So says the PlayStation 2

Steve Hammer

In one of the most exciting and unpredictable NCAA tourneys in recent memory, upsets and unlikely shots have carried the day. From the first round, when tiny Northwestern State hit a buzzer-beating three to beat Iowa, to Sunday's game when George Mason stunned Connecticut in overtime, this has been the year of the underdog.

The Final Four games this weekend match up four very different squads with very different strengths. While gamblers, reporters and alumni are busying themselves making predictions about the games, NUVO went to the authoritative source: the PlayStation 2.

College Hoops 2K6, published by Take-Two Interactive, is the No. 1 college basketball simulation videogame. Ranked as the industry best by readers of, the game features up-to-date rosters, full stats and intense coaching controls. For these games, we used the statistical profiles of the top four PS2 online players and randomly assigned them to teams.

The results will come as good news to Patriots and Bruins fans and bad news for Gators and Tigers fans.

Here are game summaries for the Final Four.

(11) George Mason vs. (3) Florida

From the first possession of the game, when a Florida shot was swatted into the fourth row of the RCA Dome by Jai Lewis, this was George Mason's game. Using a variety of zone defenses, the Patriots started the game with a 15-5 run and made Florida play catch-up. By forcing the Gators into taking low-percentage shots, and by scoring in the fast break, George Mason dominated the game from start to finish. In the last five minutes of the second half, Florida made a last-ditch effort, going on a 17-3 run, but by then the game had been decided. Guard Lamar Butler had 20 points for the Patriots while three Gators had eight points each to lead their team. Final score: George Mason 73, Florida 62.

(4) LSU vs. (2) UCLA

The Bruins had difficulty establishing a post game and found themselves taking shots as the 30-second clock was expiring. LSU, likewise, had difficulty posting up and relied on perimeter shooting in the first half. The Bruins responded in kind, and soon the game was a three-point shootout. The game was tied at the half. In the second half, neither team could place any distance between each other. LSU's Glen Davis found ways to get open and drained shot after shot despite being double teamed. UCLA took a four-point lead with under a minute to go, but two quick baskets by Davis, the last one a dunk with 6.2 seconds left, tied the game at 70. UCLA had a chance to win the game in regulation but a 19-foot shot by Ryan Wright fell short as time expired. UCLA's Arron Afflalo went to work in the extra session, scoring seven of his 22 points in overtime. LSU's last-ditch efforts fell short and the Bruins won, 83-76.

Championship Game:

(11) George Mason vs. (2) UCLA

UCLA's Ryan Hollins scored the first four points of the game, setting the tone for what would be a dominant performance by his team. The Patriots' Folarin Campbell tried to respond in the post but was blocked twice in succession. With an 11-2 start, the Bruins seemed to be playing with more enthusiasm than George Mason. Lewis sparked the George Mason comeback by pulling down boards and by feeding the ball on the fast break. GMU's Gabe Norwood stole the ball and went coast-to-coast to cut the lead to five, 16-11. But the Bruins' Josh Shipp made consecutive three-point shots to rebuild the UCLA lead. When GMU double-teamed UCLA's bigs, the Bruins would dish it to an open man for an easy bucket. With 12-17 shooting midway through the first half, UCLA took a commanding lead and locked down the Patriots on defense. A hook shot by Michael Fey gave UCLA a 17-point lead with under two minutes to go in the half. A small comeback cut the lead to 12, but a quick Bruins run made the score 38-23 at the half, with Arron Afflalo leading the Bruins with 16.

"The coach was very pleased with the effort," Bonnie Bernstein reported at the half. "No surprise here."

The Patriots' offense isn't necessarily built to score points in bunches, and it became apparent that the Bruins weren't going to fold. In the second half, GMU stayed even with UCLA but could never cut the cap to less than 10. The final score was 58-44. Afflalo, with 27 points, was the game's MVP.


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