After a tremendous first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the Sweet 16 got off to a dull start Thursday night. It’s still March, but there was no madness. All four games were decided by double figures, and the top two seeds in each region advanced to the Elite 8. Still, we have a showdown looming in the South region between Villanova and Kansas.
South Region- Louisville, KY
No. 2 Villanova 92- No. 3 Miami 69
The Villanova Wildcats turned a six point halftime lead into a 23 point win, and it was over early in the second half. Ryan Arcidiacono and Kris Jenkins led the Wildcats with 21 points apiece. Daniel Ochefu scored 17 points, taking advantage of Miami’s foul trouble in the paint.
The Wildcats exploded on the Miami Hurricanes early. Eleven minutes into the game, the Wildcats sported a 29-14 lead, and they seemed well on their way to a third straight easy victory. However, the Hurricanes had something else in mind.
The Hurricanes bounced back with an 12-0 run to cut the lead to three. Eventually, Miami crept within one point of the Wildcats, announcing their presence on both ends of the floor. Yet, as soon as they stormed back, Villanova hit the Hurricanes with another sledgehammer.
Josh Hart was sent to the bench early with two fouls, but returned in the middle of Miami’s first half run. He immediately paid dividends with six points to help thwart the run. His points were bookend by a pair of Jenkins’ 3-pointers, and a bucket by Ochefu, giving the Wildcats a 43-37 lead at halftime.
No. 1 Kansas 79 – No. 5 Maryland 63
The Kansas Jayhawsk had to fight to win their Sweet 16 game over the Maryland Terrapins. The Jayhawks faced their biggest deficit of the tournament by six points in the first half.
However, the Jayhawks didn’t panic at all. They relied on senior Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden Jr. to dominate the latter stages of the game. Ellis led the Jayhawks with 27 points, while Selden chipped in with 19 points. For most of the game, they were the offense.
As a team, the Jayhawks shot 46 percent, doing most of their damage inside the 3-point line. Kansas didn’t have it rolling from deep, and made 3 of 9 3-pointers. They also didn’t spend a lot of time trying to get hot.
Meanwhile, Maryland kept launching from downtown to no avail. Overall, they shot 5 of 25 from deep, and shooting 20 percent from 3-point range is not a great way to defeat the Jayhawks. During Maryland’s win over Hawaii, the Terrapins only make one 3-pointer.
The Jayhawks will face the Wildcats for a chance at the Final Four berth out of the South Region. Both teams spent time as the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25, and were in contention for top seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova’s loss in the Big East tournament dropped their seed.