ESPN.com simulated Final Four
Now that we've decided which teams should get to the Final Four, we figured you'd want to know who won it.
We took the liberty of running the games on ESPN College Hoops 2K5. Here's how they went down:
Taron Downey scored 21 points to lead six Demon Deacons in double figures as Wake Forest held off ACC rival North Carolina 95-91 in the first national semifinal. Rashad McCants scored a game-high 28 points for the Tar Heels in the losing effort.
North Carolina led 45-42 at the half and had a six-point lead with 15 minutes left before Wake ripped off a 12-2 run to take a 63-59 lead. North Carolina managed to tie the game once, at 72 apiece, but never was able to regain the lead.
All five starters for the Demon Deacons finished in double figures. On the perimeter, Justin Gray had 19 points and Chris Paul chipped in 15 along with six assists. Inside, the Deacons were led by Jamaal Levy, who finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Vytas Danelius came off the bench to post 10 and 10.
McCants was North Carolina's primary threat, going 10-of-17 from the floor (4-of-6 from 3-point range). He received big hands from Melvin Scott, who poured in 22 points (in just 21 minutes) off the bench before fouling out, and Sean May, who had 20 points and nine rebounds.
For the game, Wake Forest shot 33-of-69 (10-of-20 from 3-point range) and 19-of-29 from the foul line. North Carolina shot 36-of-68 (9-of-18 from 3) and 14-of-17 from the line. Wake outrebounded the Heels 34-30.
A late Kansas rally, helped by some uncharacteristic Illinois mistakes, helped rally the Jayhawks past the Illini, 87-84, to advance to the championship game against Wake Forest. Wayne Simien led Kansas with 25 points and 11 rebounds, helping offset big games from Illini guards Deron Williams (26 points) and Dee Brown (23).
Illinois led for most of what was a sloppy game (44 combined turnovers) between two normal fluid teams, and still held a three-point lead with 1:23 left before the Jayhawks outshot them from the free throw line down the stretch. Illinois missed eight free throws in the game, including several critical ones late. Kansas knocked down 19 of its 22 attempts from the line.
Keith Langford had 17 points, while Aaron Miles added 14 points and a game-high nine assists and Michael Lee had 15 points off the bench for Kansas. The only other Illinois player in double figures was Luther Head, who finished with 12 points. Brown fouled out of the game with 3:40 left.
For the game, Kansas shot 29-of-58 (10-of-21 from 3) while Illinois shot 27-of-58 (8-of-21 from the arc). Shockingly, the Illini, who averaged 10.7 turnovers per game during the season, coughed the ball up 21 times (against only 13 assists). The teams ended up even on the glass.
Wake Forest rallied from an early double-digit deficit with a huge second-half performance to down Kansas 95-81 and claim the national championship.
The Demon Deacons, led by point guard Chris Paul (15 points, nine assists, no turnovers), had all five starters in double figures again and outscored the Jayhawks 52-34 after the break to wipe out a four-point halftime deficit. Justin Gray led the champs with 20 points. Keith Langford and Wayne Simien each had 23 for Kansas.
Wake Forest was helped by contributions from Jamaal Levy, who had 17 points, and supersub Vytas Danelius, who had eight points and 13 rebounds off the bench.
Wake Forest shot 34-for-63 from the floor (and a sizzling 9-of-15 from 3-point range) and 18-of-22 from the line while Kansas, after a hot start, shot only 32-of-78 overall, missed 16 of its 25 3-point attempts and shot only nine free throws, making eight. J.R. Giddens and Aaron Miles combined to shoot just 6-of-23 for the Jayhawks, who enjoyed a slight advantage on the boards.
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