Exciting day one of NCAA Round of 32 concludes with only one double-digit seed advancing

Exciting day one of NCAA Round of 32 concludes with only one double-digit seed advancing

By: Myles Papponi

For many, there’s nothing better than spending a Saturday in March than watching fundamental and high-quality basketball. The second round of the Men’s NCAA tournament kicked off with a full slate of games that continued the excitement from the first round. This year’s tournament has showcased the agony of upsets and the best showing why they’re just that.

The first team to punch their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen was #2 Arizona with their win over #7 Dayton. Arizona’s dominant style of team basketball has carried over from the regular season and into the tournament. The team had 17 assists, with four players scoring double-digit points against Dayton. After the 78-68 victory, Arizona expects to continue to play this excellent brand of basketball with the hope of playing in the Final Four at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Wildcats will face the winner of the Baylor and Clemson game.

The game between #5 Gonzaga and #4 Kansas appeared to be setting up for an electrifying ending, with the first-half score being 43-44 in favor of Kansas. However, Gonzaga played an exceptional second half, outscoring Kansas 46-24. Gonzaga’s remarkable second half was due to their ability to make shots and Kansas’ ability to do the opposite. Gonzaga shot 60.3% from the field, while Kansas’ field goal percentage was 38.6% for the game. With this second-round loss, by a final of 89-68, the Jayhawks have now left the tournament in the round of 32 for the past two years. Gonzaga will meet either Purdue or Utah State in their next game.

The afternoon games started with a matchup between #1 North Carolina and #9 Michigan State. Throughout the game, these two historic programs often gave viewers a true show. With 4:40 remaining in the first half, the Tar Heels took only their second lead of the game, but from there, they never looked back. Led by head coach Tom Izzo, Michigan State could not do enough to muster a comeback. Michigan State lost the 3-point battle by four, fouled North Carolina 20 times, where they shot 19/23 and turned the ball over 11 times. The final score was 85-69, which was nothing short of the norm for these two programs. In all-time matchups, UNC leads with a record of 12-4. The Tar Heels will have to wait until Sunday afternoon to see who comes out as the winner between Grand Canyon and Alabama.

In a battle between #2 Iowa State and #7 Washington State, the game was a tale of two halves. The Cougars were in control for much of the first half before ending it on level terms, 27-27. Iowa State ran away with the game in the second half, outscoring the Cougars, 40-29, and finishing with four players in double-digit scoring. With the 67-56 win, the Cyclones move on to the Sweet 16 where they’ll face off against Illinois.

Late in the day, a thrilling game took place between #14 Oakland and #11 NC State. The game went into overtime, where NC State outscored Oakland by 6 to win 79-73. Oakland played an excellent game, with Trey Townsend and Jack Gohlke solidifying their now-household names by combining for 52 points. NC State was led by big man CJ “The Tank” Burns Jr., who shot an efficient 9 for 12 with 24 points and pulled down 11 boards. The greatest asset Burns possesses is how well he creates spacing on the floor because of his seemingly effortless ability to pass out of double teams and get his teammates involved. NC State will go to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2015. The Wolfpack awaits the winner of the Colorado and Marquette game on Sunday.

The #2 Tennessee Volunteers earned their way back into the Sweet 16 with a 62-58 win over Texas on Saturday. Dalton Knect led all scorers with 18 points and sealed the win for the Vols with four crucial free throws in the final 8.8 seconds of the game. This marks a second consecutive trip to the Sweet 16 for the SEC school, and will face #3 Creighton.

The penultimate game of the day was between #3 Illinois and the upstart #11 Duquesne Dukes. Duquesne was looking for another statement win after already upsetting #6 BYU in the Round of 64, but it wasn’t to be. The perennial powerhouse Illinois led from the outset and were never threatened by the Dukes. It had been far too long since the Illini had been back to the Sweet 16, 19 years in fact. They’ll play Iowa State with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line.

The madness continued until the last game of the day. The matchup was between #11 Oregon and #3 Creighton. The score was neck and neck throughout regulation, with neither team leading by more than 6 points. The game would go into overtime, and as if players knew fans could not get enough basketball, the game would go into double overtime after Oregon Guard Jermaine Couisnard hit a game-tying three in overtime. Creighton made 15 shots from behind the arc and made 13 free throws to Oregon’s 7. Couisnard would go for 32 points and do all he could to will his team to victory. Ultimately, his efforts would fall short as Creighton outscored Oregon by 13 in double overtime to win 73-86. The Blue Jays will get their shot at Tennessee on either the 28th or 29th of March in the Sweet 16.

Round two continues Sunday, with two Mountain West teams continuing their run in the big dance. #11 Utah State faces off against #1 Purdue and #5 San Diego State plays #13 Yale. Other matchups to look forward to are #10 Colorado, who will try to upset #2 Marquette, and #3 Baylor against #6 Clemson. These and others should make for exciting games on another full day of college hoops.