NCAA Tournament Bracket Predictions: College Hoops 2K8 Simulation of 2022 Field

NCAA Tournament Bracket Predictions: College Hoops 2K8 Simulation of 2022 Field article feature image

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky)

There are lots of ways to go about filling out your March Madness bracket. Leaning into color schemes, for example, is one way to do it. For the record, teams with blue as a primary color have historically performed well.

Team nicknames and live mascots also have a way of convincing fans on the fence. Why go with the boring old Wildcats when you could pull for the Peacocks or hope to get lucky with the Jackrabbits.

There was even a solid theory tied to jersey fonts a few years back. Teams utilizing cursive on the front of their jerseys were outperforming their print opponents.

My point is that there is no wrong way to go about this exercise. In fact, the only mistake is to take things too seriously, because this is a sporting event that proves to be unpredictable year after year.

So I’m here to provide one more outside-the-box prediction tool to add to your tool belt: a video game simulation.

The folks at Operation Sports have kept College Hoops 2K8, a 15-year old college basketball video game, alive by meticulously updating its rosters on an annual basis.

That means that it was possible for me to fire up my old PS3, set the tournament field and record the results for our readers.

Here is how the pixelated student athletes performed from the opening tip to the annual playing of One Shining Moment.

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1st Round

West Region

(1) Gonzaga vs. (16) Georgia State
(8) Boise State vs. (9) Memphis
(5) UConn vs. (12) New Mexico State
(4) Arkansas vs. (13) Vermont
(6) Alabama vs. (11) Notre Dame
(3) Texas Tech vs. (14) Montana State
(7) Michigan State vs. (10) Davidson
(2) Duke vs. (15) Cal State Fullerton

The three top seeds rolled in laughers, headlined by Chet Holmgren’s monster stat line (27 points, 8 rebounds, 7 blocks) against Georgia State.

Then things got crazy. Vermont’s Ryan Davis hit a contested 18-footer at the buzzer to knock off Arkansas.

New Mexico State blitzed UConn, forcing 19 turnovers in route to the classic 12-5 upset.

Davidson kept the upsets coming with a methodical victory over Tom Izzo and the Spartans.

And finally, Memphis dominated Boise State, leading by 22 at one point in the second half.

East Region

(1) Baylor vs. (16) Norfolk State
(8) North Carolina vs. (9) Marquette
(5) Saint Mary's vs. (12) Indiana
(4) UCLA vs. (13) Akron
(6) Texas vs. (11) Virginia Tech
(3) Purdue vs. (14) Yale
(7) Murray State vs. (10) San Francisco
(2) Kentucky vs. (15) Saint Peter's

Compared to the West Region, the East was far more tame. Yale flirted with the upset, leading Purdue 68-66 before wilting down the stretch.

Akron was able to hold on against UCLA, surviving a Johnny Juzang jumper and Jaime Jaquez Jr. tip-in attempt in the closing seconds.

As for the rest of the region, Armando Bacot’s double-double (24 points, 15 rebounds) was only overshadowed by KJ Williams’ huge performance (31 points, 13 rebounds, six steals).

One misleading final score was Texas’ three-point win over Virginia Tech. The Longhorns led by 11 with 90 seconds remaining and the Hokies banked in a half-court shot at the buzzer.

South Region

(1) Arizona vs. (16) Wright State
(8) Seton Hall vs. (9) TCU
(5) Houston vs. (12) UAB
(4) Illinois vs. (13) Chattanooga
(6) Colorado State vs. (11) Michigan
(3) Tennessee vs. (14) Longwood
(7) Ohio State vs. (10) Loyola Chicago
(2) Villanova vs. (15) Delaware

The top three seeds rolled through their competition, while Illinois required a last-minute comeback to outlast the Mocs. With Kofi Cockburn fouled out, Andre Curbelo scored the final six points for the Illini, including the game-winning reverse layup on the baseline.

The Blazers successfully sped up Houston, and sealed it from the line down the stretch.

David Roddy was the breakout star of Round 1 in the South, scoring 34 points on the Wolverines.

In terms of drama, Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell saw his would-be game-winner against Loyola spin out as the buzzer sounded.

Midwest Region

(1) Kansas vs. (16) Texas Southern
(8) San Diego State vs. (9) Creighton
(5) Iowa vs. (12) Richmond
(4) Providence vs. (13) South Dakota State
(6) LSU vs. (11) Iowa State
(3) Wisconsin vs. (14) Colgate
(7) USC vs. (10) Miami
(2) Auburn vs. (15) Jacksonville State

Kansas and Auburn rocked their opponents behind massive games from Ochai Agbaji (28 points, five assists) and Jabari Smith (30 points, 10 rebounds), respectively.

Wisconsin couldn’t climb out of a 14-point second-half hole against Colgate. The Raiders made 16 3-pointers to spark the upset.

Baylor Scheierman caught fire for South Dakota State, burying six treys en route to the upset of Providence.

The Hurricanes’ win was an upset on paper, but it felt like they were the better team from the start against USC.

The Aztecs rounded out the region with a win in a rock fight over Creighton. Both teams shot 37% from the field.

2nd Round

West Region

(1) Gonzaga vs. (9) Memphis
(12) New Mexico State vs. (13) Vermont
(3) Texas Tech vs. (11) Notre Dame
(2) Duke vs. (10) Davidson

The colossal shocker in Portland, with Memphis taking down the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed. Holmgren left the game with a separated shoulder after a hard foul by Jalen Duren in the first half, and Memphis took advantage down the stretch. Lester Quinones led all scorers with 26 points.

Vermont continued its Cinderella run with another game-winner in the closing seconds. Ben Shungu’s and-one with 4.3 remaining lifted the Catamounts into the Sweet 16.

The other two games were near wire-to-wire victories for the Blue Devils and Red Raiders.

East Region

(1) Baylor vs. (8) North Carolina
(5) Saint Mary's vs. (13) Akron
(3) Purdue vs. (6) Texas
(2) Kentucky vs. (7) Murray State

North Carolina’s size bothered Baylor down low, but a questionable offensive foul sent Bacot to the bench with five fouls late in the game. That allowed Baylor to close strong, with a 11-2 run in the final 2:20.

The Bluegrass Showdown between Murray State and UK was fun for about 30 minutes before Kellan Grady hit back-to-back 3s blowing the game wide open.

Texas forced 16 turnovers and got a big game out of Marcus Carr (21 points, eight assists) during its upset of Purdue.

Saint Mary’s was in control yet again, making over 50% of its shots for the second straight tournament game.

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South Region

(1) Arizona vs. (8) Seton Hall
(4) Illinois vs. (12) UAB
(3) Tennessee vs. (6) Colorado State
(2) Villanova vs. (10) Loyola Chicago

All four top seeds handled their business without being put on upset alert.

Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin exploded for 33 points in the Wildcats’ rout over Seton Hall.

Villanova used its expert foul shooting (20-of-22, 91%) to pull away from Sister Jean and the Ramblers.

The Vols built a 18-point second half lead before taking their foot off the accelerator. Kennedy Chandler played his best game in Orange and White (23 points, eight assists, six rebounds, four steals).

And finally, Cockburn was a man on a mission, rejecting seven Blazers shots while racking up 28 points and 16 rebounds.

Midwest Region

(1) Kansas vs. (8) San Diego State
(5) Iowa vs. (13) South Dakota State
96-93 (OT)
(6) LSU vs. (14) Colgate
(2) Auburn vs. (7) Miami (FL)

While KU-SDSU was a snoozer, the other SDSU was threatening to bust brackets all across the country. It took a Keegan Murray and-one with 6.2 remaining to push the game into overtime, and a Jordan Bohannon 30-footer for the Hawkeyes to finally pull past the upstart Jackrabbits.

Auburn and Miami (FL) played a fun, up-and-down game before a 10-2 Tigers run in the closing minutes sealed the win for Bruce Pearl.

LSU was too athletic for Colgate, although the Raiders did pull within two at the second-to-last media timeout.

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Sweet 16

(9) Memphis vs. (13) Vermont
(2) Duke vs. (3) Texas Tech
(1) Baylor vs. (5) Saint Mary's
(2) Kentucky vs. (6) Texas
(1) Arizona vs. (4) Illinois
(2) Villanova vs. (3) Tennessee
(1) Kansas vs. (5) Iowa
(2) Auburn vs. (6) LSU

The Memphis train continued to roll, thanks in no small part to Duren’s double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds).

Saint Mary’s shocked Baylor, with the Gaels being carried by Tommy Kuhse’s 29-point game (6-for-9 3PT).

Tennessee’s backcourt played beyond its years against Villanova, upsetting the veteran team thanks to 27 fast-break points.

Murray was good (22 points, 11 rebounds), but Bohannon was great (five 3PTs) for the Hawkeyes. Kansas drew within two in the final minute, but couldn’t complete the comeback against Iowa.

The rest of the Sweet 16 was by the numbers, with all of the other wins coming by two possessions or more.

Elite Eight

(2) Duke vs. (9) Memphis
(2) Kentucky vs. (5) Saint Mary's
(1) Arizona vs. (3) Tennessee
(2) Auburn vs. (5) Iowa

The Final Four is set and we have zero No. 1 seeds remaining. Memphis knocked off Gonzaga and Duke en route to the Final Four and can thank Duren and a monster game from Landers Nolley II (25 points, seven rebounds, six assists).

Tennessee outlasted Arizona in a shootout, with Chandler out-dueling Mathurin down the stretch. The seesaw affair saw 13 lead changes and seven ties.

Iowa’s dream run came to an end with dreadful shooting from long range (8-for-31) and Murray fouling out with 4:10 remaining in the game.

Final Four

(2) Kentucky vs. (9) Memphis
(2) Auburn vs. (3) Tennessee

Oscar Tshiebwe played his best game of the tournament, with an eye-popping 25-20 performance. Not only did he set the tone inside, he would foul Duren and DeAndre Williams out of the game. TyTy Washington Jr. was also sharp, dishing out seven assists against just one turnover.

Speaking of turnovers, Memphis reverted back to its sloppy ways turning the ball over 22 times in this one.

Auburn made 14 3-pointers and Jabari Smith swatted six shots, including a pivotal one in the final minute. Trailing by four, a Kennedy Chandler 3 rimmed out, was collected by John Fulkerson and put back up. Smith blocked it against the backcourt, which led to a run out and a layup for Wendell Green Jr., sealing the AU win.

National Championship

(2) Kentucky vs. (2) Auburn

The Kentucky backcourt was special in this game. Sahvir Wheeler dished out nine assists, Grady buried four treys, Washington scored a game-high 24 points and Davion Mintz chipped in 11 points off the bench.

The battle of the bigs was one to behold, with Tshiebwe holding Smith in check (14 points). Auburn’s glimmer of hope came in the second half when K.D. Johnson finished an old-school three-point play to help the Tigers pull within four.

On the following possession, Walker Kessler blocked a Jacob Toppin layup attempt, but Auburn failed to capitalize. The Tigers would go into a deep freeze, not scoring for 3:52. UK’s lead ballooned to 14 before Auburn clawed back to a respectable distance in the final two minutes.

All-Tournament Team

Final Four MOP – Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky, Forward

  • Ben Shungu, Vermont, Guard (3 games | 28 ppg | 7.3 rpg | 1 Game-Winner)
  • Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona, Guard (4 games | 21.8 ppg | 4.5 apg | 45% 3PT)
  • Keegan Murray, Iowa, Forward (4 games | 30.5 ppg, 8 rpg)
  • Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky, Forward (6 games | 18.5 ppg, 12.6 rpg)
  • Jalen Duren, Memphis, Center (5 games | 15.1 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 4 bpg)

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Doug Ziefel
Jun 14, 2024 UTC