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March Madness Update: Sweet 16 (Day Two)

By Grant Mitchell | March 28
March Madness Update: Sweet 16 (Day Two)
UCLA celebrating their victory on the court (photo via the Los Angeles Times).

The remaining #1 seeds secured a trip to the next round while the surprise dominance of the Pacific-12 Conference continued, as a total of three West Coast schools punched their tickets to the Elite Eight, the most of any conference.

Sunday also marked the first time that two double-digit seeds have made the Elite Eight since 2002, supplying even more "madness" to a COVID-ridden season.

One of the most common bets at the start of the tournament was Gonzaga versus the field— the Bulldogs are still hanging tough, though their competition looks slightly different than anticipated.

Game One

#1 Gonzaga 83, #5 Creighton 65

As solid as Creighton appeared in the opening period, the Bulldogs were simply too much to handle. The Blue Jays attempted to alternate the pace of the game to catch the favorites off guard and played tight defense, but the nation's only undefeated team was just too good.

Drew Timme helped to bury Creighton with 22 points and six rebounds, while Andrew Nembhard also had a tremendous performance with 17 points and eight assists. Marcus Zegarowski led the defeated Blue Jays with 19 points, though he was unable to effect the game in the latter half.

What should be terrifying for opposing teams is how easy Gonzaga makes every game look: they throw excellent, crisp passes, have incredible intelligence on both ends of the court and selflessly work together. Jalen Suggs, a presumptive top-three pick in the upcoming NBA draft, was the lowest-scoring Bulldog starter with nine points, yet they still easily won by 18: that should say enough.

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Drew Timme laying the ball off the glass for two points (photo via the New York Post).

Game Two

#1 Michigan 76, #4 Florida State 58

If there were ever any doubts about the Wolverines' ability to play without Isaiah Livers, or under the guidance of an inexperienced college coach in Juwan Howard, they have officially been laid to rest.

Michigan held the Seminoles 21 points under their regular scoring average as a team and forced them into 14 turnovers, dismantling their entire offensive approach.

This game was not close past the opening five minutes: four Michigan players scored 12+ points while Florida State only managed two players with double-digit scoring tallies as the Wolverines waltzed into the next round.

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Hunter Dickinson flushing the ball over Seminole defenders (photo via the New York Post).

Game Three

#2 Alabama 78, #11 UCLA 88

An overtime-forcing three from Bama forward Alex Reese only prolonged the inevitable as the Bruins stormed past the Crimson Tide, making them just the second play-in team to reach the Elite Eight; the other being the 2011 VCU squad that fell to Butler in the Final Four.

Jaime Jaquez (17 points, eight rebounds) was the man of the moment, sinking numerous clutch shots in the absence of the team's leading scorer, Johnny Juzang, who fouled out with just under two minutes left in the second half. The backcourt pairing of Tyger Campbell and Jules Bernard were also phenomenal for the Bruins, combining for 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

The Crimson Tide made more threes than any other team in college basketball this year and only allowed opponents to shoot 29.8% from deep; in Sunday's game, they only made seven of 28 triples while UCLA buried 10 of 29. Add this uncharacteristic performance from the perimeter to 14 missed free throws in 25 attempts, and Alabama lost themselves the game. Jahvon Quinerly had 20 points in the losing effort while Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Herbert Jones was limited to eight points and nine rebounds.

UCLA's defense swarming to the ball (photo via the Los Angeles Times).

Game Four

#6 USC 82, #7 Oregon 68

A 20-7 first half run helped boost the Trojans to what became a relatively comfortable Sunday night victory. Although the Ducks brought the game to a nine-point differential with just under four minutes left, USC never seemed threatened by their fellow PAC-12 opposition.

Eugene Omoruyi and Chris Duarte combined 49 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists for the Ducks, though the rest of the team only contributed 19 points on 26.5% field goal shooting.

Isaiah White headlined the USC side of the events with 22 points, five rebounds and three steals, while Tahj Eaddy contributed another 20 points. The two guards made eight of the team's 10 threes in just 11 attempts, overpowering the Ducks with their long-range accuracy. The Trojans also shot 58.5% from open play compared to the Ducks' 37.3%, setting them along their path to the Elite Eight.

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Isaiah Mobley finishing strong at the rim (photo: Jeff Roberson).

Tomorrow's Games

#2 Houston vs #12 Oregon State

#1 Baylor vs #3 Arkansas