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The Sports Impact of COVID-19

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I kinda love that an active ballpark with an active MLB team is nonetheless immediately thought of as “neutral site”.

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Just now, Digby said:

I kinda love that an active ballpark with an active MLB team is nonetheless immediately thought of as “neutral site”.

Well, come on, let's be honest, our high school teams may have a better shot at the World Series than the Marlins have.

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I know this isn't the most important thing right now, but I bought tickets to Reds opening day. They said they'd honor the tickets if the game is made up, in which case I may be holding $300 tickets to a random Tuesday night game in August, or refund us if it's cancelled. I'm hoping for the refund at this point. 

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1 hour ago, JayMac said:

Well I have heard that they would maybe play in a neutral site like Miami. Not sure about the truth to that.

 

Neutral site for baseball won't work.  It's fine for a one-game event, but not for a series.  It's easy for NFL since fans have a window of time to make their travel arrangements, but the WS can start within days of the CS wrapping up.  In '08, I think there was a little more time in between, so it was easy for Phillies fans to get their tickets to Tampa and buy absurdly-cheap WS tickets (the team should have been contracted immediately after that WS), but they also knew it was only for two games.  A whole series, that could go 4, 5, 6, or 7 games is just too hard on fans.

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As a way to deal with the lack of sports, I've took it upon myself to simulate the college basketball postseason using What If Sports and their simulation engine to do the dirty work. I know that most people won't care, but I find this to be fun.

 

So far, I'm done with three of the four tournaments.

 

The College Insider Tournament was won by Princeton. The Tigers opened the 32 team event with a miraculous comeback against William and Mary (down 29 at halftime and won the game by 1 point) and used it to fuel their run to the championship with a win over Toledo.

 

The College Basketball Invitational went to SMU. The Mustangs were barely challenged until the semifinals when Nevada pushed them. SMU would hang on and then sweep Indiana State to win the tournament.

 

The NIT is where the fun starts to begin. In three of the four regions, the eighth seed would beat the top seed. The lone 8th seed to lose was Merrimack, who got blasted by Northern Iowa in a 71-38 rout. The Panthers, being the first team out in the NCAA Tournament, would use that anger to get to New York City with wins over the aforementioned Merrimack, Oregon State and Memphis. Joining the Panthers were Indiana, Radford and Alabama. The Hoosiers would beat UNC Greensboro, Tulsa and South Carolina to get there; The Highlanders, the Big South regular season champions, were the biggest surprise as they defeated Notre Dame, VCU, and Clemson (all on the road. BTW, no high seed won a game in that region); The Crimson Tide had wins over Utah, Furman and conference rival Tennessee to get to New York City.

 

The Panthers would win the NIT after beating Indiana in the final.

 

Now, the main event: The 2020 NCAA Tournament.

 

First Four

Nothing big happened in the first four outside of the first game, a 16 seed battle between MEAC auto bid North Carolina Central and Patriot League champion Boston University, going into overtime. The Terriers would win that game and earn a date with top overall seed Gonzaga in Spokane. The other 16 seed game saw Robert Morris, the NEC champion, take down SWAC auto bid Prairie View A&M. This gives the Colonials a date with the South Region's top seed in San Diego State. In the games between the final at-large teams, Virginia and Oklahoma won their games.

 

West Regional

Out in Spokane, the top seeded Bulldogs from Gonzaga had to work a little bit to hold off a game Boston University squad by 10. That would be their lone victory as Stanford, the 8th seed, would stun the Bulldogs in the 2nd Round. The first 'upset' happened as 12th seed Cincinnati, the auto bid from the American, took down West Virginia. Their luck would end as Villanova would beat them in the 2nd round. The first regional semifinal would have the Cardinal from the Pac-12 against the Big East powerhouse from Philadelphia.

 

Over in Sacramento, the first major upset of the tournament happened as 15th seeded North Dakota State, the Summit League champions, would push Baylor to overtime and finish off the 2nd seeded Bears in overtime to produce the (as of right now) biggest upset in the tournament so far. Outside the Bison, the other games went chalk. North Dakota State would try their overtime scheme once again when they took on Colorado, but the Buffaloes had other plans and ended the Bison's season with a 95-86 victory in overtime. This win sent Colorado to their first Sweet 16 since 1969 where they took on BYU.

 

With the scene set in Los Angeles for the regional round, Villanova proved their worth by taking down Stanford. Standing in the way were the Rocky Mountain Buzz Saw that was Colorado. Playing with house money at this point, the Buffaloes hammered BYU in the regional semifinal and then rolled all over Villanova to reach their first Final Four since 1955.

 

Midwest Regional

In Omaha, the top seeded Jayhawks from Kansas had to work a little bit to hold off Northern Kentucky. Making their first appearance since 1991, Rutgers made their trip worth it by destroying Iowa, a conference rival of theirs, while clamping down on Luke Garza, the superstar for the Hawkeyes.

 

Another 12-5 upset came down the pipe as Liberty, the Atlantic Sun champion, knocked off Maryland. The team everyone wanted to see though turned out to be... Vermont. The 13th seeded Catamounts, from the America East conference, rolled past Arizona in the first round. After Kansas edged out Rutgers in the first game of the 2nd Round, the Flames and Catamounts would produce a game worthy of 'One Shining Moment' as Vermont edged Liberty by 2 points in double overtime. The Cinderella Catamounts would now face the mighty Jayhawks in the Sweet 16. Vermont's trip is the first time a school from America East has gone past the 2nd round.

 

Out in St. Louis, things were much more calmer as the higher seeds would win three of the four games with the lone victory for the lower seeds by Virginia, who defeated Texas Tech in a rematch of last year's National Championship Game. In the 2nd Round, it would remain the same as Duke and Florida State won their games and set up a showdown in Circle City for the regional.

 

In Indy, the magic Vermont had finally ran out as Kansas would win by 21. Duke would beat Florida State in the other game. This sets up a battle of blue blood programs between Kansas and Duke for a trip to the Final Four and they delivered. The two teams went back and forth as the game went into overtime... and then a 2nd overtime. The Jayhawks finally pulled away in the end with a 118-109 classic that will go down as one of the best games of the season.

 

East Regional

In Cleveland, Obi Toppin would have a showcase moment as he scored 33 points in Dayton's 1st Round win over Siena. He would be overshadowed in the next round as Jordan Ford and the St. Mary's Gaels would deliver an upset of the top seeded Flyers thanks in large part to Ford's 36 point game. North Texas would also dish out two another upsets as they sent Seton Hall and Butler packing. This would set up the Mean Green (In their first ever trip to the Sweet 16 and the first for Conference USA since Western Kentucky's trip in 2008) and the Gaels (In their first trip to the Sweet 16 in 10 years) in one semifinal game.

 

Out in Albany, order was somewhat restored as the higher seeds all won their first round games. Auburn had other plans as they would roll past Michigan State to make it back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16 for them. They will take on Creighton in the Sweet 16, the first trip for them since 1974.

 

In NYC, the trips for Creighton and North Texas would be short lived as both teams would lose. The Auburn Tigers, coming off that close win, used that momentum to take down St. Mary's and make it back-to-back trips to the Final Four.

 

South Regional

Out in Tampa, the theme of the 16 seeds pushing the 1 seeds continued as San Diego State won by only five points against Robert Morris. The Aztecs would also fall victim in the 2nd round as ETSU would stun them, giving them their first ever trip to the Sweet 16 and the first for the Southern Conference since VMI did it in the 70's. Another 12-5 upset happened as Akron took down Houston, but the Zips were taken down by in state rival Ohio State in the 2nd Round.

 

Over in Greensboro, there was one lower seed upset as Arkansas beat Michigan. Outside of that, it was about Louisville and Oregon on a collision course to meet in Houston.

 

In Houston, the Ducks would have the last laugh with a convincing victory over Louisville. They would get the seemingly unstoppable ETSU juggernaut, coming off another upset victory over Ohio State, in the regional final. In it, the Ducks would fall just short as the Buccaneers would win by one point and break through the proverbial ceiling: Not only would a mid-major program reach the Final Four yet again, it would be one that many consider to be the best in that category.

 

Final Four

 

ETSU vs. Colorado

In the first semifinal, the two Cinderella teams met as the Buccaneers from the Southern Conference took on the Pac-12's Buffaloes. In a valiant effort, the Buffs played hard... but it wasn't good enough at ETSU held off Colorado for 76-67 victory. Patrick Good lead ETSU with 15 points while McKinley Wright lead Colorado with 21.

 

Auburn vs. Kansas

In the other semifinal, it was a total blowout as Kansas manhandled Auburn 99-57. Devon Dotson lead the Jayhawks with 21 points as everything went Kansas' way: They shot 58% from the field, went 9 for 18 from three point range, out rebound the Tigers by 19 and forced 19 Auburn turnovers. Samir Doughty scored 16 points for Auburn, but they were rolled over by a Kansas team that seems destined to win it all.

 

The National Championship

 

ETSU vs. Kansas

The National Championship game was billed as a battle between David and Goliath. The role of David went to East Tennessee State. The Bucs, from the Southern Conference, were a 9 seed in the South Region and blazed their way to Atlanta after taking down three of the top four seeds in the region (San Diego State, Ohio State and Oregon). The Bucs became the first mid-major program since Butler in 2011 to reach the title game and had hopes to be the first since UNLV won in 1990.

 

On the flip side is the Goliath, Kansas. The Jayhawks provided the biggest spectacle of March Madness with their 118-109 double overtime classic against Duke in the Midwest Regional Final. People felt they were due for a letdown after such a classic game, but no one told Kansas that as they thrashed Auburn in the other semifinal

 

Kansas pulled away early in the 2nd Half and proved to be too much for ETSU as the Jayhawks would win 73-63 to take home the 2020 NCAA Championship. Devon Dotson was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament after leading Kansas with 14 points.

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3 minutes ago, Seadragon76 said:

The College Insider Tournament was won by Princeton. The Tigers opened the 32 team event with a miraculous comeback against William and Mary (down 29 at halftime and won the game by 1 point) and used it to fuel their run to the championship with a win over Toledo.

 

We were happy just to be there. GO ROCKETS! 

 

univ_toledo_basketball_sample39.jpg?pres

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The CDC has limited gatherings of 10 or more people at one time......man that's going to affect new Colts QB Philip Rivers.  

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ESPN ran a simulated NCAA Tournament with Wisconsin, Maryland, BYU & Virginia in the Final Four with Wisconsin def. BYU in the championship game. 

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1 hour ago, Wings said:

ESPN ran a simulated NCAA Tournament with Wisconsin, Maryland, BYU & Virginia in the Final Four with Wisconsin def. BYU in the championship game. 

 

Funny... Three of the four teams are out in my version of the Tournament. Maryland got stunned by Liberty, Virginia won two games (First Four vs. Xavier and 1st Round vs. Texas Tech) before bowing out against Florida State and BYU went the farthest after defeating Bradley and Kentucky before getting ran down by Colorado and their Rocky Mountain Buzz Saw. Wisconsin hasn't played yet

 

As for making the tournaments - I just used the final NET rankings to create a seed list for the NCAA Tournament. There were a few issues in doing this (namely trying to avoid a Big Ten based match-up in the 1st Round, but I just said the heck with it and rolled with it). I think it worked out in the end.

 

The same rule applied to the other tournaments. With the NIT, I had to make sure to fit in the auto bids (which included Merrimack, who is ineligible for both the NCAA and NIT tournaments because of their transition to Division I. I wanted to include them to make sure that the auto bids were an even number and San Diego State was NCAA bound no matter what) and they were all on the 8 seed line.

 

From there, it was on the CBI. That was probably the easiest of the three to fill since there's no real rules as to how the teams were chosen. So, the next highest 16 teams were taken for this event.

 

Then came the CIT. This was a mid-major based tournament and I followed the rules that the actual tournament has (Mid Major teams only and College Insider's definition of Mid Major rules out schools from the Power 5 conferences plus the Atlantic 10, American, Big East, Conference USA and the Mountain West). This knocked a few really good teams from the list like St. Bonaventure, Western Kentucky and UCF.

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Yesterday, the USL organization announced that its top two leagues are on hiatus until at least the middle of May.

 

https://soccerstadiumdigest.com/2020/03/usl-championship-league-one-hiatuses-extended/

 

Today, Major League Soccer revealed that it will do more or less the same thing.

 

https://soccerstadiumdigest.com/2020/03/mls-suspension-extended-to-align-with-cdc-guidelines/

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Payton was at the casino at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Arkansas recently, which people had been annoyed with because they left it open when they very obviously shouldn't have.

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3 hours ago, Red Wolf said:

Payton was at the casino at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Arkansas recently, which people had been annoyed with because they left it open when they very obviously shouldn't have.

 

The thing I am most surprised about is that Payton has Twitter and he actually tweets.

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6 hours ago, DEAD! said:

Amidst all the postponements in elsewhere, Australia is still forging ahead with their leagues, behind closed doors

https://www.cbc.ca/sports/australian-football-league-goes-on-1.5503280

Well at least there's something going on now, only problem is the time zone difference. The only other league I can think of still trudging along is Japaneese spring training baseball. Same time related issue though. If I've heard correctly, COVID-19 is waining in Korea (amongst other Asian nations); hopefully the return of KBO regular season action is on the horizon.

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