Final Four Video Game Simulation: Previewing Villanova vs. Kansas & North Carolina vs. Duke on College Hoops 2K8
Quinn Harris/Getty Images. Pictured: Remy Martin.
Thanks to the tireless work of roster editors over at Operation Sports, we have the ability to simulate Saturday’s Final Four on, arguably, the greatest college basketball video game ever made: College Hoops 2K8.
The rosters themselves have been meticulously edited to reflect the real on-court versions of each player. This includes the removal of Villanova’s Justin Moore due to his injury. The ratings are based upon a combination of the players’ statistical accomplishments, national and conference accolades and NBA Draft projections.
Additionally, coaching and team tendencies have been tweaked to reflect preferred pace and shot selection frequencies in line with ShotQuality and KenPom. Suffice to say, this is about as realistic a simulation as you’ll find out in the market today.
So, without further ado, here are the results of the two national semifinal games being played at the Caesars Superdome on Saturday.
Villanova vs. Kansas -4.5 (133)
The Wildcats had the unenviable task of replacing Moore’s production in this one. The senior was VU’s leader in minutes, second in scoring and a tremendous rebounder for a guard.
In the early going, it was clear that Jay Wright had planned to get Brandon Slater more involved offensively to offset the loss of Moore.
Slater closed the regular season and Big East Tournament strong, averaging 11 points across his final 12 games prior to the Big Dance. But in NCAA Tournament play, Slater had just five points through four games. He would score five points in the first two minutes against Kansas.
Villanova built a 17-11 lead by the second media timeout of the first half. Slater opened 2-of-4 from long range, and David McCormack picked up his second foul with 11:12 remaining in the first half.
Things changed from there, as Mitch Lightfoot sparked a 12-0 KU run with an offensive rebound, putback and foul call on Jermaine Samuels. Lightfoot’s old-school 3-point play was followed up with a steal from Dajuan Harris Jr. and a transition 3 from Christian Braun. By the end of the run, KU had erased a six-point deficit and had built six-point lead of its own.
On the final possession of the first half, leading 37-33, Remy Martin buried a 33-foot buzzer-beater to send Kansas into the locker room with a comfortable seven-point lead.
The second half began with Collin Gillespie burying a catch-and-shoot 3 and a Samuels baseline rejection of Christian Braun. This set the tone for a seesaw final 20 minutes that featured four lead changes.
Nursing a three-point lead with 2:15 remaining, Ochai Agbaji collected a long offensive rebound, pump-faked in the corner, drove to the basket and rattled home a floater over Caleb Daniels. Agbaji came down on top of Daniels and drew a blocking foul. After his foul shot dropped, KU had increased its lead to six.
In desperation mode, Slater missed a 3 from the wing, leading to a run out and Jalen Wilson slam.
Nova wouldn’t claw closer to the Jayhawks than six points in the final 90 seconds, sending Bill Self and KU back to the national championship.
Final: Kansas 74, Villanova 68
North Carolina vs. Duke -4 (151)
The historic rubber match between these Tobacco Road neighbors lived up to the hype. Both teams made runs of 8-0 or better during the first half alone, and they tripled the fastbreak points scored in Kansas-Villanova (42 UNC-Duke, 13 VU-KU). The up-and-down game was also tied at the final media timeout, setting the stage for an exciting ending.
Duke, and Trevor Keels in particular, set the tone early with a 13-5 run to open the game. Keels led Duke with 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting from the field. He also chipped in nine rebounds.
North Carolina responded to Duke’s early blitz with three straight possessions scoring three points. A Brady Manek triple, Armando Bacot and-one and an R.J. Davis corner 3 helped the Tar Heels erase Duke’s early lead in less than 60 seconds.
Bacot had a monster game and sent Mark Williams to the bench halfway through the first half with his second foul. Theo John would play significant minutes as a result, chipping in eight points and three rebounds before fouling out in the second half. On the night, Bacot drew an incredible 11 fouls.
Despite Bacot’s outburst, Duke closed the first half strong with an 8-0 run in the final 1:37. A Paolo Banchero jumper got things started before a Davis turnover led to a Wendell Moore Jr. reverse layup.
After a Brady Manek 3 rattled out with 14 seconds remaining, Banchero drew a foul on a 3 at the top of the key. He double-clutched the shot and banked it home, drawing a wild roar from the crowd. Duke entered the locker room leading, 47-43.
The second half was a showcase for Bacot and UNC’s long-range shooting.
Sprinkled in was a strong performance off the bench from Justin McKoy (17 mins, 6 pts, 3 rebs). His biggest contribution came from drawing a pair of offensive foul calls, the second of which was Williams’ fifth foul with 5:02 remaining in the game.
With the game tied at 75 with 3:56 remaining, both teams slowed things down a bit. The slower half-court game didn’t seem to suit either, with Duke settling for a contested AJ Griffin jumper and UNC firing an off-balance baseline jumper just to avoid a shot clock violation.
The difference for UNC was Bacot, who bottle-capped the miss with John on his arm. His and-one gave the Tar Heels a lead they would never relinquish.
Leaky Black coaxed another errant 3-point attempt out of Griffin with nine seconds remaining, and UNC dribbled out the clock. After a brief handshake from Coach K, Hubert Davis joined his players in celebrating in front of the UNC band.
Final: North Carolina 90, Duke 84
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