We do have plenty of favorites, including Indiana and Kansas, not having too many problems in advancing to the Sweet Sixteen, but some favorites have fallen along the way, as Florida Gulf Coast continue their incredible run by knocking off San Diego State, while La Salle left out the SEC champions, Ole Miss, out of the competition as well, making everyone remember they used to be one of the best teams in the nation 60 years ago.
On the second day of the round of 32, before we get a few days of rest to watch and see the wrecks that are brackets are, Kansas put in the more dominant performance of number one teams, beating North Carolina 70-58. Elijah Johnson and Ben McLemore were terrible, combining for 7 points and 1-15 from the field, but Releford led the team with 22 points, while Jeff Withey had another incredible performance in the paint (16 rebounds, 5 blocks) to put the Tar Heels away.
Indiana had a very rough time with Temple, but eventually came through 58-52, as the Owls managed to keep it a slow, ugly kind of game, while the Hoosiers couldn’t get their offensive stars to work. Cody Zeller scored 15 points, but Victor Oladipo was the big star in the final minutes, scoring 16 points, adding 8 rebounds to a few clutch baskets he made, not for the first time this season.
Ohio State was one of three #2 seeds that pulled through, and was the one that struggled the most, facing a very difficult and persistent Iowa State team. The Buckeyes won 78-75 without that defense everyone was talking about, but with Aaron Craft nailing a game winning three pointer with 0.5 seconds left on the clock. Craft scored 18 points and Deshaun Thomas added 22, facing an Iowa State team that hit 12 of their 25 three point shots and simply wouldn’t go away.
Miami probably faced the toughest of competition among the #2’s, but survived Illinois with a 63-59 win, putting behind all those who thought they’re nothing more than a regular season fad. The Hurricanes did enjoy a questionable call to give them the final life they needed. Rion Brown coming off the bench to score 21 points (averaging 6 this season) was just as shocking.
Duke had no problem against Creighton, who really didn’t have anything to sell beyond Doug McDermott and three point shooting. When you make only 2-19 from beyond the arc, there’s really no chance of beating a more talented team that didn’t have the best of shooting days, but still enjoyed a very good day from Rasheed Suliamon, scoring 21 points.
Florida is the last team we visit before we reach the stunners. The Gators, who there are quite a few that consider them as the best team in the nation thanks to their defense, showed their advantage of Minnesota from the opening second, eventually winning 78-64 after leading by 21 at half time. Mike Rosario couldn’t miss even if he wanted to, finishing with 25 points, as the Gophers were limited to only 40% from the field.
And on to the upsets – Florida Gulf Coast continue to shock the nation on their first ever trip to the NCAA tournament, while showing there’s another huge university in Florida no one has heard of. They’re the first ever #15 seed to reach the Sweet Sixteen, beating the highly favored Aztecs 81-71, a team most thought would take the threat more seriously than Georgetown did. The Eagles showcased Sophomore with another huge game and his second consecutive 23 point night, while Brett Comer added 10 points and 14 assists in a shocking win.
La Salle are a #13 seed; Ole Miss a #12. On paper it shouldn’t be that surprising, but the Rebels were ranked too low. Marshall Henderson looked like the kind of guy who is going to take his team far in this tournament and becoming a national enemy for those who hate players that make faces. He did score 21 points, but the rest of his teammates didn’t follow. The Explorers were led by Ramon Galloway, scoring 24 points, and leading them into the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1955.