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 Big Six conferences, seeded seventh or lower that advanced to the Sweet 16 or beyond in their bracket to participate.
Utilizing our award-winning college basketball simulation engine, we "played" each matchup 501 times.
2009-10 Saint Mary's
Randy Bennett's Gaels boasted a heavy Australian influence, but they didn't have to travel far to recruit their most recognizable star. Big man Omar Samhan led the way to the Sweet 16 for Saint Mary's, whose run truly began at the WCC tournament in Las Vegas.
The Gaels won the automatic bid, which they needed in light of an SOS of 116, by beating rival Gonzaga 81-62. The confidence they gained in that win played a role in victories over Richmond and Villanova.
Matthew Dellavedova and Mickey McConnell ran the show on the perimeter while Ben Allen proved to be a capable sidekick alongside Samhan.
Unfortunately for Saint Mary's, they ran into the worst possible matchup in the Sweet 16, and their season ended at the hands of the Baylor Bears.
2007-08 Western Kentucky
The Hilltoppers may have been a No. 12 seed in the Big Dance, but there's no mistaking the fact that they had players that could give teams fits. Courtney Lee averaged 20.4 points per game for the Hilltoppers, who entered the NCAA tournament having won six straight and 17 of their last 18 games.
It took a Ty Rogers three as time expired to beat Drake in the first round, and WKU followed that up with a win over San Diego to make its first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1993. In addition to Lee and Rogers, there was Tyrone Brazelton, a good point guard who also averaged more than 14 points per game. WKU's run was ended by top-seeded UCLA in Phoenix.
-Raphielle Johnson, CollegeHoops.net
In three 2010 NCAA tournament contests, the 6'11", 265-pound Samhan averaged 25.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Fittingly, he helped Saint Mary's narrowly escape Western Kentucky with, you guessed it, 25 points and nine boards.
The Hilltoppers countered with a two-headed offensive attack featuring Lee and Brazelton. The duo combined to average 47.0 points per game during their 2008 Sweet 16 run. In the first half against the Gaels, their 18 collective points helped the Hilltoppers to a 36-30 advantage at intermission.
Western Kentucky maintained their lead until a jump shot by Ben Allen put Saint Mary's ahead 62-61 with less than six minutes remaining in the game. The margin grew to 74-71 on a pair of Beau Levesque free throws with 20 seconds left. Though the Hilltoppers managed to throw up three attempts to tie the game, none connected.
Saint Mary's lost the rebounding battle 32-27, but connected on 19 of 21 free throws and turned the ball over four fewer times. Lee and Brazelton each scored 21 points for Western Kentucky.
Player of the game: Omar Samhan (25 PTS, 9 REB)
Winning Percentage of 501 Simulations: '10 Saint Mary's 53.1 % - '08 Western Kentucky 46.9%
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