March Madness 2020 simulation: No. 12 seed East Tennessee St. makes Final Four

March Madness lives on. Following the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament, The Post projected the final bracket and will spend the rest of the week presenting round-by-round results produced via online simulation, thanks to our friends at whatifsports.com.

East Tennessee State would be everyone’s favorite mid-major. Coach Steve Forbes’ agent would need a second phone to handle all the calls from athletic directors. Stars Tray Boyd III and Bo Hodges would be household names.

Meet the Cinderella that wasn’t.

In The Post’s simulated NCAA Tournament, the 12th-seeded Buccaneers, out of the Southern Conference, are headed to Atlanta for their first Final Four, after manhandling powerhouse Michigan State, 83-64, in the Midwest Regional final, becoming the lowest seed to advance to college basketball’s premier event.

The game was never in doubt. The second-seeded Spartans scored the first two points and never led again, trailing by 12 at halftime and 18 in the second half. They shot a ghastly 37.7 percent from the field and couldn’t defend against East Tennessee State, allowing the Buccaneers to shoot 51.8 percent from the field.

Hodges, a junior guard, did a little bit of everything — with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists — and Boyd added 13 points.

In the Tournament for the first time since 2017, the Buccaneers’ rout made history. No 12th seed has ever reached the Final Four. Just five double-digit seeds — one 10th seed and four 11th seeds — have done so. The run shouldn’t come as a complete shock. This team entered the Tournament with 30 victories, pushed Kansas on the road, and beat LSU and Winthrop, a fellow Cinderella, during a dominant regular season. The Buccaneers also won their four simulated tournament games by at least 10 points apiece.

Next up is a national semifinal matchup with Duke, the East Regional winner and No. 3 seed that routed former ACC rival and No. 4 Maryland, 99-66, behind 21 points apiece from Vernon Carey (14 rebounds) and Tre Jones. The Blue Devils led by 18 at halftime and barely had to sweat, hitting 13 of 27 from 3-point range and shooting 52.4 percent from the field in reaching their first Final Four since 2015, when they won the national title.

Fourth-seeded Oregon led by 12 just 6:42 into the West Regional final and cruised past No. 2 San Diego State, 86-76, returning to the Final Four three years after its last appearance. Chris Duarte scored 20 points and Payton Pritchard added 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Ducks, who put up 55 first-half points in building a 19-point lead at the break.

Oregon has not won the national title since 1939, the year of the inaugural Tournament.

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