Despite being nearly five years old, NCAA Basketball 10 still plays remarkably well. Even when it's the CPU playing itself. In this edition of the video game series it was the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden with Illinois taking on the Villanova Wildcats. It was definitely the most thrilling simulation to watch so far this season. Here's a full summary of how it went down.
The Illini looked a little timid early-on in this game, chucking up several contested three's and missing some easy layups too. At the under-sixteen timeout the Wildcats had jumped out to an 8-2 lead and were seemingly in control. But Illinois and Rayvonte Rice quickly responded with back-to-back shots from behind the arc and halfway through the first half the game was tied 15-15.
Nnanna Egwu got into foul trouble and forced Groce to use his bench rotation of Maverick Morgan, Austin Colbert, and Michael Finke more often than he probably wanted to. As a side note, you can't redshirt players in NCAA 10 so there is really no way of "preventing" the computer from allowing Finke to play. But the Illini certainly lost some size in the frontcourt with Egwu's two early fouls and that affected the points in the paint, which Villanova was dominating 18-4.
So Illinois had to rely on their three-point shooting to jump-start their offense, and unlike the Miami game, it worked. Malcolm Hill, Aaron Cosby, and Ahmad Starks all hit shots from deep and headed into the halftime break the game was tied at 25 points a piece. This was shaping up to be an excellent second-half battle between two shut-down defenses.
Halftime: Villanova 25, Illinois 25
The defenses for both teams somewhat fell apart in the second half, and allowed for the offenses to really get in their respective grooves. Villanova guard Dylan Ennis was on fire from the floor, and he finished with 19 points on the night. But Rayvonte Rice and the Illini kept finding a way to answer and the game was once again tied at the under-eight timeout of the second half, 48-48.
Now keep in mind that I'm never actually playing this game, I'm just watching the CPU play itself. That being said, the remaining eight minutes of this game were a hell of a lot fun to experience. Starks and Cosby hit back-to-back three's to put the Illini up six, and Jay Wright called a full timeout. But then the Wildcats responded with Ennis and Darrun Hilliard II tying the game up at 54 a piece. Egwu and Hill hit shots to put the Illini up four with under a minute to go, but the Wildcats hit a pair of free-throws and the game went into overtime tied at 62-62.
Regulation Time: Villanova 62, Illinois 62
This is when the Illini, whether it was from pure exhaustion or just bad shots being taken, fell apart. The Wildcats started the extra five minutes on a 6-0 run and ended up winning the game by eight. Despite the Illini losing, it was nevertheless an excellent effort put up against 7th-ranked Villanova. Let's hope the game tonight is as good as this simulated one was.
Final: Villanova 74, Illinois 66