Higher Seeds Dominate as Round of 32 Wraps Up

Higher Seeds Dominate as Round of 32 Wraps Up

By Myles Papponi

When expected things happen, it can be calming, but there is something moving when madness occurs. Round 2 of the NCAA Men’s tournament continued Sunday, and while many expected things happened, the day would not be complete without some madness. With eight spots left in the Sweet Sixteen, players continued to leave everything on the court with the hopes of advancing and for the enjoyment of many anxious fans.

The day began with a close game where #2 Marquette would come out on top against #10 Colorado. Marquette showed much resilience and calmness when Colorado refused to go away. With Marquette up by just 1 with a minute left in the game, Marquette Guard Tyler Kolek would weave through defenders to sink a clutch floater to essentially ice the game. Kolek would lead all scorers in the game with 21 points and dish out 11 assists. Colorado went shot for shot against a great team and had to fight their way into the tournament by winning their First Four game against Boise State. It was a tough one for the Buffaloes to swallow. The final score of the game was 81-77. Marquette continues to silence doubters and will go on to play NC State, which will undoubtedly be a great game, considering how well both teams have been playing recently.

Mountain West Conference team #8 Utah State had a rough afternoon after losing to #1 Purdue 106-67. Purdue’s 39-point win was a statement game, showing viewers they will no longer take lower seeds lightly and are determined to make a deep run in the tournament. Purdue outrebounded Utah State by 23, and their assist-to-turnover ratio was outstanding, with 29 assists and only nine turnovers for the game. The Aggies attempted to hold on early in the game by hitting their shots from three and taking care of the ball, but the Boilermakers and star center Zach Edey would be too much for Utah State. Edey led the onslaught by dropping a double-double in the first half and ended the game with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Purdue will have their biggest test yet as they play Gonzaga in the next round, who has quietly been playing great basketball this season.

While the State of Texas is huge, the Sweet Sixteen was only big enough for either #1 Houston or #9 Texas A&M to advance. A thrilling game took place between these two Texas powerhouses. A&M kept the game tight because they scored second-chance points and pulled down 23 offensive rebounds. Houston had balanced scoring with 18 assists and three starters scoring at least 20, led by Emanuel Sharp, who had a game-high 30 points. The game appeared to be leaning in favor of Houston, who led by 9 with 3:00 minutes left in regulation. However, the day would not feel complete without at least a little madness. With 1.2 left on the clock, Texas A&M Forward Andersson Garcia made one of the most clutch and most exciting shots thus far in the tournament when he drilled a three to send the game to overtime. Houston guard Jamal Shead took over the game in overtime, and Houston outscored A&M 14-9 to win 100-95.

The afternoon was kicked off by the #4 Duke Blue Devils taking care of their business with ease against the #12 James Madison Dukes. Duke quickly jumped out to an early lead and continued to pile it on James Madison, winning the game with a final score of 93-55. The Blue Devils’ defense was executed perfectly, forcing 14 turnovers and only giving up four shots from deep. Despite being without freshman guard Caleb Foster for the entire tournament, Duke was able to share the wealth, having 22 assists in the game and four starters scoring in double digits. Jared McCain led by example, putting up 30 points and draining eight shots from beyond the arc. McCain now holds the record for most 3-pointers made by a Duke Freshman in the NCAA tournament, which is quite an accomplishment considering how many great shooters have worn the Duke blue and white. Duke will advance to their 29th Sweet Sixteen and first under second-year head coach Jon Scheyer. Their Sweet Sixteen matchup is against #1 Houston. This matchup will be one to tune into as a historic program tries to defeat a program that has played great in recent years, advancing to their 4th straight Sweet Sixteen today, but has never reached the mountaintop.

Clemson continued its dominant defensive performance against the Lobos with its win over Baylor. The Bears have one of the best offenses in college basketball this season, and Clemson held them to 64 points, only six three-pointers, and only gave up 2 points from Baylor’s bench. Clemson Guard Chase Hunter played another great game, scoring 20 points and 6 assists. After leading by as many as 15, Baylor cut the lead to 3 with a minute left after a late rally and a great game from RayJ Dennis, who gave the Bears 27 points. However, the Tigers were able to hold on and make critical free throws down the stretch to win the game 72-64. From the 6 seed Clemson will advance to the Sweet Sixteen for only the second time since 1997, but should not let this triumph blind them to the fact that they allowed Baylor to fight their way back into the game that should not have been so close, and this could cause them problems against their next opponent #2 Arizona.

The #12 Grand Canyon could not come out on top against #4 Alabama after giving them quite a scare in their matchup Sunday evening. GCU had poor shot selection late in the game when it mattered most, but also didn’t shoot the ball well from 3 the whole game, making only 2 out of 20. The game was played at a fast pace, and, at times, both sides played sloppy basketball, combining for 28 turnovers and 47 fouls. Grand Canyon took advantage of early mistakes made by Alabama, thus making the game close, but Crimson Tide Guard Mark Sears made critical plays at crucial moments at the end of the game to give Alabama the win 72-61. Alabama will face #1 North Carolina, and the Tar Heels appear determined to continue their run in the tournament.

The number one overall seed in the tournament, the UConn Huskies, continued to prove why they are the number one overall seed with a dominant win over the #9 Northwestern Wildcats. UConn’s highest lead during the game was 30, and they shot 53.7% from the field as a team. No matter who UConn faces, they continue to play their brand of basketball and do the things needed to win. The team made just three shots from deep but only allowed Northwestern to make four and then concentrated on owning the paint. Two of the Huskies starters entered the game with double-doubles; center Donovan Clingan had 14 points and 14 boards, and guard Tristen Newton assisted the ball ten times and gave his team 20 points. The final score of the game was 75-58.

Only one spot left in the Sweet Sixteen, and it would go to either Ivy League Tournament Champs #13 Yale or Mountain West Tournament Runner-up #5 San Diego State. San Diego State never trailed in this matchup and would also win the rebound battle by 14 and the three-point battle by four. The Aztecs would roll over Yale, winning 85-57. Their effort was led by Jaedon LeDee, who scored 26 points and 9 rebounds. San Diego State will move on to its second straight Sweet Sixteen appearance, where they will face UConn in a rematch of last year’s national title game.

Fans will have to wait until Thursday to witness Sweet Sixteen action, but as always, it will be worth the wait. Waiting teaches people to appreciate what they have waited for. Truly appreciate this time in March because something authentic and indescribable is bound to happen.