 seed from the West Region. The last time these two teams met came in the 2017 NCAA Tournament – Oregon beat Kansas, 74-60, in the Elite Eight.
Come back tomorrow as we will reveal the championship game in our Artificial Madness! You can check us out @StatsBySTATS for the latest news and information in the sports world.