Tomorrow would be the start of the NCAA tournament but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to use our imaginations instead. Because of that, we'll never know if a Zavier Simpson-led Michigan team could've made a run.
Using an NCAA Game Simulator at NCAAgamesim.com, Rob Dauster and Dave Ommen of NBC Sports simulated the entire tournament in order to see how things might've played out.
For a little background, Game Sim uses each teams statistical profile to play out a game possession by possession. The more sims for a matchup helps give a reliable predicted score.
In 2017, Game Sim correctly picked UNC as the National Champion when the brackets were announced and finished in the 87th percentile on ESPN's bracket game.
In 2015, Game Sim picked the two teams in the National Title game and finished in the 90th percentile on ESPN's bracket game.
In 2013, Game Sim picked both the NIT and NCAA champion correctly. Game Sim's NCAA Tournament bracket finished in the 96th percentile on ESPN's bracket game. In its inaugural season, Game Sim also correctly picked Duke as the 2010 National Champion.
In Game Sim's 2020 edition, Michigan made it all the way to the Final Four, along with Kansas, Michigan State and Baylor.
Round of 64
The simulator had Michigan as a 7-seed in the East region taking on Florida in the 7-10 matchup. The Wolverines came away with a 75-60 win over the Gators in one of the more lopsided first-round wins in the region. Noteworthy to Michigan, the simulator had Northern Kentucky upsetting Villanova in the 15-2 matchup making for a favorable draw for U-M in round two.
Round of 32
Because of the unexpected upset of Villanova, Michigan faced Northern Kentucky in round two and absolutely blasted the Norse, 87-49. Eli Brooks led the way for Michigan with 22 points as the Wolverines rolled to a 38-point win despite shooting it poorly from the outside.
In the Sweet 16, Michigan drew West Virginia, a Big 12 team that has been up and down this year and ended up as the 6-seed. The Wolverines handled the Mountaineers, 59-50, and once again got a strong effort from Eli Brooks. Here's the write up from the simulator.
Eli Brooks, who averaged 19 points through the first two games of the tournament, was once again Michigan’s leading scorer with all of nine points as the Wolverines advanced to the Elite Eight with a win over West Virginia. On the other side of the bracket, Obi Toppin’s 17-point afternoon sent the Flyers to the Elite Eight over No. 5-seed Butler.
Dayton always seemed like the most beatable 1-seed to me, and that's exactly what they proved to be against Michigan. The Wolverines defeated the Flyers 72-67 punching U-M's ticket to the Final Four in Juwan Howard's first year. Here's how the simulator saw it happening.
Isaiah Livers finished with 16 points, Zavier Simpson added 15 points and Franz Wagner went for 13 points and 12 boards as the Wolverines, the No. 7-seed in the East Region, picked off No. 1-seed Dayton, ending a dream season for the Flyers.
Unfortunately, this is where U-M's Cinderella run ends. Taking on top overall seed Kansas proved to be too much for the Wolverines as the Jayhawks defeated the Maize and Blue, 73-66. As we saw all season long, horrible shooting from the outside was too much for Michigan to overcome, especially against a talent-laden squad like Kansas.
Kansas would go on to beat Michigan State in the title game, 77-61.
How realistic is this? Did Michigan get robbed of a chance to make it to the Final Four? Could this run actually have happened for U-M? Comment below!!!