NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Recap
(11) UCLA 92 – (14) UAB 75
UCLA advances to the Sweet 16 after being counted out of the tournament by most bracketologists. Most people said that UCLA shouldn’t have gotten in, but they have proven people wrong. UAB did make the road a little easier for the Bruins, however, after UAB upset (3) Iowa State 60-59. Tony Parker who had 28 points and 12 rebounds led UCLA to victory.
(1) Kentucky 64 – (8) Cincinnati 51
Kentucky dominated this game right of the gate, but Cincinnati played one of most physical games that Kentucky has seen all year. Cincinnati was able to limit Kentucky in the paint toward the beginning, but once Kentucky started making outside shots, it forced the Bearcats to stretch out there defense. This allowed for the duo of Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns to have their way in the paint. Kentucky is still my favorite to win it all, and they showed why in this game with their physical, dominant play.
(2) Arizona 73 – (10) Ohio State 58
Sean Miller’s Arizona Wildcats were tested against the Buckeyes of Ohio State on Saturday. The Buckeyes kept the game close, but in the 2nd half, Arizona pulled away. Senior point guard T.J. McConnell, who scored 19 point and added 6 rebounds and assists, led Arizona. The Pittsburgh natives, Miller and McConnell, are moving on to the Sweet 16, and I believe that Arizona has the best chance to beat Kentucky moving forward. I have these teams meeting in the Final Four with Kentucky advancing.
(6) Xavier 75 – (14) Georgia State 67
Xavier was not expected to move onto the Sweet 16 because no one thought that Baylor would lose to Georgia State in the round of 64, but it happened. Xavier was led by sophomore forward Jalen Reynolds who scored 21 points and added 6 rebounds.
(8) NC State 71 – (1) Villanova
NC State perhaps had one of the biggest upsets in the tournament because of how far Villanova was predicted to go. Villanova has proven that the Big East is really the Big Least. Villanova was given a 1 seed in this tournament, but I personally think that Arizona should’ve gotten that final 1 seed. NC State had big contributions from their guards. Trevor Lacey led all the Wolfpack guards with 17 points on the night. Freshman forward Abdul-Malik Abu also gave NC State a tremendous inside presence.
(5) Utah 75 – (4) Georgetown 64
Utah played a fantastic game against the ever-physical Georgetown. The Hoyas love to play physical defense and be physical down low on the offensive end. Utah was able to break this physicality with quick hands and solid defense. Utah was also able to hit some outside shots, which forced the Hoyas to stretch their defense.
(4) North Carolina 87 – (5) Arkansas 78
North Carolina looked to be in trouble in the first half because Arkansas was hanging with them. Also, Marcus Paige looked dazed and out of the game. Paige only scored 2 points in the first half. Paige finally showed up in the second half and scored 20 of the teams 48 points. UNC has moves onto the Sweet 16 for the first time in three years.
(3) Notre Dame 67 – (6) Butler 64 Final/OT
The Notre Dame family was affected by the passing of head coach Mike Brey’s mother to a heart attack just hours before their game. The Fighting Irish brought emotion to this game, which would translate into an eventual victory. Steve Vasturia, who scored 20 points in the OT thriller, led Notre Dame. Notre Dame backed up the ACC dominance thus far in the tournament. After this game, the ACC was 9-0 in the tournament.
(7) Michigan State 60 – (2) Virginia 54
The Michigan State Spartans were one of two 7 seeds to upset a 2 seed in the round of 32. Michigan State beat Virginia by simply outscoring them. Virginia has a crazy good defense, but you have to score points to win a game. The key to beating Virginia was to just simply make outside shots, which would stretch their defense, and Michigan State did just that. Michigan State just simply outplayed the Cavaliers on both ends of the floor. Senior guard Travis Trice led the Spartans with 23 points.
(1) Duke 68 – (8) San Diego State 49
The Duke Blue Devils were in control for the majority of this game, and they were able to control the paint because of the play of freshman sensation Jahlil Okafor. Okafor scored a game-high 26 points for the Blue Devils, and Justise Winslow led the team in rebounds with 12.
(7) Wichita State 78 – (2) Kansas 65
The Wichita State Shockers most definitely shocked some of the NCAA community when they beat Kansas on Sunday. However, many people, including myself, picked the Shockers to beat the Jayhawks. I thought that the Shockers just had a more talented team than the Jayhawks coming into this game, and the Shockers proved that they are Kansas’ team now. Wichita State played solid defense and converted on their opportunities off of turnovers. Wichita State is a force to be reckoned with, and I have them meeting with the Kentucky Wildcats in the Elite 8. It will be an interesting match-up, but Kentucky’s size will overwhelm the Shockers.
(3) Oklahoma 72 – (11) Dayton 66
The Dayton Flyers tested the Oklahoma Sooners on Sunday. Dayton had a 9-point lead with less than 9 minutes remaining in the game, but Dayton went cold from the field. They missed shot after shot, which allowed the Sooners to catch up and take the lead that they would not again relinquish. Oklahoma played a fantastic offensive game and defensive game in crunch time, but Dayton had Oklahoma on the ropes. Dayton showed what it takes to beat Oklahoma, and I do not see Oklahoma advancing past the Elite 8.
(2) Gonzaga 87 – (7) Iowa 68
The Gonzaga Bulldogs made a statement on Sunday against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Gonzaga dominated this game in the paint, which led to open shots on the perimeter. Kyle Wiltjer led the Bulldogs with 24 points and 7 rebounds.
(1) Wisconsin 72 – (8) Oregon 65
This game was a dogfight between the Badgers and Ducks. Oregon had the lead against Wisconsin for a short while, but Wisconsin was able to regain the lead and advance. Oregon’s senior guard Joseph Young wasn’t going out without a fight, and he led all scorers with 30 points. Young was the heartbeat of this Ducks team, but the Wisconsin team was too much for him to handle.
(5) West Virginia 69 – (4) Maryland 59
I had picked Maryland to win this game because I didn’t think that West Virginia was able to match the physicality of Maryland, but boy was I wrong. West Virginia controlled the pace of this game, and they made Maryland play at their pace, which is quick, up-tempo paced play. The Mountaineers will give Kentucky a fight, but it won’t be enough to beat the Wildcats.
(4) Louisville 66 – (5) Northern Iowa 53
The Louisville Cardinals were able to beat Northern Iowa because of the play of point guard Terry Rozier. Rozier scored a game-high 25 points and 7 assists. Louisville is always a dangerous team because coach Rick Pitino knows how to win in the NCAA Tournament.