The second and final day of Sweet Sixteen basketball ended up without any upsets as Duke, Gonzaga, Louisville and Michigan State advanced to the Elite Eight. The Spartans were the only lower seed to win, but them winning isn’t really a surprise.
#1 Duke beat #5 Utah 63-57: A weird game. Nothing too special from Duke, led by its three star freshmen, and yet Utah were hanging in there until the very end, showing a lot of promise with a young group that’s probably just going to get better in the next year or two under Larry Krystkowiak, the Utes own version of Coach K.
As for the standouts, Jahlil Okafor was struggling on offense for once with just six points but did a much better job on defense while Justise Winslow continues to have a great tournament, scoring 21 points, followed by Tyus Jones with 15 and Quinn Cook with 11 points.
#2 Gonzaga beat #11 UCLA 74-62: More than anything, this win proves just how ‘for real’ Gonzaga are this season, making it to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1999. The Bulldogs jumped to an early lead against the lowest seed remaining in the tournament and their defense made sure the Bruins never got close.
Przemek Karnowski led Gonzaga with 18 points, including 16 in the paint. UCLA did score 22 points in the paint overall, much better than in their regular season meeting, but couldn’t get anything going for them from long range, hitting just 20% of their attempts from outside the paint, getting only two points from their bench and watching Norman Powell and Bryce Alford struggle in a way that was damaging to the team.
#4 Louisville beat #8 North Carolina State 75-65: Rick Pitino always (almost always) goes through the Sweet Sixteen, improving to 12-1 at this stage, the best record among head coaches with at least five appearances. He got a huge day from Montrezl Harrell, scoring 24 points and grabbing 7 rebounds.
Terry Rozier continues to do everything for the team, scoring 17 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out four assists. He’s been responsible for 94 points so far in the tournament, the most among remaining players and second overall behind VanVleet of Wichita State.
#7 Michigan State beat #3 Oklahoma 62-58: It’s never too pretty with the Spartans, but they almost always power through to the Elite Eight and further. Travis Trice continues to play fantastic basketball, scoring 24 points.
Spartans players kept missing wide open shots in the first half but were much more accurate on that account in the second half (5-of-8), including a 3-pointer by Denzel Valentine (18 points) with 6:21 left in the game, putting Michigan State up by 4 points, a lead they would never relinquish.