Wisconsin wins national title...sort of
The Wisconsin Badger’s men’s basketball team have won the national championship!
ESPN simulated the 2020 tournament and it turns out the No. 4 seeded Badgers won the title.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi chose his field of 64 teams to make up the tournament. The Badgers earned a number 4 seed in the Midwest region. ESPN then used their Basketball Power Index to decide who would win…hypothetically.
First up, Wisconsin vs. No. 13 North Texas:
“Both of these teams are among the 16-slowest pace squads in the country, but Wisconsin's decent offense is a mismatch against a weak North Texas offense. The Badgers gradually extend their lead over the course of the game, which is never really in doubt,”
In the second round, the Badgers are up against No. 12 Liberty. Wisconsin comes out on top.
“The Flames had their moment, but they won't reach the second weekend. They hung tough with the Badgers and kept the scoring margin within single digits, but Greg Gard's defense helped keep Liberty from ever making a late charge,”
This is where it gets interesting. In the Sweet 16, Wisconsin takes on No. 9 Marquette for a battle over America’s Dairyland.
“Wouldn't this be something: an all-Wisconsin showdown in the Sweet 16. Wisconsin is favored and ... just like that, Markus Howard and Marquette's Cinderella run comes to a screeching halt. Nate Reuvers records a couple of key blocks down the stretch as Wisconsin's defense comes through again,”
On to the Elite Eight now. The Badgers are paired up against perennial powerhouse No. 3 Duke.
"D'Mitrik Trice knocks down a 3 at the horn to put the Badgers over the top and win by one ... they're going to the Final Four! They took down Mike Krzyzewski, Carey, Tre Jones and the rest of the Blue Devils ... just barely. But they're through,”
It’s another Final Four appearance for Wisconsin. In this simulation, it’s a Big Ten battle against No. 4 Maryland.
“Maryland falls behind early but makes a late run and pulls ahead in the final minute. But in the final seconds, history repeats itself: Brad Davison knocks down a 3 to put the Badgers up at the very end, just as he did when these two schools played in January. A half-court heave from the Terps is off the mark, and Wisconsin, improbably, is headed to the national championship.”
Now to the big tamale. The National Championship against No. 6 BYU
"The Badgers have done it! In the college basketball season that made no sense, Wisconsin has come out of (relatively) nowhere to take the national championship. The Badgers had less than a 1% chance to pull off this feat entering the tourney. It's a team effort, but Nate Reuvers leads Wisconsin with 16 points. Gard is lauded for getting his group to play their best when it mattered the most. This is a team that did not begin the season in the AP's Top 25 and only barely cracked it in the last set of rankings. Not that any of that matters, because the Badgers are now (simulated) champions!"
According to ESPN, Kansas had the greatest chance of winning the title at 18%.
The tournament never happened but you can always wonder “what if”…