March Madness has been dubbed “March Sadness” this season as college basketball fans sulk about the lack of buzzer-beaters and bracket-busting upsets.
With no brackets to fill out and no highlights to absorb, the country has been at a sports standstill.
Spokane specifically missed out on an opportunity to host the NCAA Tournament and Gonzaga lost before it even had a chance to compete.
So for some solace, SWX’s Sam Adams sprouted an idea. What about an SWX-hosted Selection Sunday, with a bracket reveal and virtual game simulations to determine the national champion? He named it the “QuaranTourney.”
On the surface, this idea has been done before. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi releases a bracket, ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) simulates the winner and one team survives the craziness. But this one is different.
Instead, Adams crafted his own bracket, taking 18 hours to mimic a real-life bracket without copying other analysts’ brackets. He wanted the bracket to be a realistic representation of a possible bracket that would have been released on Selection Sunday.
Then he needed a simulator. He found Wolverine Studios, which designs sports simulations, including ones for pro and college basketball and football. NCAA Basketball 2020 was his simulator on PC.
Adams found a modder (someone who modifies a video game) on Twitter, @SkillzFromThe6, who adds college basketball teams to NBA 2K so players around the country can play as their favorite college basketball teams.
On Tuesday night, Adams released the official bracket with Gonzaga as a No. 1 seed in the West Region, along with No. 1s Kansas, Baylor and Dayton.
As the tournament progresses, Adams will simulate the games and have people play the games live on Twitch, playing the games on his PlayStation 4. The plan is for the simulations to be as realistic as possible while also providing a fun event to track.
This isn’t the first time Adams has used video games to give a different spin on a sporting event.
In 2002, when he worked in Medford, Oregon, he had the thought to edit rosters and jerseys to match North and South Medford high schools and have their players compete against each other to see who would win.
In 2009, he simulated the NCAA football national championship on air. He had his wife and a neighbor play, then had the game play itself out just to see what the outcome was.
Adams has been using TV and video games together on and off for the last 18 years. Now SWX has its own Twitch account, @JustAddMonsters, which it will use to broadcast the basketball games live.
Adams will cut highlights from the games and broadcast them like a real highlight reel.
“So I’m hoping that people will see this and go, ‘Look, we don’t have March Madness, we don’t have the NCAA Tournament, but we’ve got something,’ ” Adams said. “We’ve got this thing where we can watch the highlights, we can follow the scores. We can fill out a bracket, we have an online bracket that you can fill out that you can submit your bracket and among your friends and co-workers.”
Eastern Washington is featured in the tournament. Its men’s basketball head coach, Shantay Legans, may make an appearance on the Twitch stream.
“I’m hoping as we play more and more games that people are just getting their popcorn ready and want to see who’s going to win every night and have some sports highlights to watch,” Adams said.
Adams wants his simulations to serve as a distraction and a place of normalcy in a time when normal doesn’t apply.
“If it gets one person to get their mind off of the quarantine and off coronavirus … there’s not a whole lot of good news to be found right now,” Adams said. “Seriously, if this helps one person just get their mind off of things for 3 minutes every day, and they have something to look forward to, I figured that’s a win.”
Follow along at SWXRightNow.com and @QuaranTourney on Twitter for updates.
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