March Madness Update: Sweet 16 (Day One)
After five miserable days without college basketball, spectators around the country were rewarded with four tremendous contests.
Defense was the name of the game on Saturday, as only one program scored over 70 points and teams combined to shoot 23% percent from three. Every matchup was truly a battle for 40 minutes.
The favorites controlled the day's action with just one underdog managing to slip through, but doing so in a big way. After Sunday's heavyweight action, there will only be eight teams remaining from the original 68: who will go on to capture the title is the million-dollar question.
#8 Loyola Chicago 58, #12 Oregon State 65
The underdog Beavers managed to knock off the Sister Jean faithful thanks to 22 points from Ethan Thompson and elite team free throw shooting (18-20). This puts Oregon State in the Elite Eight for the first time since 1982.
The members of Loyola's starting lineup not named Cameron Krutwig (14 points, 10 rebounds) combined to shoot a deplorable 32.1% from the field, leaving their star center essentially alone in his quest for a victory.
Oregon State has now won six games in a row and nine of 10, including a Pacific-12 Championship over the Colorado Buffaloes— they play elite defense and have a number of players capable of hitting timely shots, making them a dangerous team in the next round in spite of their low seed.
#1 Baylor 62, #5 Villanova 51
The Bears managed to put a woeful 3-19 three-point shooting performance in the rear view mirror as a late-game burst helped the South Region's #1 seed claw past the Wildcats.
Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright appeared to be on his way to one of his most impressive tournament victories ever, having lost his leader and best player in Collin Gillespie prior to the first round, but could only stand helpless as a 15-4 run in the closing minutes powered Baylor to the finish line. The Bears suffocated the Wildcats ball handlers and forced them into turnovers that ultimately decided the game.
Adam Flagler provided a much-needed spark from the bench for Baylor, dropping in a game-high 16 points in 24 minutes of action; Jermaine Samuels also had 16 points, but for the losing side.
#3 Arkansas 72, #15 Oral Roberts 70
The fan-favorite Golden Eagles were one Max Abmas shot away from reaching their first Elite Eight in 47 years, though it was not to be as his shot clanged off of the front rim at the buzzer.
Jalen Tate paced the Razorbacks with 22 points and six assists, though it was the team's effort on the glass that brought them back from an early deficit and saw them through. Arkansas secured 10 more boards than Oral Roberts and and extra 12 on the offensive glass, giving them easy second-chance looks at the hoop.
The nation's leading scorer in Max Abmas played every minute of action, shaking off recurring double-teams for 25 points; the team's second-leading scorer, Kevin Obanor, was limited to just 12.
#2 Houston 62, #11 Syracuse 46
The Buddy Boeheim magic carpet ride was finally ended, courtesy of Houston's astounding defense. Boeheim and Joe Girard III tied for a team-high with 12 points, shooting a combined 7-23 from open play.
Although Houston was also inefficient on the offensive end, they did manage to shoot over 10 percentage points higher from the field (38.3% to 28%). Junior Quentin Grimes led the way with 14 points and four threes, while Dejon Jarreau posted an impressive stat line of nine points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
The Orange were never able to recover from a 10-point halftime disadvantage as the stifling ball pressure that has come to define the Cougars proved too much. Houston has now reached the Elite Eight for the first time since 1984 when their Hakeem Olajuwon-led squad ultimately lost the championship game to Patrick Ewing's Georgetown, 84-75. Jim Boeheim will have to wait for a chance at his second national title while Buddy Boehim has an NBA future to contemplate.
#1 Gonzaga vs #5 Creighton
#1 Michigan vs #4 Florida State
#2 Alabama vs #11 UCLA
#6 USC vs #7 Oregon