Simulating the state basketball playoffs: How the Class 2A tournament could have played outon March 17, 2020 at 10:06 pm

The 2020 Illinois High School Association’s boys state basketball playoffs will never be completed. All the players and coaches were left stuck just steps from Peoria.

There’s nothing anyone can do about that. But a day after the cancellation I had an idea. Sports video games are huge. I regularly play a computer baseball simulation game called OOTP Baseball. Why couldn’t we do something like that for the state playoffs?

I asked around and found a few people willing to take on the task and ended up deciding to go with The Barking Crow.

The Barking Crow started in 2017 as All Things NIT, a farcical college basketball blog written by someone very bored at work. While it’s still primarily a farcical sports blog, it’s expanded to include legitimate statistical forecasting surrounding the College Football Playoff, the NCAA Tournament, and the NIT.

The Barking Crow used Aaron Britton’s (@NestoHoops) spreadsheets as data for the simulation. They are available on his website.

Obviously this is all totally fictional and made up and just for fun. So I made a few rules. I’m not going to mention any player names in the short write-ups. It doesn’t seem proper to have a high school kid’s name attached to something that he isn’t involved in. For that same reason I’m not going to use any of our pictures.

Just to be very clear: The IHSA has nothing to do with this. The schools and teams are not involved in any way. This is a completely fictional result based on data from the season.

Class 1A and Class 2A will be released on Tuesday.

Check back on Wednesday for Class 3A and Thursday for Class 4A.


State semifinal: Orr 73, Breese Mater Dei 54

The Spartans jumped out to a 20-10 lead and Breese Mater Dei was only able to cut it down to nine by halftime. Orr dominated the third quarter and cruised to the win.

State semifinal: Timothy Christian 55, Sacred Heart-Griffin 52

This one was a lot closer. Looks like it was an excellent game. Sacred Heart-Griffin led 14-5 after the first quarter. Timothy Christian cut the lead to six by halftime and just one point after three quarters. The final quarter went back and forth until Timothy Christian took the lead for good with 3:44 to play. Sacred Heart-Griffin hit a shot to pull within three with 49 seconds left but that was the final score of the game. The computer had Sacred Heart-Griffin as a 1.5 point favorite, so this was a minor upset.

State championship: Orr 58, Timothy Christian 41

Orr has dominated Class 2A for four years and entered this game as a heavy favorite, but Timothy Christian held its own early and led 31-30 at halftime. The Spartans then locked down on defense and held Timothy Christian scoreless for the first half of the third quarter. Orr led 45-33 after three quarters. The Trojans only got as close as ten points in the fourth quarter and Orr buckled down on defense again and held them scoreless for the final 5:07 of the game.

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