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Local sports bars were once again a beehive of activity on the first Thursday of the NCAA basketball tournament.
An eclectic group of basketball fans and bracket gamblers quickly swarmed around empty tables and bar stools. Businessmen in their finely pressed suits, high school students skipping school and Cincinnati Bearcat quarterback, Tony Pike (at least at my sports bar) all made the pilgrimage to the land of chicken wings, barley and hops.
But the sound of clanking glasses, trash-talking compadres, clapping hands and good cheer made way for the grinding gears of the paper shredder come Saturday afternoon.
The number one overall seed, Kansas Jayhawks, became this season's sacrificial lamb to the Cinderella gods. The unassuming Northern Iowa Panthers strutted into Oklahoma City with little to lose and about 94-feet of credibility to gain. With 4.9 seconds in the game and the orange sphere rotating towards upset city, 317 miles away a new "F-word" in Lawrence, Kansas was about to be added to George Carlin's infamous list: Farokhmanesh!
Just like that, the NCAA tournament field was thrown into a blender and the "what-if" scenarios became as common as Bruce Pearl's orange sports coat.
The Sweet Sixteen will highlight a rare 9-seed (NIU) vs 5-seed (Michigan State), in the East Region a 1-seed (Kentucky) vs a 12-seed (Ivy League party crasher Cornell) and don't forget the St. Mary's Gaels in the South. The 10-seed ripped off wins against Richmond and Villanova to creep into the regional semi-finals.
Whatifsports.com's basketball simulation engine has simulated the 2010 NCAA Sweet Sixteen field 2000 times. With Kansas absence the rest of the way, the door has swung wide open for Syracuse. The Orange have the best chance at winning the national basketball championship at 32.2-percent. The Baylor Bears have the second highest chance of winning the championship at 16.2-percent. The Duke Blue Devils round out the top three at 13.7-percent. Note: we simulated Michigan State's games without Kalin Lucas playing.
Whatifsports.com predicts Syracuse will meet Duke on Monday April 5th inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the NCAA basketball championship.
March 24th UPDATE: West Virginia's Darryl "Truck" Bryant broke his ankle in practice and will miss the rest of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Whatifsports.com simulated West Virginia's game against Washington 1,001 times without Bryant in the line-up.
Washington vs WVU w/o Bryant
|@ WVU w/o Bryant||78.7||76.4|
March 24th UPDATE: Syracuse announced today that it will be without Arinze Onuaku when they play Butler in the Sweet 16. Whatifsports.com simulated Syracuse's game against Butler 1,001 times without Onuaku in the line-up.
Butler vs Syracuse w/o Onuaku
|@ Syracuse w/o Onuaku||84.1||74.5|
Now some may question why Baylor has a higher chance of winning the championship over Duke yet, the Blue Devils are predicted to face Syracuse in the finals. The Bears have less of a chance to get to the championship game than Duke, but if Baylor does manage to beat the odds and reach Indy, they match-up better with possible opponents from the opposite side of the bracket (Syracuse, Kansas State, Ohio State, etc). So, it appears as if Baylor's next two games versus St. Mary's and most likely Duke will be their toughest tests.
To the right you will find a handy Whatifsports.com NCAA Basketball Tournament Widget. You can add this feature to any social networking site including Facebook and Myspace. In a concise, sleek design, this widget allows you to share Whatifsports.com's predictions with all your friends.
- East Region - #1 seed - Kentucky
- Midwest Region - #1 seed - Kansas
- West Region - #1 seed - Syracuse
- South Region - #1 seed - Duke
Whatifsports.com is proud to say it accurately predicted the 2009 Super Bowl, 2009 BCS National Championship, 2009 World Series, 2009 NBA Finals and 2009 NCAA basketball championship. Our hope is to add the 2010 national basketball championship to that running list of Whatifsports.com's simulation success.
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to shoot him an email with any questions or comments regarding Whatifsports.com's NCAA Tournament Preview.
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