If there was one number seed everyone was predicting to make an early exit, it had to be Gonzaga. So according to the script, the Bulldogs fell against ninth seed Wichita State, leaving Ohio State as the favorite in the West Regional. Other than that, upsets weren’t really a popular thing on day 3 of the tournament, as Louisville had no problem excreting their top seed status, while both Michigan and Michigan State enjoyed easy games in their Round of 32 games.
But Gonzaga losing to Wichita State, who knocked out Pittsburgh a couple of days earlier, tops everything that happened in the other 8 games. The Bulldogs struggled in the second round against Southern, and it was quite clear that the Shockers was going to be another very tough game. Kevin Pangos and Kelly Olynyk weren’t exactly stopped, but it seemed they took a bit too much on themselves – they combined for 45 points, but shot only 14-39 from the field, while Elias Harris finished with 2-8, scoring 12 points.
Gonzaga became just the fifth Associated Press No. 1 team to lose in the Round of 32 since 1985. The last team was Kansas in 2010, losing to Northern Iowa. Their biggest issue was stopping Wichita State in the final 5 minutes, allowing 19 points, erasing a 7 point lead Gonzaga had with six minutes left in the game.
The only other game which had a lower seed beat a top seed was Oregon (#12, for some reason) showing just how wrong the people who put them so low were – they had no problem putting up 74 points against Saint Louis, a #4 seed, coming in with the reputation of one of the defenses in the nation. Damyean Dotson (who else) was great again, scoring 23 points, while Arsalan Kazemi had another huge day under the basket, grabbing 16 rebounds. Saint Louis shot only 37% from the field, making 14% of their three-point attempts.
The only other memorable game from the round was Marquette, who had a lot of trouble against Davidson in the previous round, winning thanks to a Vander Blue last second layup, beating another mid-major force, everyone’s favorite bracket buster, Butler. Blue was huge again with 29 points, and just might be the best in the tournament so far. The Golden Eagles make their third consecutive sweet 16 after a 74-72 win, waiting for the winner between Illinois and Miami tonight.
Syracuse did struggle a tad with a 66-60 win over California, but the rest was a piece of cake for all the favorites. Michigan made sure the ‘havoc defense’ by VCU was a thing of the past with a 78-53 win; Michigan State took apart Kentucky B, beating the athletic Memphis 70-48; Louisville looked like a true number one, and probably the favorites so far, with a 82-56 win over Colorado State, ending the MWC participation in the tournament. Arizona killed another surprising hopeful’s dreams, beating Harvard 74-51 to leave the only Ivy league team in the tournament unemployed after the third round.