March Madness Update: Round of 32 (Day One)
The third day in bracket play came and went with no shortage in excitement or noteworthy events as unlikely heroes paved their way into the Sweet Sixteen while championship favorites had to get their tickets for tomorrow's plane ride home.
March's madness was on display from start to finish but was not limited to: a missed layup at the buzzer, the prayer of a 101-year old woman and a father-son duo toppling a heavy favorite.
Only one weekend into the tournament and there are no perfect brackets remaining: it is about time sports fans forget their terrible predictions and kick back for some good old-fashioned college basketball.
#1 Illinois 58, #8 Loyola Chicago 71
The Ramblers surmounted the second-leading choice for tournament champions as they clamped down on Illinois' Ayo Dosunmu, holding him to nine points and his first single-digit scoring performance of the season.
Cameron Krutwig was a starter on the Loyola Final Four team of a few years ago and led his squad on their journey back to the ultimate stage, recording 19 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Kofi Cockburn was good for 21 points and nine rebounds on the losing side of the event but could not lead a late-game comeback as Loyola continued to impose themselves physically, just as they had done from the opening tip.
#1 Baylor 76, #9 Wisconsin 63
The Bears took a 42-29 lead into the intermission and exploded out of the tunnel, extending their advantage to 18 to start the second period.
Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell were their typical, elite selves, though it was Matthew Mayer that came off the pine to lead the team with 17 points.
There were concerns about Baylor's confidence entering the tournament following a handful of wavering performances to close the regular season, but the Bears have quelled these qualms with a couple of easy victories to open their 2021 postseason.
#3 West Virginia 72, #11 Syracuse 75
The Jim and Buddy Boeheim duo toppled the Mountaineers and their rigid defense on the strength of Buddy's 25 points, 22 of which came in the second half.
Joe Girard III took it to West Virginia in the first half as Syracuse's supporting cast had their best start in recent memory. Girard began 3-3 from deep and matched WVU's momentum-boosting buckets with triples of his own.
Sean McNeil scored 23 for the losing side as the Orange's stifling zone defense limited their opponents to just 37.1% shooting from the floor.
#3 Arkansas 68, #6 Texas Tech 66
The Razorbacks and the Red Raiders matched each other with 35 second half points, making a two-point Arkansas halftime advantage the deciding factor in the ballgame.
Kyler Edwards had a chance to tie the game with three seconds left when he missed a contested but makable left-handed layup in transition. The Razorbacks secured the rebound and along with it, a ticket to the Sweet Sixteen.
Terrence Shannon Jr. had 20 points for Texas Tech while their usual star, Mac McClung, was held to a substandard nine. Justin Smith was the standout for the victors with 20 points and six rebounds.
#2 Houston 63, #10 Rutgers 60
The lowly-favored Scarlet Knights actually held a nine-point lead with 4:55 left in regulation, only to blow their lead by allowing Houston to close the game on a 14-2 run.
Tramon Mark converted an and-one layup with 24 seconds on the clock that put his team ahead, ultimately proving to be the deciding blow in the weekend bout.
Quentin Grimes played all 40 minutes for the Cougars and scored 15 of his 22 points from beyond the arc, finishing 5-9 from three-point land. DeJon Jarreau backed him up with 17 points of his own but was seen grabbing his hip throughout the game, suggesting his health status may be in question for the remainder of the tournament.
#7 Florida 78, #15 Oral Roberts 81
The Cinderella Story of the 2021 tournament danced on by defeating the seventh-seeded Gators two days after they shocked the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Kevin Obanor poured in a game-high 28 points while the nation's leading scorer, Max Abmas, went for 26. This dynamic duo is largely to thank for Oral Roberts' good fortunes this tournament as they have now combined for 59 and 54 points in the Golden Eagles' first two games.
Tre Mann had 19 points and seven rebounds for Florida but could not recreate his clutch shot-making from the round of 64, narrowly missing a game-tying, step-back three with eight seconds left in the game.
#5 Villanova 84, #13 North Texas 61
Jay Wright pulled a rabbit out of the hat again by guiding his group of men past a tournament opponent without their best player and leader, Collin Gillespie. Four Wildcats scored in double figures and the team went 15-30 from three-point land as a complete performance was key in Villanova advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.
North Texas pounced on their adversaries in the first half and took a nice lead, only to allow a 34-6 run to close out the opening stanza.
Javion Hamlet had a game-high 25 points on the side of the Mean Green, improving on his first round output by one point, but could not find enough support from his teammates to get past the prohibitive favorites.
#4 Oklahoma State 70, #12 Oregon State 80
Oregon State continued their late season charge that began at the start of the Pacific-12 Conference by defeating the Oklahoma State Cowboys and future NBA lottery pick Cade Cunningham.
The Beavers let a once 18-point lead disintegrate to a two-point contest, only to close the game on a 10-3 run
Ethan Thompson led all players with 26 points, 15 of which came from the charity stripe, as the Beavers made 32 of their 35 free throws while the Cowboys could only sink 26 of their 38.
#2 Iowa vs #7 Oregon
#1 Gonzaga vs #8 Oklahoma
#11 UCLA vs #14 Abilene Christian
#5 Creighton vs #13 Ohio
#1 Michigan vs #8 LSU
#4 Florida State vs #5 Colorado
#2 Alabama vs #10 Maryland
#3 Kansas vs #6 USC