During March Madness, the higher seeds are expected to ‘Survive and Advance’ in the round of 64. Unfortunately for them, the lower seeds were in no mood of letting these average high major teams off the hook on Friday. It’s been so bizarre, there aren’t anymore perfect brackets.
Upsets, buzzer beaters, and controversy are staples of the NCAA Tournament, but last night was plain ridiculous. Supposed Final Four contenders were blown out, and withered from the pressure of the moment.
Northern Iowa and Texas were tied with 2.7 seconds, and seemed destined for overtime. Then Paul Jesperson received the in bounds pass, darted to the middle of the court and released a half court shot. Boom. In a flash, the Panthers’ broadcasters were celebrating ‘One Shining Moment’ while the Longhorns’ players were stunned in disbelief.
Moments later, St. Joes used a 3-pointer by Isaiah Miles to take a two point lead over Cincinnati, with nine seconds left. Troy Caupain methodically dribbled the ball up court, and found Octavius Ellis for a game-tying dunk at the buzzer. Unfortunately, Ellis still had his hands on the ball when time expired. Game-over. The Bearcats were sent packing, while the Hawks moved on.
The shock of the day came in St. Louis. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the way Syracuse handled Dayton in the second half. The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders jumped out to a 15-2 lead, and never let up against the No. 2 seed Michigan State Spartans. There were no buzzer beaters or fluke plays needed in the 90-81 victory. Draymond Green wasn’t too happy about it either. When the NCAA Tournament pairings were announced, it was noticeable where the Spartans were seeded. The Spartans’ second seed snub was as much a factor in their loss as the Blue Raiders’ offensive display.
Stephen F. Austin turned a three point halftime lead into a 14 point victory. It was their 21st straight win, and the Lumberjacks forced 22 West Virginia turnovers in the 70-56 win. Meanwhile, the Lumberjacks only turned the ball over seven times. Thomas Walkup scored 33 points, hitting 19 of 20 foul shots.
With the No. 4 Cal Bears reeling from injuries, they were no match for the No. 13 Hawaii Warriors. Hawaii defeated Cal 77-66, led by Quincy Smith’s 19 points.
The opening day of the NCAA Tournament had four double digit seeds advance to the second round. However, the second day was always the best opportunity for monumental upsets. With four games featuring 15 seeds, and a 14th seeded Stephen F. Austin entering the tournament with 20 straight wins, mayhem was ready to ensue. And it did not disappoint.
Overall, six double digit seeds advanced to the second round, and it could have been much worse. No. 5 seed Maryland held off South Dakota State in the final seconds for a 79-74 win. The Jackrabbits turned the ball over attempting to tie the game, and Rasheed Sulaimon finished the game with a dunk.
Another Big Ten 10 escaped in overtime as well. The No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes used an Adam Wooderry tip-in at the buzzer. The 72-70 win over No. 10 Temple did not come without controversy. Woodberry pushed off before the decisive basket, but the refs missed it.
Some of the favorites played great. The Oregon Ducks dominated Holy Cross in their 91-52 victory. Villanova started slow, but cruised to an 86-56 win over UNC Asheville. Fellow Big East member Xavier defeated Weber State, 71-53.
Middle Tennessee 90
Michigan State 81
Notre Dame 70
SF Austin 70
West Virginia 56
Weber St. 53
Holy Cross 52
St. Joes 78
Northern Iowa 75
Texas A&M 92
Green Bay 65
Oregon State 67
South Dakota State 74