NCAA Tournament simulation: Dayton wins first title as SportsLine simulates entire Big Dance

We won't have a winner of the 2020 NCAA Tournament after it was canceled due to the threat of spreading the deadly coronavirus. But after such a wild and thrilling season, we still want to know who would win the Big Dance, don't we? 

Of course we do, and even though that's impossible, SportsLine simulations can project the winners of each game and the national champion. 

And they did just that.

The SportsLine simulation is just as unpredictable as the real March Madness might have been by projecting the Dayton Flyers as the winner of the 2020 NCAA Tournament. 

Take a look at how March Madness would have played out, according to SportsLine simulations.

In SportsLine's simulation, the Flyers go 2-4 against the spread in their run to the title.    

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SportsLine NCAA Tournament simulation

First Four

Dayton

  • Richmond 72, Wichita St 71: After a crushing loss, the Shockers, the last team selected in the tournament, have gone three years without an NCAA Tournament win.
  • Stanford 70, UCLA 65: The Bruins' remarkable turnaround comes to an end against a Pac-12 rival.
  • Robert Morris 72, NC Central 67: NC Central bows out in the First Four for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Siena 74, Prairie View 68: Prairie View gets eliminated in the First Four for the second season in a row.

First round

MIDWEST
Omaha

  • No. 1 Kansas 80, No. 16 Robert Morris 59: The Northeast Conference Tournament champions kept it respectable but fell to the Jayhawks, the No. 1 overall seed.
  • No. 9 Florida 74, No. 8 Arizona State 69: Bobby Hurley's first NCAA Tournament win at Arizona State will have to wait.

St. Louis

  • No. 5 Wisconsin 71, No. 12 ETSU 65: The Buccaneers end their first-ever 30-win season by giving the Badgers a scare.
  • No. 4 Kentucky 74, No. 13 Vermont 64: The Catamounts beat Syracuse in the 2005 NCAA Tournament and threatened to pull a similar upset before falling to Kentucky.

Greensboro

  • No.  6 Illinois 68, No. 11 Cincinnati 66: Illinois starts its first NCAA Tournament appearance in seven years with a narrow victory.
  • No. 3 Duke 83, No. 14 Little Rock 65: Little Rock's remarkable turnaround season comes to an end against Duke.

St. Louis

  • No. 7 Michigan 74, No. 10 Utah State 69: The Aggies were riding high after upsetting San Diego State in the MWC Tournament, but couldn't slow down the Wolverines.
  • No. 2 Creighton 84, No. 15 Belmont 70: The Bluejays won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2014.

SOUTH

Omaha

  • No. 1 Baylor 75, No. 16 Boston University 61: The Bears, who won 23-straight games this season, but had lost three of their last five games, have an easy time vs. the Terriers.
  • No. 9 Arizona 75, No. 8 Marquette 73, : The Wildcats had lost four of theirs last six, but won to end the career of Markus Howard, Division I's leading-active scorer.

Spokane

  • No. 5 Ohio State 74, No. 12 Yale 66: The Buckeyes defeated a conference champion for the fifth time this season.
  • No. 4 Butler 73, No. 13 Bradley 63: The Bulldogs won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2018, LaVall Jordan's first-year as Butler's coach.

Greensboro

  • No. 11 Richmond 65, No. 6 UVA 62: The Spiders upset their in-state rival, ending the season for the reigning national champs.
  • No. 3 Maryland 76, No. 14 UC Irvine 61: Mark Turgeon won his 10th NCAA Tournament game as the Terrapins stopped the Anteaters. 

Tampa

  • No. 10 LSU 76, No. 7 Providence 71: The Friars still haven't won an NCAA Tournament game since 2016.
  • No. 2 FSU 80, No. 15 Northern Kentucky 61: The Norse hang tough vs. FSU but are still looking for their first tournament victory.

EAST

Cleveland

  • No. 1 Dayton 85, No. 16 Winthrop 70: The Flyers outlast the Big South champions to begin their NCAA Tournament journey.
  • No. 8 St. Mary's 73, No. 9 Oklahoma 69: The Gaels join BYU and Gonzaga as WCC teams advancing in the Big Dance.

Tampa

  • No. 5 Auburn 75, No. 12 Akron 71: The Tigers sneak past the Zips, who are still seeking their first NCAA Tournament victory.
  • No. 4 Louisville 71, No. 13 Liberty 64: The Flames nearly make it two straight years with a NCAA Tournament victory before falling to the Cardinals.

Cleveland

  • No. 6 West Virginia 65, No. 11 Rutgers 64: The Mountaineers break the hearts of a Rutgers program back in the dance for the first time since 1991.
  • No. 3 Michigan State 80, No. 14 North Texas 64: The Spartans handle North Texas in an all-green affair.

Albany

  • No. 7 USC 68, No. 10 Indiana 67: The Trojans make the Hoosiers' first trip in the dance since 2016 a short one.
  • No. 2 Villanova 81, No. 15 North Dakota State 65: The Wildcats handle a North Dakota State squad making its second straight tournament appearance.

WEST

Spokane

  • No. 1 Gonzaga 85, No. 16 Siena 67: The Saints kept it respectable against Gonzaga in their first tournament appearance since 2010.
  • No. 9 Colorado 67, No. 8 Houston 66, : The Buffaloes sneak past Houston, ensuring the AAC will have no team left standing in the second round.

Sacramento

  • No. 5 Penn State 84, No. 12 Stephen F. Austin 68: The Nittany Lions advance after ending the Lumberjacks' 15-game winning streak.
  • No. 4 Oregon 78, No. 13 New Mexico State 63: The Ducks hold off the Aggies, who entered the tournament with a 19-game winning streak, second longest in the nation. 

Albany

  • No. 6 BYU 75, No. 11 Stanford 71: The Cougars end Stanford's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014.
  • No. 3 Seton Hall 78, No. 14 Hofstra 67: The Pride gives Seton Hall a test before bowing out of its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001.

Sacramento

  • No. 7 Iowa 75, No. 10 Xavier 70: The Musketeers give Iowa a scare but end the season on a four-game losing streak.
  • No. 2 San Diego State 84, No. 15 Eastern Washington 64:: The Aztecs defeat the Big Sky champions, who entered with a seven-game winning streak.

Second round

MIDWEST

Omaha

  • No. 1 Kansas 81, No. 9 Florida 67: The Jayhawks assert themselves and Florida's season ends in the second round for the third straight year.

St. Louis

  • No. 4 Kentucky 69, No. 5 Wisconsin 68, : Kentucky gets revenge on Wisconsin for the 2015 Final Four.
  • No. 2 Creighton 77, No. 7 Michigan 74: The Wolverines nearly pull the upset but Creighton heads to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1974.

Greensboro

  • No. 3 Duke 75, No. 6 Illinois 68: Duke survives the first weekend for a third straight year.

SOUTH

Omaha

  • No. 1 Baylor 69, No. 9 Arizona 67: Baylor survives an upset bid against Arizona to make its fifth Sweet 16 in the last 11 years.

Spokane

  • No. 5 Ohio State 71, No. 4 Butler 65: The Buckeyes show why they were once ranked No. 2 in the AP Top 25 earlier this season with a win over Butler.

Greensboro

  • No. 3 Maryland 71, No. 11 Richmond 70: The Spiders' improbable run ends in crushing fashion with a one-point loss to the Terps.

Tampa

  • No. 2 Florida State 76, No. 10 LSU 74: The Seminoles deny LSU another upset and advance to their third straight Sweet 16.

EAST

Cleveland

  • No. 1 Dayton 79, No. 8 St. Mary's 72: The Gaels give Dayton a game, but the Flyers are headed to the Sweet 16 for just the second time since 1984.

Tampa

  • No. 4 Louisville 73, No. 5 Auburn 70: Auburn's run at a second straight Final Four ends in close loss to Louisville.

Cleveland

  • No. 3 Michigan State 71No. 6 West Virginia 64: The Spartans march on, denying the Mountaineers a fourth Sweet 16 in the last six years.

Albany

  • No. 2 Villanova 72, No. 7 USC 65: The Trojans fall a win short of their first Sweet 16 since 2007 as the Wildcats move on.

WEST

Spokane

  • No. 1 Gonzaga 76, No. 9 Colorado 70: Playing close to home, the Zags defeated the Buffaloes to advance to the Sweet 16 for the sixth straight season.

Sacramento 

  • No. 4 Oregon 76 , No. 5 Penn State 70: The Ducks advance to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year, ending the Nittany Lions first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2011.

Albany

  • No. 6 BYU 76, No. 3 Seton Hall 74: The Cougars narrowly beat the Pirates to make their first Sweet 16 since Jimmer Fredette took BYU to the regional semifinals in 2011.

Sacramento

  • No. 2 San Diego State 75, No. 7 Iowa 72: The Aztecs held off the Hawkeyes to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2014.

Sweet 16

MIDWEST - Indianapolis

  • No. 1 Kansas 72, No. 4 Kentucky 67: Kansas comes out on top in a battle of the blue-bloods and advances to its fourth Elite Eight in the last five years.
  • No. 3 Duke 79, No. 2 Creighton 77: The traditional powers continue to win as Duke downs Creighton to make its third straight Elite Eight.

SOUTH - Houston

  • No. 1 Baylor 68, No. 5 Ohio State 67: The Buckeyes come within a point of one of the tournament's biggest upsets but Baylor survives again.
  • No. 2 FSU 70, No. 3 Maryland 68: FSU sneaks past Maryland in an old-school ACC battle as the Seminoles reach their second Elite Eight in the last three years.

EAST - New York

  • No. 1 Dayton 75, No. 4 Louisville 73: The Flyers' magical season continues with another close victory against a traditional power.
  • No. 3 Michigan State 73, No. 2 Villanova 69: The Spartans are the last Big Ten team standing after a close victory over the Wildcats.

WEST - Los Angeles

  • No. 1 Gonzaga 78, No. 4 Oregon 76: The Zags narrowly defeat the Ducks, the last Pac-12 team remaining in the tournament.
  • No. 2 San Diego State 74, No. 6 BYU 73: Playing in their first Sweet 16 since 2014, the Aztecs narrowly beat the Cougars and will make the first Elite Eight appearance in school history.

Elite Eight

MIDWEST - Indianapolis

  • No. 3 Duke 73, No. 1 Kansas 72: The Blue Devils pull off the upset of the Jayhawks, the tournament favorite. 

SOUTH - Houston

  • No. 2 Florida State 69, No. 1 Baylor 68: After two wins by a combined three points, Baylor's luck runs out in a close loss to the Seminoles.

EAST - New York

  • No. 1 Dayton 75, No. 3 Michigan State 74: The Flyers keep taking down the big boys as they march on to their first Final Four since 1967.

WEST - Los Angeles

  • No. 1 Gonzaga 77, No. 2 San Diego State 73: Gonzaga comes out on top in a battle of two of the season's most consistent teams.

Final Four - Atlanta

  • No. 1 Dayton 78:  No. 3 Duke 77:  Dayton wins its second straight one-point game as it downs Duke to advance to the national title game.
  • No. 1 Gonzaga 78, No. 2 Florida State 74: The Zags and Seminoles meet in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year and its Gonzaga who is in the national championship game for the second time in school history, keeping FSU from making its first title game since 1972.

NCAA Tournament Championship - Atlanta

No. 1 Dayton 79, No. 1 Gonzaga 78: Dayton won its third-straight one-point game and its first national title by defeating the Zags.


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