NCAA Video Game Picks Kentucky, but Trouble Lies BeneathS

A tournament simulation I did with NCAA Basketball 10 returns a believable national championship - Kentucky 88, Kansas 82 - but the rest reads like 3/4ths of the brackets in your average pool: Lots of chalk, and several WTF upsets.

Yesterday, after suffering with plugging in this year's 64 teams (the sim does not include a play-in game; Wofford Winthrop won a coin toss.) I realized that the latest team progression file, while current on RPI and rankings through the beginning of the conference tournaments, still includes Purdue's all-everything forward Robbie Hummel, who tore his ACL on Feb. 25 and is out for the season. And this simulation has Purdue - which without Hummel got smashed in the Big Ten tournament, scoring just 42 points in a loss to Minnesota - stopping Duke in the regional semifinals 83-81, and then losing to Villanova 93-85 in the regional finals.

Fine, everyone (rightfully) believes this regional was custom-paved for Duke to reach Indianapolis, so we can throw out that result. What about the rest of the tournament?

For starters, higher seeds win 27 of the 32 opening-round games, which is not at all indicative of a year with such a weak at-large field. Also, I saw only three first-round results decided by fewer than 10 points. That means two upsets were blowouts. Again, lots of chalk, with the high margins of victory being a multiplier on top of that. But the mandatory 12 seed upsetting a 5? Well, it went with Cornell, whom few in the know believe have much of a shot against Temple, a fine defensive team.

Vanderbilt is another team that will get upset love from casual pickers because, I dunno, kids there are smart or something. It's overrated at No. 4 in the West regional and makes the Final Four in this sim, clipping Syracuse 92-86. While Syracuse has its own injury concerns, if the file has Purdue at full strength, we can assume it has the Orange at top speed, too.

The sim made one pick that looks like one of those gut calls you see on every bracket: That being the arriviste No. 2 seed, in this case Kansas State, being upset in the Sweet Sixteen. I like it if Pitt's doing the deed; an 11-seed Minnesota team, not so much. And Minnesota is one of two 11s, Old Dominion being the other, getting to the Sweet Sixteen.

And how'd Kansas do in the Bang Bus I mean, Midwest group-of-death? It breezed, smashing Maryland by 24 in the Sweet Sixteen and Ohio State by 28 in the regional finals.

Like I said, I've got real problems with how this simulation turned out, so don't go saying Kotaku picked Vanderbilt in the Final Four. I'm just telling you what the game returned. While the AI tightened some in a franchise known for returning some real off-the-wall upsets in past years, bear in mind this is a game that has now been canceled. It got very little in the way of post-release support before EA Sports pulled the plug on Feb. 10.

To recap: This sim, performed with NCAA Basketball 10 on an Xbox 360, says Kentucky 88, Kansas 82 in the final. Vanderbilt and Villanova were the other semifinalists, with Ohio State, Minnesota, Purdue and West Virginia rounding out the Elite Eight. Oh, and Insidious Tuna's Baylor Bears? Stopped by Old Dominion, 73-70 in the second round. Have a nice weekend, Tuna.