WhatIfSports.com and CollegeHoops.net have partnered up to bring you Cinderella Madness 2012. This college basketball simulation tournament features 16 of the most memorable Cinderella stories from the past eight seasons. We invited teams outside the BCS conferences, seeded 7th or lower that advanced to the Sweet 16 or beyond in their bracket to participate. Teams were seeded 1 through 16 and then simulated using WhatIfSports.com's award-winning college basketball simulation engine. Each match was "played" 501 times.
2005-06 George Mason vs 2003-04 UAB
2005-06 George Mason: Jim Larranaga's team
lost to Hofstra in the semis of the CAA tournament (their second loss to
Hofstra in less than two weeks), and few had them on the radar for an at-large
bid. But not only did George Mason get in, they took full advantage of their
second chance, beating three of the sport's great programs in the process.
Victims included Michigan State and North Carolina, followed by Wichita State
(who they beat in a BracketBusters battle that many saw as the reason for
their at-large bid) and a loaded UConn squad. Jai Lewis and Tony Skinn led a
team that boasted all five starters averaging double figures, and their run
was ended by eventual two-time national champ Florida.
2003-04 UAB: Mike Anderson's Blazers were one of the more surprising at-large selections given the fact that they lost in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament to DePaul. And they made sure to take advantage of the opportunity with a wildly entertaining brand of basketball, winning action-packed games over Washington (102-100) and top-seed Kentucky (76-75) to reach the Sweet 16. Morris Finley led three starters in double figures with an average of 13.9 points per game, and three other players averaged at least 7.4 points per game. Two of them were twins Donell and Ronell Taylor, who combined for one of the signature plays of the tournament in a win over UK with a length of the floor, backwards pass that resulted in a dunk. And there was also point guard Squeaky Johnson, who led the team in assists and was an absolute pest in UAB's full-court defense. The magic would run out in the Sweet 16 however, as they were pasted by Kansas.
Game Recap: George Mason 71 - UAB 65 (Boxscore)
It would have been apropos if one of the most celebrated longshots of all time was upended in a tournament comprised strictly of underdogs. Despite holding a 14-point lead at halftime, this fate was almost met by the Patriots. Fortuitously (at least for the George Mason faithful), a furious late-game charge by the Blazers fell just short, as UAB was sent packing with a 72-63 loss.
With six players accounting for 191 of the available 200 minutes, it's easy to understand the lethargic play from George Mason in the later stages of the contest, serving as a platform for the Blazers' run. A 16-5 stretch in favor of UAB tied the game at 55 with just six minutes remaining. Unfortunately, UAB was undone by poor shooting, hitting just 20 percent of trey balls on the night and an unimpressive 36.3 percent from the field, and George Mason's unrelenting pounding in the post was enough to earn the Patriots a pass to the next round.
Will Thomas paced the Pats with 29 points and nine boards, with Lewis submitting a sound performance of eight points, 12 boards and five assists. The Blazers finished with four players scoring in double-digits. If George Mason holds aspirations for an extended tournament run, their woes at the charity stripe (51.7 percent) will need to be alleviated.
Player of the game: Will Thomas (29 points, 9 rebounds)
Winning Percentage of 501 Simulations: '06 George Mason 73.5% - '04 UAB 26.5%
More Cinderalla Madness with the complete bracket.