March Madness Update: Round of 64 (Day Two)
If day one seemed like a lot to handle, day two was no easier on the heartstrings.
Closely contested battles raged all day long as Saturday's events came with restless energy from all participants, outside of one game that was declared a no contest.
As tight as the tournament face-offs were, some of the hectic headlines were pushed aside as the usual names largely asserted their superiority in the closing moments and moved on past their opening tests, aside from a couple of unsuspecting victims.
The round of 32 is now officially set in stone and the narratives are beginning to form as championship favorites and mid-major miracle stories alike gallop towards every college basketball player's biggest dream.
#5 Colorado 96, #12 Georgetown 73
The Pacific 12 Conference runner-ups squashed the Hoyas behind 16-25 team three-point shooting, a truly remarkable account from a team that shot an average 36.7% from deep this year.
Colorado failed to record a win against a ranked opponent outside of their own conference, arguably the weakest of the Power Five, but looked mightily impressive in their tournament debut.
Patrick Ewing pulled off a miracle by capturing the Big East postseason title after finishing eighth in the regular season but could not provide another stroke of brilliance as his men failed to anchor down on the defensive end.
#4 Florida Sate 64, #13 UNC Greensboro 54
Although the Seminoles finished ahead by double figures, this is not indicative of the battle that was levied against them.
The underdog Spartans gave FSU all they could handle, hounding their opponents on the perimeter and not allowing a single three for the entire game.
RaiQuan Gray stepped up big for the victors with 17 points and seven rebounds, bailing out Atlantic Coast Conference second-team member M.J. Walker, who missed his season average of 13 points by nine.
#3 Kansas 93, #14 Eastern Washington 84
The Jayhawks put on a scoring clinic, managing to get three players over 20 for the game and playing with pace.
The now national treasure Groves brothers combined for 58 points in a losing effort, with older brother Tanner pouring in a game-high 35 to younger brother Jacob's 23.
Kansas has been known as a second half team and continued with this trend, bouncing back from a halftime deficit to win the latter period 55-38.
#8 LSU 76, #9 St. Bonaventure 61
One of the nation's premiere offenses struggled against the unlikely Bonnies, though the Tigers strung enough possessions together to pull away and advance past their first round opponent.
Cameron Thomas was the front man for LSU with 27 points, largely benefitting from 13 attempts at the charity stripe.
St. Bonaventure played just enough defense to win this game, though a 3-20 performance from deep hamstrung their upset bid.
#1 Michigan 82, #16 Texas Southern 66
The Wolverines were one of the shakier looking #1 seeds heading into March after dropping three of their final five games and losing second-leading scorer Isaiah Livers for the season.
Despite missing some of their usual firepower, Michigan won the battle on the boards and forced their opponents into more turnovers than they committed, giving themselves a winning formula.
Texas Southern had a won a play-in game against Mount St. Mary's earlier in the week but could not couple this win with another victory as second-year Head Coach Juwan Howard's squad danced on.
#5 Creighton 63, #12 UC Santa Barbara 62
The ever-popular 12/5 upset was not to be as the Gauchos missed a bunny near the end of regulation, allowing the Blue Jays to escape with a win that was more evasive than they would have preferred.
A double-double form Christian Bishop (15 points, 11 rebounds) was key for the favorites as they avenged their blowout loss in the Big East tournament final.
UC Santa Barbara rode their momentum that had accumulated during a streak that saw them win 18 of 19 games but were unable to come up with a final bucket after responding so well throughout the 39 minutes prior.
#2 Alabama 68, #15 Iona 55
Rick Pitino made history by leading a record-tying fifth different team to the NCAA Tournament but could do nothing but watch as his team unravelled down the stretch, succumbing to the talent of the Crimson Tide roster.
Senior forward Herbert Jones was the catalyst for Bama throughout the afternoon, pouring in 20 of his team's points thanks to slashing drives and physicality inside.
The Gaels were an undersized bunch and although they fought valiantly on the defensive end and kept the game tied for a majority of the early portion, they could not use their heart to defy the prestige of the team in opposing colors.
#6 USC 72, #11 Drake 56
Sensational freshman big man Evan Mobley captained his squad with 17 points and 11 rebounds while the Trojan defense held play-in victors Drake to a deplorable 29.4% on field goals.
USC has great size and ability inside and although they are one of the nation's worst free throw shooting teams, they are superbly efficient with two-point attempts.
Drake squeaked into the round of 64 on Thursday but could not gather any sort of rhythm offensively on Saturday as they were dispatched with relative ease.
#2 Iowa 86, #15 Grand Canyon 74
The Hawkeyes had to grind their way into the round of 32 as the Antelopes mounted quite the challenge, nearly matching the second-seeded contenders in second half points.
Luke Garza assumed his usual position as the leader of the charge for the Big Ten ball club, adding 24 points and six rebounds to his stellar stat totals this season.
Grand Canyon was not completely outclassed in this bout: they just could not string together successive scores and stops in the decisive moments. Center Asbjorn Midtgaard battled back at Iowa's Garza, going for 18 points and six rebounds on the unanimous AP all-American as a nice consolation.
#10 Maryland 63, #7UConn 54
The underdog Terrapins took down the northeastern Huskies in a frequent upset, the dreaded 10/7 parlay.
Maryland made nine three-pointers in only 18 attempts while UConn needed 23 to convert on seven buckets, swinging the pendulum in favor of the DMV natives.
Eric Ayala was the game's leader in scoring with 23, beating his already impressive average of 14.9. UConn's third-leading scorer, Tyrese Martin, was limited to two points after maintaining a 10.7 clip throughout the season.
#4 Virginia 58, #13 Ohio 62
After waiting seven hours between tip-offs, a major upset finally happened. The Jason Preston-led Bobcats removed the overwhelming favorites from the tournament behind excellent execution in the final five minutes and a gutsy performance from junior Ben Vander Plas. This means that UVA has now been beaten in the first round in two of the past three tournaments: at the hands of #16 UMBC in 2018 and #14 Ohio on Saturday. The tournament between? A national championship over three seed Texas Tech.
Vander Plas scored 10 points straight for his team over a three-minute stretch in the second half, helping to establish a seven-point lead with 4:06 left in regulation. Jason Preston then carried his team home, assisting on a couple of sweet backdoor cuts and nailing some clutch free throws to eventually outlast the Cavaliers' late charge. Preston finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Virginia, funnily enough, lost this game because of their late-game defense. Ohio managed to slip a man free under the hoop coming out of a timeout that seemed to ignite the necessary spark in the hearts of the dark horse Bobcats. All-ACC first-team member and team-high point scorer Sam Hauser has now exited the tournament in the first round in all three of his appearances.
#8 Oklahoma 72, #9 Missouri 68
The Sooners escaped past their first round opponent after nearly botching a seven-point lead with 1:08 on the clock, allowing the Tigers to draw within two points in the final seconds. Jalen Hill sank two free throws in the final seconds to put the game away.
The usual duo of Austin Reaves and Brady Manek combined for 42 Sooner points while guard Elijah Harkless pitched in 16 points and 10 rebounds of his own.
Missouri played a fundamentally sound game and scratched eleven times from beyond the arc, though they allowed an 11-4 run to their opponents from 3:44 to 1:08 in the second half. This became too much to topple, as the Tigers left the tournament after a short stay.
#1 Gonzaga 98, #16 Norfolk State 55
The only perfect team in the nation this year posted the highest scoring output and the greatest margin of victory of the 2021 tournament thus far, walloping their played-in opponents by 43 points.
AP first-team all-American Corey Kispert spearheaded the Bulldogs' attack with 23 points as the championship favorites produced an astonishing 55.7% conversion rate on field goals, including 14-27 on threes. Kyonze Chavis and Devante Carter each went for 12 points to lead the Spartans.
If anyone was looking for a reason to reconsider their championship picks, this game did not help. Gonzaga looked unbelievable in all aspects and controlled every second of the contest, floating into their next matchup.
#6 BYU 62, #11 UCLA 73
The Bruins became the lone play-in team to progress past the round of 64 after defeating the Cougars, who could not throw a beach ball into the ocean if it would have counted for three points.
Johnny Juzang made it back-to-back fairytale performance by scoring 27 points, giving him 50 total in the past two days. Juzang had aggravated an ankle injury during an 86-80 overtime victory against Michigan State on Thursday but managed to lace up for the weekend game, guiding his team to victory.
BYU had only lost three games to opponents not named Gonzaga, but still they faced an early exit from the proceedings. Alex Barcello had 20 points in the loss and Matt Haarms had an 11 point, 10 rebound double-double.
#3 Texas 52, #14 Abilene Christian 53
Trailing by one point with just 1.2 seconds on the clock, Abilene Christian's Joe Pleasant marched to the charity stripe and calmly nestled two free throws into the bottom of the net, securing his team the incredible one-point upset over the Texas Longhorns.
The Wildcats snatched 20 offensive rebounds to Texas' five, an astonishing display of strength and persistence. They also pressured the Longhorns into 23 turnovers, over twice as many as the 11 they lost. These two combined to help the underdogs overcome a 29.9% shooting figure on field goals, even as the Longhorns made 45% of their attempts.
The game's leading scorer was Andrew Jones with 13: Jones had appeared to have rescued his team from an embarrassing loss after nailing a go-ahead three with 16 seconds left, though it was Pleasant's free throws that sank the jaws of defeat into the Big 12 champions.
#7 Oregon 1, #10 VCU 0 NO CONTEST
It was announced just hours before the Friday night fixture that VCU had been pulled from March Madness after multiple members of the program had tested positive in the 48-hour buildup to tip-off.
"This is what I have been dreaming of my whole life" said VCU's Nah'Shon "Bones" Hyland, the team's sophomore standout that had averaged 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game in the 2020-21 campaign.
VCU's departure from Indiana means that all five qualified Virginia schools (#4 Virginia, #10 Virginia Tech, #10 VCU, #13 Liberty and #16 Norfolk State) will be watching the rest of the tournament from the comfort of their own homes.
#1 Illinois vs #8 Loyola-Chicago
#1 Baylor vs #9 Wisconsin
#3 West Virginia vs #11 Syracuse
#3 Arkansas vs #6 Texas Tech
#2 Houston vs #10 Rutgers
#7 Florida vs #15 Oral Roberts
#5 Villanova vs #13 North Texas
#4 Oklahoma State vs #12 Oregon State