The first four games of the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 are in the books, and just as you might expect there were upsets. If you have been following the tournament, this will not surprise you one bit. Lower-seeded teams won three of the four games. Two of the games came right down to the wire and encompassed the whole madness theme that March is all about. The other two games not so close.
Sister Jean and Loyola-Chicago continue to be the darlings of the tournament
The 11 seed Loyola-Chicago continued its Cinderella run into the elite eight with an exciting 69-68 win over 7 seed Nevada, another team who was on their own Cinderella run. Loyola has become accustomed to close games in this tournament, winning all three by a combined four points.
Nevada started off hot jumping out to a quick 12 point lead. Loyola-Chicago looked antsy and erratic to start the game. Once the Ramblers settled in and began to push the pace, they went on a 20-4 run and led at halftime by four.
Loyola started the second half just where they left off in the first. Nevada withstood the storm and was paced throughout the entire game by Jordan Caroline (19 points). The games final minutes was a frantic back n forth, which culminated by Marcus Towns dagger three-pointer with 6.3 secs left to seal the win for the Ramblers.
Next up: Kansas St. on Saturday, March 24th
Michigan shoots lights out in rout of Texas A&M
The 3 seed Michigan Wolverines shed their flare for the dramatics in a lights-out shooting effort that left 7 seed Texas A&M shaking their head.
Michigan utilized a scorching hot first half to put the Aggies away early and never looked back. They could not miss from behind the three-point line, anything they threw up went in. I couldn’t believe it, Texas A&M couldn’t believe it, and I’m pretty sure the Wolverines couldn’t believe it. Michigan shot nearly 60% from behind the arc. The only Aggie that showed up was big man Tyler Davis, but it was not nearly enough to erase the shooting barrage of Michigan.
The Michigan Wolverines will be playing in their third elite eight in the last six years.
Up next: Florida St. on Saturday, March 24th
Kansas St. gets first win ever against Kentucky
It was the battle of the Wildcats and 9 seed Kansas St. proved to be the more resilient cat in a 61-58 win over the Wildcats from Kentucky. Kansas St. was not only fighting against history but a pro-Kentucky crowd that was reminiscent of Rupp Arena.
Kansas St. jumped out on 5 seed Kentucky with a 13-1 run to start the game. Kentucky’s size advantage then began to slow the Kansas St. roll. Dean Wade, Kansas St. best player and leading scorer has been battling a foot injury and was only to play 8 minutes. Kentucky took advantage of the absence of Wade and put pressure on the forwards of Kansas St. and got them in foul trouble. Fouls were a common theme in this game with both teams combining for over 50 total fouls.
Throughout the game, Xavier Sneed led Kansas St., but in the end, it was Barry Brown Jr. who sealed the win with 18 seconds remaining. Brown Jr. ran the shot clock down, drove into the teeth of the Kentucky defense and finished over the outstretched arms of Washington Jr. Kentucky had their chance to tie, but their three-point attempt rimmed out giving Kansas St. the 61-58 win.
Up next: Loyola-Chicago on Saturday, March 24th
Florida St. stifles Gonzaga
The 9 seed Florida St. Seminoles took it to 4 seed Gonzaga in a dominant performance. With the win Florida St. heads to the elite eight for the first time since 1993.
The Seminoles size and athleticism was far too much for Gonzaga to handle. Terrance Mann bullied the Zags in the paint all night. Gonzaga just did not have the bodies to keep FSU from scoring in the paint. Gonzaga tried to counter with Johnathan Williams and Hachimura, but neither were efficient enough from the field.
Up next: Michigan on Saturday, March 24th