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Final Four Video Game Simulation: Previewing FAU vs. SDSU & Miami vs. UConn on College Hoops 2K8

Final Four Video Game Simulation: Previewing FAU vs. SDSU & Miami vs. UConn on College Hoops 2K8 article feature image

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Nathan Mensah (San Diego State)

Thanks to the tireless work of the roster editors over at Operation Sports, we have the ability to simulate Saturday’s Final Four via a video game that is 16 years old.

You read that correctly. College Hoops 2K8 was one of the final college basketball video games ever made and remains the best simulation product on the market.

Last spring, it correctly predicted both semifinals matchups, straight up and against the spread. It even nailed the game flow in the Duke-North Carolina matchup, predicting a four-point halftime lead for Duke and a six-point win for UNC.

In reality, Duke led by three at the break and UNC won by four.

See why we’re interested in what the simulation has to say this time around?

The rosters have been updated throughout the season and reflect all-conference honors and award recognition. Additionally resources like ShotQuality, Bart Torvik and KenPom have been used to calibrate pace, offensive and defensive tendencies and coaching preferences for rotations.

In a word, this simulation is thorough.

So, without further ado, here are the results of the two national semifinal games being played at NRG Stadium on Saturday night.

Florida Atlantic vs. San Diego State -2 (132)

The FAU Owls and SDSU Aztecs arrived in the Final Four from the mid-major ranks, but both looked the part of a potential champion in the past two weeks.

Per Bart Torvik, San Diego State was the nation’s top-rated defensive team in the past month.

The Owls, while not as dominant defensively, make their way onto the floor in Houston as a top-30 team from both an offensive and defensive efficiency perspective, according to KenPom.

Call it nerves, call it expert game planning from Dusty May and Brian Dutcher, or blame the cavernous confines of NRG Stadium, but the result was an ugly opening to this game.

The teams shot just 2-for-14 in the opening minutes, reaching the under-12 timeout with the game knotted at 8-8. A Micah Parrish airball on a 3-pointer coming out of the timeout spurred a fast break from FAU, ending in an alley-oop for Johnell Davis.

This seemed to breathe some life into the Owls, who went on a 12-2 run.

Up 26-17 with five minutes remaining in the half, Matt Bradley went to work. After missing his first three shots of the game, the slumping Bradley found his groove in the mid-range.

He hit matching jumpers from each elbow on back-to-back possessions and hit the deck to force a jump ball with 2:17 remaining in the first half.

His inspired play and a late-in-the-shot-clock triple from Darrion Trammell in the closing seconds of the first half helped the Aztecs trim a nine-point FAU lead down to three at the break.

While Bradley and Trammell continued to find success in the mid-range in the second half, it was Nathan Mensah who was turning heads. The 6-foot-10 senior who led the Mountain West in blocks this season turned away four shots and altered a handful of others.

But his largest contribution may have been fouling Vladislav Goldin out of the game with 5:05 remaining. Goldin was coming off of a career outing against Kansas State (14 points, 13 rebounds), but he was smothered in the post by Mensah all game long.

Goldin spun past Mensah on his final possession for a crafty lay-in off the window, but he was whistled for a hook, his fifth foul.

With Goldin on the bench, SDSU collected five offensive boards in the final five minutes alone.

Down six with 35 seconds remaining, FAU’s Michael Forrest canned his third triple of the game off the bench, helping FAU draw within one possession. But Trammell calmly knocked down both foul shots and forced an off-balance 3 from Nicholas Boyd on the following possession.

Jaedon LeDee would split his trip to the line before a last gasp 3-pointer from Alijah Martin found the bottom of the net with 3.2 seconds remaining.

With the game on the line, SDSU’s inbounder, Adam Seiko, used the Aztecs’ last timeout before a five-count was called against him. After the timeout, Seiko hurled a pass deep downcourt to Bradley, who took two dribbles and wisely fired the ball into the air.

The time ran out on the Cinderella Owls and SDSU escaped with a three-point victory and a berth in the national title game on Monday night.

Final: San Diego State 67, FAU 64

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Miami (FL) vs. UConn -5.5 (149.5)

If the Final Four appetizer between FAU and SDSU was played at a gingerly pace, this clash between the Miami Hurricanes and UConn Huskies could aptly be described as a full-court sprint.

In the early going — as we saw between the Owls and Aztecs — buckets were hard to come by for these two teams.

An up-and-down game featured a handful of wide-open 3s that found iron before UConn decided to start feeding Adama Sanogo on the low block. Sanogo scored on back-to-back possessions, the second of which was a put-back dunk over Norchad Omier.

The Huskies built their lead up to eight before Miami’s backcourt started to find their groove. A Jordan Miller corner 3 followed by an old-school 3-point play for Isaiah Wong helped the Canes get right back into things.

With four minutes remaining, a long rebound was collected by Anthony Walker, who made a skip pass to Wooga Poplar. The sophomore wing drained the 3, giving The U its first lead of the game with 3:51 left in the half.

From then on out, a lineup featuring both Sanogo and Donovan Clingan began to pay dividends. Clingan grabbed an offensive rebound and drew Omier’s second foul of the half.

With Miami’s undersized five being a liability, Clingan would score six points and nab four offensive rebounds in the final three plus minutes of action, including a tip back that spun around the rim before falling in the final seconds.

UConn’s mini run helped it reestablish control of the game, taking a six-point advantage into the locker room.

The second half was a contrast in styles. Miami bombed away from 3 and used six Omier offensive rebounds to help it avoid scoring droughts. Wong also got to the line repeatedly in the second half.

The Canes’ work from long range — and the line — was enough to chip away at the UConn lead before a 7-0 run helped them take back the lead and then some with 5:58 remaining.

Up three, Miami surrendered two offensive rebounds off of 3-point misses before Sanogo hammered home a dunk while drawing Omier’s fourth foul. With Omier temporarily on the bench, UConn worked the ball into its bigs and tied the game at 71 with 3:05 remaining.

Omier returned and promptly bottle-capped a Nijel Pack missed jumper, igniting the Hurricane crowd.

But on the very next possession Jordan Hawkins (20 points) drove into the lane and dished it off to Andre Jackson Jr. for the basket and the foul, Omier’s fifth. Jackson would miss the and-one opportunity, leaving the game knotted at 73.

The two teams traded turnovers and then baseline jumpers before Miami had the ball with 39 seconds remaining in a 75-75 instant classic. Wong dribbled down the clock before an iso drive brought him into the lane. He pulled up at about 12 feet and his jumper hit the front of the rim before sneaking in.

Up 77-75 with 14.5 remaining, Dan Hurley used his last timeout. What he drew up was a pick-and-roll designed for Hawkins to get to the basket.

As the seconds ran down in Houston, Clingan set a pick for Hawkins a few steps past the logo at mid-court. As Miller switched onto Hawkins, the sophomore wing cut off his drive, stepped back and fired a 3 from the wing.

A lunging Miller caught Hawkins’ hand and he was whistled for a foul. But it would prove to be meaningless because Hawkins’ shot found the bottom of the net with 1.4 seconds remaining.

Hawkins canned the foul shot and the Canes were forced to heave a three-quarter court prayer at the buzzer. It sailed over the backboard and UConn celebrated a 79-77 victory.

Final: UConn 79, Miami (FL) 77

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