Articles By David Fox
This is probably not something that gets said very often in college sports: Notre Dame wants what Wichita State has.
Notre Dame is a college athletics powerhouse, primarily due to the football program, though the men’s basketball program is no slouch. Wichita State doesn’t even have a football team.
Despite its lower seeding and place in the Missouri Valley Conference, Wichita State has been the better basketball program in the last three years. The Shockers have been to a Final Four, they went 35-1 last season and they picked up one of the signature wins in school history — and recent NCAA Tournament history — by defeating Kansas in the round of 32.
Notre Dame is an NCAA Tournament regular under Mike Brey, but this year’s trip to the Sweet 16 is a true rarity. The Irish haven’t been this close to a Final Four since 2003; they haven’t been to an Elite Eight since 1979.
Moreover, the amount of emotional energy spent by both Notre Dame and Wichita State — for different reasons — will be worth watching.
Only after the 67-64 overtime win over Butler did Notre Dame coach Mike Brey reveal to the public and his team that his mother had passed that Saturday morning.
A day later, Wichita State faced Kansas in a long-awaited matchup between the in-state foes in an arena in driving distance from both campuses.
Other Sweet 16 Previews
No. 7 Wichita State vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
Region: Midwest (Cleveland)
Time: Thursday, 7:15 p.m., ET
Announcers: Marv Albert, Chris Webber and Len Elmore
Line: Wichita State by 1
Matchup to Watch: The contest around the rim
Wichita State is a strong defensive team on the ball and at the rim — despite having a smaller lineup. The Shockers rank ninth nationally in field goal defense at 2-point range at 42.1 percent where Notre Dame, with its attacking guards, is No. 1 in the country from 2-point range (58.3 percent). The 6-foot-10 Zach Auguste, the biggest regular for either team, may be the key player. He had 25 points against Northeastern in the round of 64 and seven points in the round of 32 against Butler.
Tournament Surprise: Wichita State’s free throw shooting
The Shockers were an average free throw shooting team during the season, making 68.8 percent from the line on 20 trips per game entering the NCAA Tournament. Last week, Wichita State was 47-of-58 (81 percent). Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker alone were 18-of-20 against Indiana.
Wichita State will win if...
VanVleet and Baker out-duel Jerian Grant. This is going to be a heavyweight backcourt matchup among veterans who can make huge shots in meaningful games. VanVleet should be able to pick apart the Notre Dame defense while Baker probably won’t have another cold shooting night after an off day against the Hoosiers. Even Evan Wessel emerged from out of nowhere to hit 4-of-6 3-pointers against Kansas. Grant can match this group shot for shot.
Notre Dame will win if...
The Irish make a defensive stand. Notre Dame and Wichita State are both in the top 10 in offensive efficiency. The X-factor would seem to be Notre Dame’s ability to defend. Wichita State doesn’t turn the ball over often, and Notre Dame doesn’t force many. Will that trend change or will Notre Dame need to be sturdy in the halfcourt? Pat Connaughton is coming off a five-block, nine-rebound performance against Butler, including the key block to prevent Butler from a potential game-winning shot.
David Fox: Wichita State 78-75
Braden Gall: Notre Dame 78-69
Mitch Light: Notre Dame 78-70
Jake Rose: Notre Dame 72-70
Sports fans across the country love their Kobe Bryant throwback jerseys. Just not the state where he plays basketball.
Last week, TicketCity shared a map of the most popular college basketball teams in every state, and now we get this map of throwback jerseys from Mitchell & Ness.
The Philadelphia-based throwback and replica specialists posted this look at the most popular throwback jerseys in each state, regardless of sport.
It’s a fascinating bit of state-by-state nostalgia, and we suspect it's by no means definitive since it represents the sales only one company. Mitchell & Ness doesn't carry a Michael Jordan throwback, which would probably be a staple in a handful of states. Still, it's a fun excercise.
Check the key on the site for a few of the jerseys you don’t recognize. A few of our thoughts are below the map.
• The 1997-97 Kobe Bryant throwback carries Delaware, Oregon, Nevada, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Ohio but not California (that belongs to Joe Montana’s ’89 49ers jersey).
It’s shocking that that Steve McNair, Eddie George or even a Colts’ Peyton Manning didn’t carry Tennessee and no Green Bay Packer carried Wisconsin. Presumably, there are too many Brett Favre or Bart Starr throwbacks splitting votes in the Dairy State.
• Ray Nitschke’s ’66 Packers throwback is the top jersey in ... Kansas.
• Bryant is the pick in Ohio, again presumably because Cleveland and Cincinnati are splitting purchases in the Buckeye State. Big Red Machine shortstop Dave Concepcion is the top jersey across the river in Kentucky.
• Check the representation of Dallas Cowboys: Troy Aikman in Texas, Deion Sanders for Oklahoma and a real throwback in Roger Staubach in Montana.
• Deion Sanders is the top jersey in three states with three jerseys: Georgia as an Atlanta Falcon, Oklahoma as a Cowboy and Hawaii as a 49er.
• The no-brainers: John Elway (Colorado), Walter Payton (Illinois), Cal Ripken Jr. (Maryland), Larry Bird (Massachusetts), Barry Sanders (Michigan), Ozzie Smith (Missouri), Steve Largent (Washington)
We also love some of the picks in the flyover states or states without a pro team Ryne Sandberg (Alabama), Bo Jackson (Arkansas — NOT Alabama), Mickey Mantle (Idaho), Joe Namath (Iowa), Larry Bird (Mississippi), Steve Carlton (Nebraska), Ernie Banks (New Mexico), Fred Biletnikoff (North Dakota), Walter Payton (South Dakota), Lou Gehrig (Wyoming).
The East region will have an ACC flavor even though the ACC regular season champion is at home. Louisville and NC State will meet in the Sweet 16 on an ACC floor for a rare conference game in the NCAA Tournament.
At the same time, Oklahoma will try to save face for a beleaguered Big 12, but the Sooners will have to go through Tom Izzo, who as usual has his Michigan State squad peaking in March.
Here’s a look at the East Regional in Syracuse at a glance.
No. 8 NC State vs. No. 4 Louisville (7:37 pm., TBS)
No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Oklahoma (approx. 10:07 p.m., TBS)
Top Five Players
1. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
2. Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
3. Terry Rozier, Louisville
4. Branden Dawson, Michigan State
5. Trevor Lacey, NC State
Top Dog — Oklahoma
For the first time since 2004, a regional will begin with the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds eliminated in the first weekend. That leaves No. 3 Oklahoma as the top-seeded team in the East region. The Sooners held off Dayton in the round of 32 thanks to some late heroics by Buddy Hield. He’s usually a big-time shotmaker, but a block helped seal the win over the Flyers. Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger is taking his fourth team to the Sweet 16, but he hasn’t taken a team beyond that since the 1994 Final Four at Florida.
Underdog — NC State
NC State was one of the most frustrating teams during the regular season, a team with the talent to be a top team in the ACC, but also a team capable of losing to Clemson, Boston College and Wake Forest. LSU collapsed down the stretch in the round of 64, and Villanova’s offense went cold for an entire game as NC State went to the Sweet 16. Cat Barber, Trevor Lacey and Abdul-Malik Abu are a talented trio, and the Wolfpack can’t be dismissed simply because it is a No. 8 seed in the Sweet 16.
An All-ACC Sweet 16 game
With memberships ballooning in the major conferences, the selection committee is having a tougher and tougher time of making sure that conference teams don’t play each other until the Elite Eight. The ACC sent six of its 15 members to the field and two of them — Louisville and NC State — will meet in the Sweet 16. On an ACC court in the Carrier Dome, no less. The Louisville-NC State meeting in the regional semifinal was permissible since the two teams played only once during the regular season. NC State won 74-65 on Feb. 14.
“(Former Michigan State All-American) Draymond Green actually this morning said ‘Don't let this be your last game,’ and I texted him back and said, ‘I won't.’ But that was our mindset coming in. We knew they were a great team, we had to jump out on them early.”
-Michigan State guard Travis Trice on his hot start against Virginia
The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament wiped away notion of Cinderellas, but if you’re looking for an underdog, perhaps you can find one in the South Region.
Going up against Duke is the lowest seed remaining in the Tournament, a team that won six games just four years ago and a team that’s been very good for a long time but never reached the Final Four. Of course, we’re talking about UCLA, Utah and Gonzaga, so Cinderella fits this crew about as much as “South” region does.
Here’s a look at the South Regional in Houston at a glance.
No. 11 UCLA vs. No. 2 Gonzaga (8:15 p.m., CBS)
No. 5 Utah vs. No. 1 Duke (approx. 9:45 p.m., CBS)
Top Five Players
1. Jahlil Okafor, Duke
2. Delon Wright, Utah
3. Justise Winslow, Duke
4. Tyus Jones, Duke
5. Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga
Top Dog — Duke
Even before the Tournament, Duke looked like the easy favorite in the South region. The first two games made the pick look even more easy. The Blue Devils made easy work of Robert Morris and then had no trouble with the length of San Diego State in the round of 32. The Blue Devils averaged 1.11 points per possession against San Diego State, the third-highest average against the Aztecs this season. Jahlil Okafor was 12-of-16 from the field for 26 points, but the most impressive player may have been Justise Winslow. The freshman had 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in a highlight-reel day.
Underdog — UCLA
Go ahead and debate if UCLA should be in the field in the first place, but it’s no question the Bruins have taken advantage of the selection committee’s vote of confidence. A goaltending call late in the round of 64 gave UCLA a leg up on SMU, and the Bruins thrashed No. 11 seed UAB in 92-75 to go to the Sweet 16. UCLA isn’t a deep team, but the Bruins can score. UCLA’s starting five scored 88 points against the Blazers.
The Bulldogs have been snakebit in the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Sweet 16 on once since 2006. The program hasn’t won in the Sweet 16 since 1999, the year before Mark Few became the head coach. This is one of Few’s best teams in 16 seasons in Spokane, but Gonzaga will need to conquer one demon to reach the regional final. The Sweet 16 matchup with UCLA is a rematch of the 2006 regional semifinal that ended with National Player of the Year Adam Morrison in tears after a 73-71 Bruins win.
“Now we look around and it's like, Pinch me. Here we are. It's been a fun run with a lot of these guys that have been a part of it.”
-Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, whose first team at Utah in 2011-12 went 6-25 in 2011-12
Kentucky’s bid for an undefeated season will have to go through West Virginia, the team that in 2010 beat what was arguably John Calipari’s best team in Lexington.
In the other regional semifinal, Wichita State and Notre Dame will try to re-orient themselves for an emotional — for very different reasons — Sweet 16 game.
Here’s a look at the Midwest Regional in Cleveland at a glance.
No. 7 Wichita State vs. No. 3 Notre Dame (7:15 p.m., CBS)
No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 1 Kentucky (approx. 9:45 p.m., CBS)
Top Five Players
1. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
3. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
4. Fred VanVleet, Wichita State
5. Ron Baker. Wichita State
Top Dog — Kentucky
Kentucky has done nothing to change the perception that it is the top dog of the entire Tournament. In the round of 32, Cincinnati gave the Wildcats some difficulty early on, but Kentucky’s depth and length was too much to handle. The Bearcats tried to get under Kentucky’s skin with a physical game to no avail. If anything was an issue, Kentucky’s guards had an off game against Cincinnati. Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis combined to shoot 12-of-34 from the field overall and 4-of-15 from 3.
Underdog — Wichita State
A disclaimer: the underdog label is not appropriate for Wichita State. In the last three years, Wichita State has gone to the Final Four, started a season 35-0 and conquered Kansas in the round of 32. The Shockers have accomplished more in recent years than its Sweet 16 opponent, Notre Dame. But No. 7 Wichita State is the lowest-seeded team remaining in the region. After the build-up to the anticipated matchup with the Jayhawks, the Shockers’ energy levels will be a storyline to watch.
Kentucky vs. West Virginia again
Kentucky and West Virginia have met in the NCAA Tournament three times since John Calipari and Bob Huggins have been at their current posts. The most recent was a 71-63 Kentucky win in the round of 32 in 2011. The most memorable was in the 2010 Elite Eight when fourth-seeded West Virginia upset a top-seeded Kentucky team led by John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. This year’s meeting will be just as compelling when undefeated Kentucky faces West Virginia’s relentless pressure. The Wildcats will face back-to-back physical opponents in Cincinnati and West Virginia before they get to the Elite Eight.
“I'd talk to her during the season and very rarely did I get ‘hey, Mike, how you doing?’ It's like, ‘Have you got them ready? Are they ready? I think we can beat Duke, Mike.’ It's unbelievable. She was intense.”
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, who revealed Saturday his mother, Betty Brey, died the morning of the Notre Dame’s 67-64 overtime win over Butler.
The West region will be full of familiar faces on a number of fronts. For starters, each team in the Sweet 16 is no stranger to this stage. In the last five seasons alone, these four teams have been to the regional semifinal 12 times.
But if the region goes chalk and sends top two seeds Wisconsin and Arizona to Saturday, the game will be a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight that sent Bo Ryan to his first Final Four.
Here’s a look at the West Regional in Los Angeles at a glance.
No. 4 North Carolina vs. No. 1 Wisconsin (7:47 p.m., TBS)
No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 2 Arizona (approx. 10:17 p.m., TBS)
Top Five Players
1. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
2. T.J. McConnell, Arizona
3. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
4. Marcus Paige, North Carolina
5. Stanley Johnson, Arizona
Top Dog — Wisconsin
The Badgers are making their fourth Sweet 16 appearance in the last five seasons, but the goals are far more grand than they once were for Wisconsin. To reach the Final Four for the second consecutive season, the Badgers have to get through North Carolina. The Tar Heels are generally regarded as a dynamic offensive team because of their up-and-down style, but Wisconsin ranks first in the nation in offensive efficiency. The battle for tempo will be the most interesting matchup of the game.
Underdog — Xavier
Xavier is no stranger to this stage. The Musketeers are in the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in the last eight years. But they’re also a No. 6 seed among Wisconsin, Arizona and North Carolina. With freshman Trevon Bluiett and sophomore Jalen Reynolds emerging, this Xavier team is peaking at the right time.
Familiar Faces for Sean Miller
The selection committee made sure Sean Miller’s path to his first Final Four was an emotional one. To get to the Sweet 16, the Arizona coach had to go head to head with Ohio State coach Thad Matta, his predecessor and former boss at Xavier. Miller’s Sweet 16 matchup will be a against Xavier, a team he coached for five seasons. On the Xavier bench is Chris Mack, who spent all five of those seasons on Miller’s staff before succeeding him with the Mountaineers.
“It's been a hard year, it really has. I probably acted sillier in the locker room after this game than I have in quite a while. I'm going to try to enjoy the dickens out of this one for a while.”
-North Carolina coach Roy Williams after the 87-78 win over Arkansas, referring to the passing of mentor and UNC legend Dean Smith earlier this year.
The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is over, and in some ways there are relatively few surprises.
In a macro sense, it’s not surprise to see Kentucky, Louisville, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State or even UCLA here. The same great coaches keep advancing through the Tournament. Four of the five active Hall of Fame coaches are in the second weekend. The exception, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, is not allowed to be here.
The Sweet 16 and the first weekend of the Tournament brought their share of surprises, too. The ACC and Big East regular season champions aren’t in the field. Neither is Kansas.
These are some of the ups and downs and statistical highlights from the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament:
Time since the field expanded the ACC and Big East regular season champions both lost before the Sweet 16. Villanova became the third outright Big East champion to lose in the round of 32 since 2008, joining 2011 Pittsburgh and 2008 Georgetown. Virginia became the first outright ACC champion to lose before the Sweet 16 since 2003. But both ACC and Big East champs losing in the first weekend of the same Tournament? That hasn’t happened in the 64-team era.
Only twice have teams that won a share of the ACC/Big East titles lost before the Sweet 16 in the same season. In 2001, outright Big East champion Boston College lost in the second round to USC while North Carolina, which tied for the ACC title with Duke, lost to Penn State. In 1997, outright ACC champion Duke lost to Providence in the second round while two teams that shared the Big East title lost in the first weekend (Boston College to Cal, Villanova to Saint Joseph’s).
The ACC is back to its roots, at least as far as the Sweet 16 is concerned. Three members of the Tobacco Road hub are in the Sweet 16. Duke, North Carolina and NC State are all in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005 and only the fourth time in NCAA history.
Coaches with NBA coaching experience in the Sweet 16. Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Lon Kruger and Larry Krystkowiak all have been NBA head coaches and not great ones. Their collective record was 364-523, and none of them has a career winning record in the pros.
Times a Mark Gottfried team has upset a No. 1 seed to go to the Sweet 16. Since the field expanded, 17 No. 8 or No. 9 seeds have reached the Sweet 16, needing an upset of a No. 1 seed to get there. Gottfried is responsible for two of those. His eighth-seeded NC State upset Villanova this year, and in 2004, Gottfried led an eighth-seeded Alabama team that upset No. 1 seed Stanford 70-67. The ’04 Tide defeated Syracuse in the Sweet 16 before losing to UConn in the Elite Eight.
Speaking of those No. 8/9 seeds to reach the Sweet 16, they’re just as likely to reach the Final Four as they are to lose in the Sweet 16, historically speaking. Six No. 8/9 seeds that made it to the Sweet 16 won their regionals, including each of the last three. NC State will try to join 2014 Kentucky, 2013 Wichita State, 2011 Butler, 2000 Wisconsin and North Carolina, 1986 Auburn and 1985 Villanova in going from the 8/9 game to the Final Four. No. 8 Villanova is the lowest-seeded team to win a national championship.
Times Kansas has lost before the Sweet 16 as a No. 1 seed, most in NCAA history.
Wichita State tops Kansas to advance to Sweet 16. Kansas has 6 first-weekend losses as a Top-2 seed, most in NCAA Tournament history— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 22, 2015
The losses are:
|Kansas First Weekend Losses as Top-Two Seed|
|Year||KU's Seed||Lost to...||Coach|
|2015||2||No. 7 Wichita State||Bill Self|
|2014||2||No. 10 Stanford||Bill Self|
|2010||1||No. 9 Northern Iowa||Bill Self|
|1998||1||No. 8 Rhode Island||Roy Williams|
|1992||1||No. 8 UTEP||Roy Williams|
|1990||2||No. 7 UCLA||Roy Williams|
Roy Williams’ record in the round of 64. Mark Titus at Grantland noted the North Carolina coach’s perfect first round record. Just for fun, let’s compare that to the other active Hall of Fame coaches, the two up for the Hall of Fame this season (Bo Ryan and John Calipari) and three other sure-fire Hall of Famers (Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan and Bill Self).
|Coach||Career Round of 64 Record|
|Roy Williams, North Carolina||25-0|
|Mike Krzyzewski, Duke||26-5|
|Rick Pitino, Louisville||16-4|
|Bob Huggins, West Virginia||16-5|
|Jim Boeheim, Syracuse||26-5|
|Bo Ryan, Wisconsin||12-2|
|John Calipari, Kentucky||15-1|
|Tom Izzo, Michigan State||15-3|
|Bill Self, Kansas||15-2|
|Billy Donovan, Florida||11-3|
Schools Lon Kruger has taken to the Sweet 16. On Friday, Kruger became the first coach to win an NCAA Tournament game with five teams. He topped that Sunday by becoming the first coach to reach the Sweet 16 with four teams after the Sooners defeated Dayton 72-66. Kruger has gone to the Sweet 16 with UNLV (2007), Florida (1994) and Kansas State (1988). The two schools he’s coached not taken to the Sweet 16? Texas-Pan American and Illinois.
Times the top two seeds from the same region lost before the Sweet 16. No. 1 Villanova and No. 2 Virginia both lost in the East Region before the Sweet 16, marking the sixth time since 1985 a region lost both of its top two seeds before the Sweet 16. The last time it happened, No. 1 Kentucky lost to UAB and No. 2 Gonzaga lost to Nevada in the first weekend of the 2004 Tournament
Longest Sweet 16 drought ended. By reaching its first Sweet 16 since 2003, Notre Dame its ending the longest regional semifinal drought of any team reaching the second weekend. The Irish have lost in the first weekend six times since that trip. The biggest uphill climb, then, belongs to Utah. The Utes last reached the Sweet 16 in 2004, but they made the Tournament only once between then and now.
Teams that reached the Sweet 16 last season. Kentucky, Arizona, Michigan State, UCLA, Wisconsin and Louisville are all making back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16. Louisville has made four in a row.
Average margin of victory for No. 1 seeds in the round of 64. Never say never, but the prospect of a No. 16 seed upsetting a No. 1 seems as far as ever. Two No. 16 seeds playing in the First Four in Dayton and then racing to another Tournament site has made the job even tougher.
Combined record for No. 4 and No. 5 seeds. We’re not ready to swear off 12-5 and 13-4 upsets in our brackets just yet, but this was a startling number. For the first time since 2007, every No. 4 and No. 5 seed advanced to the round of 32. For the No. 5 seeds in particular, this is a reversal of a trend: No. 5 seeds were a combined 2-6 in the 2013 and 2014 Tournaments.
Consecutive favorites to win from Thursday afternoon to Friday night. If you were lucky enough to indulge in the Thursday afternoon games, congratulations, you witnessed all the upsets. After UAB, Georgia State and UCLA, the universe corrected itself and went chalk for 23 consecutive games. Even the No. 8 seeds swept the No. 9s, which in theory are the most evenly matched games in the field.
No. 14 seeds to move into the round of 32. UAB and Georgia State picked up the slack for the mid-major upsets. For the First time since 1996, two No. 14 seeds advanced to the round of 32. That year, Weber State upset Michigan State and Old Dominion upset Villanova.
Margin of victory for No. 7 Iowa over Davidson. The third-highest margin of victory in the round of 64 involved a No. 7 seed against a mid-major regular season champion. Iowa defeated Atlantic 10 champion Davidson 83-52. It was the only game not involving a No. 1 seed decided by more than 20 points.
Games decided by 1 point in the round of 64. This included:
• No. 8 Cincinnati 66, No. 9 Purdue 65
• No. 8 NC State 66, No. 9 LSU 65
• No. 11 UCLA 60, No. 6 SMU 59
• No. 14 Georgia State 57, No. 3 Baylor 56
• No. 14 UAB 60, No. 3 Iowa State 59
Record for the Big 12 in the first weekend the last two seasons. The most competitive league during the regular season again struggled in the NCAA Tournament. True, the league produced two Sweet 16 teams in each of the last two seasons (West Virginia and Oklahoma this year, Baylor and Iowa State last year), but the Big 12 also had seven teams bounced in the first round in the last two seasons and league champ Kansas in the second round.
Pac-12 teams in the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season. The Pac-12 is still working to catch up to the Big Ten and ACC, but at least as far as the Tournament is concerned, the Pac-12 has had a good showing the last two seasons. Arizona and UCLA have reached back-to-back Sweet 16s, Utah advanced this year and Stanford last season. Keep in mind, the Pac-12 had three Sweet 16 teams total from 2009-12.
The hours are counting down in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, and Gonzaga has plenty of energy. That’s what going to the Sweet 16 will do for you.
After Gonzaga’s 87-68 win over Iowa in the round of 32, forward Kyle Wiltjer shared this video of the postgame locker room celebration.
Eric McClellan did a backflip and then 52-year-old coach Mark Few attempted a hand stand.
The coach is quite nimble.
For Kansas’ sake, the Jayhawks should beg to schedule Wichita State soon.
In eight years, Gregg Marshall took a program that was already a solid mid-major and built it into a national power. That much was already established before Wichita State's round of 32 game against Kansas.
With a nucleus of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, Wichita State went to the Final Four on year and started 35-0 the next. The Shockers have defeated Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, Ohio State and Indiana in the NCAA Tournament.
The last remaining white whale was in-state blue blood Kansas, a team that hasn’t played Wichita State since 1993. The Shockers spent 22 years waiting for Sunday's 78-65 win for Wichita State.
Kansas is conquered, and now maybe Marshall won’t be quite as vocal about wanting a matchup with the Jayhawks.
“I'm fine letting the series lay the way it is right now,” Marshall told the media. “The series is good with me at this point.”
Kansas, meanwhile, is left wondering what happened. This Jayhawks team isn’t a vintage Bill Self squad. Its best pro prospect, Cliff Alexander, is sitting while the school figures out his standing with the NCAA. But Kansas also won the Big 12 for the 11th consecutive season and managed to get a No. 2 seed.
Downplaying this Kansas team is a disservice to Wichita State. This also wasn’t the same Wichita State team from the last two seasons without Cleanthony Early in 2014-15. The Shockers didn’t pick up a signature win until their final game of the regular season against Northern Iowa. They lost twice to teams that didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, including Illinois State in the Missouri Valley tournament.
By avoiding Wichita State, Kansas put all the emotion in this game into Wichita State’s corner. Never mind that VanVleet, Baker, Tekele Cotton and Evan Wessel are all really, really good veteran players.
“They obviously were better prepared, ready for the moment better than us, and we didn't play very well,” Self told the media. “I obviously didn't get our guys to the point where we should play up to the ability that we should potentially play up to.”
Now, Kansas doesn’t have just a loss or just an NCAA Tournament loss or just an early exit. The Jayhawks won’t make it to the Sweet 16 because it lost to a program it long considered unworthy of its time.
It’s already started. Losses like this tend to magnify what evertyhing that happened before. Kansas has now lost in the round of 32 in each of the last two years, last year to No. 10 seed Stanford. Before that, a No. 1 seed Kansas lost to No. 4 seed Michigan in the Sweet 16.
Expect to hear Kansas’ Final Four in 2012 and national championship from 2008 mentioned a little less prominently.
By no means is this a program in turmoil. Kansas will be in a Final Four again soon enough and will keep cranking out Big 12 titles.
Wichita State, too, won't be the same program five years from than it was Sunday. Gregg Marshall, whenever he wants to leave Wichita State, will have his pick of places to go. VanVleet and Baker are juniors, and they have one more major thing to accomplish.
And it doesn’t involve Kansas.
On Friday, Oregon looked like highlighters in the Ducks’ round of 64 win over Oklahoma State.
On Sunday, the Ducks looked like their former national championship team. Oregon broke out throwback jerseys for the round of 32 game against Wisconsin, possibly trying to gain some karma from the Ducks’ 1939 “Tall Firs” team that won the first NCAA title.
Here’s what Oregon wore against Oklahoma State:
This year’s East region isn’t the craziest bracket in NCAA Tournament history, but it’s pretty darn close to the top.
In a matter of hours, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the region, Villanova and Virginia, lost their round of 32 games. That leaves No. 3 Oklahoma as the top dog in the East region — for now.
Not only did the top two seeds in region lose, the outright conference champions from the ACC and Big East lost in the round of 32.
How strange is all that? Here are a few answers:
• For the first time since field expanded to 64 in 1985, the ACC and Big East outright champions both failed to make it to the Sweet 16.
Now, the unbalanced schedule may have given Virginia a leg up in winning the ACC title at 16-2, one game ahead of Duke. But either way, the Cavaliers are the first outright ACC regular season champ since 2003 Wake Forest to fail to reach the Sweet 16. The 1997 Duke team that lost to Providence in the second round is the only other ACC champion since 1985 to fail to reach the Sweet 16.
Villanova was dominant during the regular season, winning the Big East with a four-game lead over Butler. That didn’t stop the Wildcats from losing to the sixth-place team in the ACC. Villanova is the sixth outright Big East champ to lose before the Sweet 16 and the third since 2008. Pittsburgh lost in the second round to Butler in 2011 and Georgetown lost to Davidson in the second round in 2008.
• For the first time since 2004, the top two seeds in a region lost before the Sweet 16. In 2004, No. 1 Kentucky lost to No. 9 UAB in the second round and No. 2 Gonzaga lost to No. 7 Nevada. Those upsets cleared the path for No. 3 seed Georgia Tech to reach the Final Four.
Only six times in NCAA history, including 2015, have the top two seeds in a region failed to reach the Sweet 16. Not only did it happen in two different regions in the 2000 Tournament, both regions lost their top three seeds, clearing the path for two No. 8 seeds to reach the Final Four (North Carolina and Wisconsin).
• Making the upsets more painful for Virginia and Villanova have to be the teams still playing.
Villanova defeated Xavier three times during the season by an average of 14.3 points per game, and the Musketeers are the only Big East team left in the field.
Meanwhile, Virginia was the first ACC team in nine Tournament games to lose. After NC State’s win over Villanova, Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried went so far as to call the ACC “undervalued.” Presumably after Virignia lost to the third-place team in the Big Ten, Gottfried might choose different wording.
“In my opinion, it's an undervalued conference right now for how strong our league is,” Gottfried told the media. “So when you went on the road like we have and beat North Carolina or on the road and beat Louisville or beat a Duke team, it's not that you don't respect (Villanova). We respect Villanova, but we've seen good teams. We've seen a lot of them in our conference. You see them about every night. So a league like that prepares you for games like tonight.”
No, March Madness is weird, and something strange happens every year. This year, the strangest outcomes happened to be in the East bracket.
After No. 1 seed Villanova lost 71-68 to NC State in one of the biggest upsets of the NCAA Tournament, one piccolo player in Nova’s band briefly spoke for every Villanova fan out there.
Her perseverance to play on, to do her job, in the face of such emotion is an inspiration to us all.
Naturally, we get all the memes:
I'm probably going to hell for this. pic.twitter.com/0HTybgQToz— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) March 22, 2015
NOT MY TEMPO! pic.twitter.com/lQGtZXyR6r— Joe Morgan (@joe_morgan) March 22, 2015
And now it seems we have an ID on our piccolo player:
Villanova wildcat till I die, through the smiles and the tears✌️— Roxanne Chalifoux (@roxiechalifoxie) March 22, 2015
If your bracket wasn’t already toast, it might be now.
Villanova became the first No. 1 seed to lose in the NCAA Tournament, losing to an eight-seeded NC State 71-68.
The Wildcats are the 17th No. 1 seed since 1985 to fail to reach the Sweet 16. Last season, undefeated Wichita State lost to Kentucky in the round of 32, and before that Gonzaga lost in the round of 32 to Wichita State.
Even by upset standards, this one was weird.
Villanova was one of the best offensive teams in the country during the season, ranking fourth in offensive efficiency on KenPom.
Villanova couldn’t buy a basket in the lane as NC State outscored the Wildcats 34-14 in the paint. Villanova shot 10-of-33 (30.3 percent) from 2-point range — compared to 53 percent during the season. The Wildcats were 9-of-28 from 3-point range (32.1 percent) against NC State — after shooting 38.9 percent during the regular season.
Meanwhile, NC State needed LSU to miss its last 12 shots from the floor for a one-point win in the round of 64. Two days later, the Wolfpack led a 33-win team for the entire second half.
So what might this mean for next week for the Wolfpack?
Each of the last 8/9 seeds that upset a No. 1 advanced at least to the Final Four (2014 Kentucky, 2013 Wichita State and 2011 Butler). Of the 16 Nos. 8-9 seeds to reach the Sweet 16, the same number of them reached the Final Four as lost in the Sweet 16.
NC State wasn’t the most predictable team during the season. The Wolfpack beat Duke at home and Louisville and North Carolina on the road. NC State ended up a No. 8 seed by losing at home to Wofford and Clemson and on the road to Wake Forest and Boston College.
Those neutral courts, though, have been good to NC State.
|No. 8/9 Seeds to Reach the Sweet 16|
|Year||8/9 Seed||Defeated||Advanced to..|
|2014||Kentucky||Wichita State||National championship game|
|2013||Wichita State||Gonzaga||Final Four|
|2011||Butler||Pittsburgh||National championship game|
|2010||Northern Iowa||Kansas||Sweet 16|
|2000||North Carolina||Stanford||Final Four|
|1998||Rhode Island||Kansas||Elite Eight|
|1994||Boston College||North Carolina||Elite Eight|
|1990||North Carolina||Oklahoma||Sweet 16|
|1986||Auburn||St. John's||Elite Eight|
|1985||Villanova||Michigan||Won national championship|
*coached by Mark Gottfried
Georgia State coach Ron Hunter broke down during his team’s postgame news conference after his team lost 75-67 to Xavier.
The moment came to an end, and Hunter embraced his son when he left the court. R.J. is a junior and an NBA Draft prospect, so this may be the last time the two are on the same team.
Hunter got a little choked up as you might imagine.
Reporters and bloggers, don’t forget to tip your stenographers.
The NCAA Tournament is full of under-the-radar folks who don’t get the attention they deserve. Among those are the stenographers hired to transcribe every word from every player and every coach in daily press conferences at every site.
It’s a thankless job, and one not many players or fans will ever notice. Good on Wisconsin for making sure these folks get their due, and good on the Badgers for finding a creative way to do it.
Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes tested the press conference stenographers during the Badgers’ interview session during their practice day before tomorrow’s round of 32 game.
Via ASAPSports, here’s the transcript:
Q. Nigel, obviously if you look just statistically, you've taken quite a leap in the 3-point shooting, to whatever, and in other areas. Can you describe just the steps you took to kind of, you know, raise those parts of your game?
NIGEL HAYES: Hello, it works now. Before I answer that question, I would like to say a few words, cattywampus, onomatopoeia and antidisestablishmentarianism. (Laughs). Now, back to your question. It was just a lot of hard work, teammates giving me great confidence, and when you play with players that are very unselfish like the two next to me who also give you that confidence and involve the team, it's a lot easier to get things done.
Q. Why did you start off saying those things and then I have to followup.
NIGEL HAYES: Well, the wonderful young lady over there, I think her job title is a stenographer, yes, okay. And she does an amazing job of typing words, sometimes if words are not in her dictionary, maybe if I say soliloquy right now, she may have to work a little bit harder to type that word, or quandary, zephyr, Xylophone, things like that, that make her job really interesting.
But seriously - have you ever seen the magical powers of a stenographer? pic.twitter.com/36exonv2CG— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) March 21, 2015
If you were rooting for underdogs to advance through the NCAA Tournament, sorry, folks, you’re out of luck on Sunday.
Higher-seeded teams went 15-1 on Friday — the exception being No. 11 Dayton over No. 6 seed Providence — setting up a chalk-filled lineup Sunday.
Will the trend carry into the Sweet 16 or were all the upsets waiting for Sunday’s action?
NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Sunday Preview
All times Eastern
No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Virginia
TV: 12:10 p.m., CBS
Site: Charlotte (East Region)
Preview: On the good side for Virginia, the Cavaliers put away Belmont in the round of 32, and Justin Anderson (15 points) came off the bench to have his best game since returning from injury. On the bad side, the Cavs allowed more than one point per possession for the fourth time in the last six games. That happened only four times in the first 28 games. Michigan State made things far too interesting late against Georgia but escaped with a 70-63 win. Given the way both of these teams have played recently, the final minutes will be dramatic. Virginia has been trending the wrong way while Michigan State is starting to put things together.
Prediction: Michigan State 64-61
No. 8 San Diego State vs. No. 1 Duke
TV: 2:40 p.m., CBS
Site: Charlotte (South Region)
Preview: The matchup for Duke, particularly in the offensive end, gets significantly tougher after the rout of Robert Morris. This will be a heck of a matchup in the offensive end for Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook. San Diego State ranks fourth in the nation in defensive efficiency and will face the No. 2 team nationally in offensive efficiency. The Aztecs also make a living on the offensive glass. Could this be another big moment for seven-footer Marshall Plumlee, who had his first career double-double in the first round win over Robert Morris?
Prediction: Duke 70-58
No. 7 Wichita State vs. No. 2 Kansas
TV: 5:15 p.m., CBS
Site: Omaha, Neb. (Midwest Region)
Preview: Thank you, selection committee. Wichita State has been begging for a shot at its in-state blue blood since their last meeting in 1993, and now the Shockers get to face Kansas with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. Shockers point guard Fred VanVleet was magnificent against Indiana, shutting down Yogi Ferrell late and shooting 9-of-18 from the field. Even if he has the same success against Frank Mason, Wichita State can’t afford another cold shooting day from Ron Baker, who was 0-of-5 from 3 against the Hoosiers. Kansas forward Perry Ellis is still working his way back from injury, scoring nine points in 23 minutes against New Mexico State in the round of 64. If he’s at full strength, the 6-foot-8 junior will be a tough matchup for the Shockers.
Prediction: Kansas 68-67
No. 11 Dayton vs. No. 3 Oklahoma
TV: 6:10 p.m., TNT
Site: Columbus, Ohio (East Region)
Preview: The Flyers keep defying fatigue and their roster limitations. Dayton will play its sixth game in nine days when it tips against Oklahoma, and this is with a shortened roster due to attrition in the frontcourt. Oklahoma forward TaShawn Thomas is averaging 15.3 points and 7.8 rebounds in the last four games, and Ryan Spangler is a rebounding machine (10.8 boards in the last four games). That’s a tough matchup for an undersized Dayton team, but it would be tough to doubt the Flyers now.
Prediction: Oklahoma 66-60
No. 7 Iowa vs. No. 3 Gonzaga
TV: 7:10 p.m., TBS
Site: Seattle (South Region)
Preview: Iowa has our attention after a 31-point rout of Atlantic 10 regular season champion Davidson. The Hawkeyes held the offensively minded Wildcats to 52 points and 0.82 points per possession. Now, Iowa faces a Gonzaga team can score in bunches, too, though the Zags aren’t likely to launch 28 3-pointers like Davidson did. The key matchup may be in the defensive end for Gonzaga as 7-1 Przemek Karnowski tries to slow the 6-9 Aaron White, who is averaging 23.8 points in his last six games.
Prediction: Gonzaga 79-70
No. 8 Oregon vs. No. 1 Wisconsin
TV: 7:45 p.m., truTV
Site: Omaha, Neb. (East Region)
Preview: Wisconsin won’t have an easy trip to the Sweet 16 against one of the hottest teams in the country. The Ducks have lost once since Feb. 14 and that was Arizona in the Pac-12 championship. The Badgers will have to find a way to slow down Joseph Young, who is averaging 25.3 points per game since the start of February. Young grabbed 23 points in a nine-minute stretch alone against Oklahoma State. Wisconsin, the most efficient offensive team in the country, can match Oregon. The big question is who dictates pace of play. The Badgers rank 346th in tempo, while the Ducks rank 75th.
Prediction: Wisconsin 66-62
No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 4 Maryland
TV: 8:40 p.m., TNT
Site: Columbus, Ohio (Midwest Region)
Preview: Maryland has the unenviable task of prepares for West Virginia on a short turnaround. The Mountaineers are the nation’s No. 1 team in forcing turnovers thanks to their constant pressure. They’re also prodigious on the offensive glass. West Virginia’s round of 64 game against Buffalo was more dramatic than it needed to be, though, because of missed layups. The Mountaineers won’t have as much wiggle room against a top-40 defensive team.
Prediction: Maryland 65-63
No. 5 Northern Iowa vs. No. 4 Louisville
TV: 9:40 p.m., TBS
Site: Seattle (East Region)
Preview: Maybe Louisville will be relieved that the big man the Cardinals will face is not UC Irvine’s 7-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye. Although if that opposing big man is Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle — merely 10 inches shorter than Ndiaye — maybe Louisville will reconsider. Tuttle will have his work cut out for him against the Louisville defense, but the Panthers may need Paul Jesperson and Matt Bohannon to knock down 3s to open up the floor.
Prediction: Northern Iowa 62-59
Cincinnati probably felt pretty good about itself after a close first half against Kentucky.
Then came Willie Cauley-Stein’s posterizing, demoralizing, roof-shattering dunk on Quadri Moore.
Kentucky started slow from the field in the round of 32 game against Cincinnati on Saturday, but Cauley-Stein’s dunk gave Kentucky a 25-24 lead amid a 10-0 run to end the first half.
If the dunk wasn’t demoralizing enough for Moore and Cincinnati, Bearcats forward Octavius Ellis, UC’s leading scorer, took a knee to the back, sending him to the locker room early.
Cauley-Stein has done this to dozens of players this season, but the dunks never stop being amazing. The stills here are almost as good as the video:
Posterized. pic.twitter.com/zedZnl7lF0— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 21, 2015
Willie Cauley-Stein's two-step process: pic.twitter.com/SOJF8DB0p5— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 21, 2015
No matter what happens in the Sweet 16, UCLA is in for a juicy matchup.
If UCLA faces Gonzaga, it will be a rematch of a 2006 Sweet 16 game. That game ended in an emotional Adam Morrison and a UCLA team headed to the national title game.
If UCLA faces Iowa, the former employer of coach Steve Alford. The separation wasn’t completely amicable.
Yet neither of these games should even happen.
Kudos to UCLA for taking advantage of the postseason life preserver the selection committee handed the Bruins. UCLA is heading to the Sweet 16 for the second time under Alford in a year when the Bruins probably should have made the NIT.
That said, UCLA’s wins the last two days still doesn’t justify the selection committee’s most controversial pick.
UCLA still made the field with an RPI of 48, lower than first-four-out teams Colorado State, Temple or Old Dominion. UCLA still made the field with no win as good as Temple’s win at Kansas. UCLA still made the field with three sub-100 RPI losses compared to none for Colorado State. UCLA still made the field with lopsided losses to Kentucky, North Carolina, Utah and Oregon.
The decision for UCLA to be in the field was still a blunder even though the Bruins are in the Sweet 16.
The trip to the Sweet 16 has proven that UCLA can beat SMU and UAB. The SMU win was only UCLA’s second over a top-25 KenPom team, and the Bruins needed a controversial goal tend call to do it. And beating No. 122 UAB was no different than beating Washington, Oregon State or San Diego, at least as far as the rankings are concerned.
A handful of NIT teams could beat SMU and UAB or any No. 6 and No. 11 seeds in the field. Kansas State has seven RPI top-100 wins and managed to miss the the NIT because of a losing record.
In other words, it’s possible to be in the Sweet 16 and not deserve to be there at the same time.
"The selection committee thought we were good enough to play in this tournament, and I think we proved it," forward Tony Parker told the media after the win over UAB.
Now, this isn’t to denigrate UCLA’s accomplishment the last three days. Seriously, good for Steve Alford and the depth-challenged Bruins for seizing the moment. We get to see another week of father and son in the NCAA Tournament, and that’s pretty cool. We get more Tony Parker soundbites. We’re going to get an entertaining Sweet 16 game.
These are all good things for college basketball fans.
They just never should have happened.
Officiating took center stage in the final minutes of yet another NCAA Tournament game when Maryland was not called for a foul on the final shot attempt in a 65-62 win over Valparaiso.
Up 3 in the final moments, Mark Turgeon inserted little-used 5-foot-9 guard Varun Ram as his roster battled foul trouble late in the game. Ram will go into the official record as defending Keith Carter on his potential game-tying shot as time expired.
Ram got a piece of Carter’s arm on the play, and Carter probably should have gone to the line for three shots. Certainly that’s not guarantee the game would go to overtime, but Valpo will never know.
This isn’t the first officiating issue in late games in the round of 64 and perhaps not the most egregious.
In an earlier game Friday, Louisville’s Terry Rozier was not called for a foul after reaching in on UC Irvine’s ball handler as the Anteaters weren’t able to get into their offense for the final play of a 57-55 loss.
The most controversial, though, will be the goal tend call that enabled UCLA to score the game-winning points against SMU. The Mustangs’ Yanick Moreira swatted the Alford 3-point shot on its descent, but the ball did not appear to be close to entering the basket. UCLA won 60-59.
The images from SMU's goal tend:
The field has been whittled by half. And thanks to the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament, the round of 32 on Saturday is full of some of the most unlikely teams.
The day that probably killed your bracket gives us four double-digit seeds among the 16 teams in action Saturday.
Will the upset trend continue into the Sweet 16?
NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Preview and Predictions
All times Eastern
No. 14 UAB vs. No. 11 UCLA
TV: 12:10 p.m., CBS
Site: Louisville, Ky. (South Region)
Preview: One way or another, the Sweet 16 is going to have one of the surprise teams of the Tournament — either a team that was 16-15 entering the conference tournaments or the most-derided at-large team in the field. Both teams had an other-worldly effort in the round of 64. UAB held Iowa State’s prolific offense to 0.86 points per possession, the Cyclones’ lowest average since Jan. 4. For UCLA, coach’s son Bryce Alford hit nine 3-pointers, more than one-tenth of his season-long total.
Prediction: UCLA 76-69
No. 8 Cincinnati vs. No. 1 Kentucky
TV: 2:40 p.m., CBS
Site: Louisville, Ky. (South Region)
Preview: If it wasn’t tough enough already for Cincinnati to attempt the upset of upsets against Kentucky, the Bearcats aren’t in ideal shape to take on the 35-0 Wildcats. Cincinnati expended plenty of energy to overcome a Purdue lead — by as much as 7 in the final minute — to beat the Boilermakers in overtime.
Prediction: Kentucky 77-50
No. 10 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Arizona
Site: Portland, Ore. (West Region)
Preview: The storylines are many. Arizona coach Sean Miller will face his old boss from Xavier in Thad Matta, who preceded Miller as the coach of the Musketeers. The game also will feature the best freshmen in the country who don’t play for Duke and Kentucky in Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell and Arizona’s Stanley Johnson. Russell and the Buckeyes’ other two freshmen, Jae'Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop, came up with big shots against VCU, but going from VCU’s havoc to Arizona’s defense is quite the challenging turnaround.
Prediction: Arizona 66-60
No. 14 Georgia State vs. No. 6 Xavier
TV: 6:10 p.m., TNT
Site: Jacksonville, Fla. (West Region)
Preview: Georgia State is embracing its time as the country’s favorite mid-major of the moment. What would really help Georgia State keep this run going is a full-game performance from star R.J. Hunter. Hunter scored 12 points in the final three minutes against Baylor, but only four before then. Xavier had one of the most complete games of the round of 64 with center Matt Stainbrook and guard Dee Davis combining for 37 points on 13-of-20 shooting. Xavier also held Ole Miss’ top two guards to 14 points and 5-of-26 shooting.
Prediction: Xavier 71-61
No. 8 NC State vs. No. 1 Villanova
TV: 7:10 p.m., TBS
Site: Pittsburgh (East Region)
Preview: NC State moved to Saturday thanks to an 0-of-12 shooting drought from LSU in a 66-65. The Wolfpack can’t count on that from Villanova, one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the country. NC State ranks 343rd in the country in forcing turnovers, so the Wolfpack will need to defend Villanova in the halfcourt, a risky proposition. If NC State is going to be the giant-killer it was during the regular season with wins over Duke, Louisville and North Carolina, it will take a major effort.
Prediction: Villanova 79-70
No. 5 Utah vs. No. 4 Georgetown
TV: 7:45 p.m., CBS
Site: Portland, Ore. (South Region)
Preview: Both teams conquered the upset bug in their round of 64 games against Stephen F. Austin and Eastern Washington. Look for Utah’s Delon Wright against Georgetown’s D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Hoyas big man Josh Smith against the Utes’ frontcourt to be two of the most interesting matchups of the round of 32.
Prediction: Utah 65-60
No. 5 Arkansas vs. No. 4 North Carolina
TV: 8:40 p.m., TNT
Site: Jacksonville, Fla. (West Region)
Preview: This is the odds-on favorite for the most entertaining game of the day with the way North Carolina and Arkansas like to run the floor. The individual matchups also bring promise. The Tar Heels’ Marcus Paige and Razorbacks’ Michael Qualls will look to go shot for shot, and the Hogs’ Bobby Portis will face an offensive rebounding machine that dominates the paint.
Prediction: North Carolina 78-72
No. 6 Butler vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
TV: 9:40 p.m., TBS
Site: Pittsburgh (Midwest Region)
Preview: The all-Indiana round of 32 game will match up one of the nation’s elite all-around offensive teams with a top-10 defensive team. Notre Dame is the nation’s No. 1 team from 2-point range, No. 17 from 3-point range and No. 33 from the free throw line. It all starts with Jerian Grant, who will be a tough matchup for Roosevelt Jones and Alex Barlow. The latter has averaged more than two steals per game the last two years.
Prediction: Notre Dame 76-68
A day after upsetting Baylor in the NCAA Tournament, Georgia State coach Ron Hunter can’t even get a celebratory breakfast.
Right now, Hunter is probably the most famous person in the country with a torn Achilles, sustained during the celebration after his team won the Sun Belt championship.
He’s following doctors orders to stay seated with only moderate success. At least Wednesday, the morning before the Panthers are scheduled to face Xavier in the round of 32, Georgia State’s freshmen were tasked with bringing the coach breakfast.
“Seven grapes,” Hunter told the media at Friday’s news conference. “That's what they brought the coach to eat this morning. I had a list of stuff I wanted to eat and the freshmen brought me seven grapes. They're enjoying this, trust me.”
That includes the coach’s son, R.J. Hunter. An NBA Draft prospect, Hunter hit the game-winning 3 to beat Baylor and send his father his stool in the classic highlight.
A day later, R.J. re-enacted the fall. It’s pretty much awesome:
A video posted by SportsCenter (@sportscenter) on
Check out the rest of the ways Georgia State is keeping it loose:
• “My doctor is on her way here because I cracked the cast so I'm getting recasted today, because I cracked the cast on the fall. And when I got to the locker room, I started pulling some of the stuff away and it just opened up, and she looked at it, she said this is wrong, you're making it worse. I've got to recasted. I don't even know what recasted means,
• “The players are absolutely just killing me with all this right now. I'm rolling around in, not even a wheelchair, in a scooter that's half broken. The thing I sat in yesterday, I have no idea what that little circle thing, that stool that I think you sit in if you're typing something. Just been an interesting week, but I won't trade this for the world. It's been great.”
• “I'm still trying to get fame in my own house. I don't know what you're talking about. My daughter is here. She's getting married in a few weeks, and we had breakfast this morning, and all she asked was for another check to write out for this wedding thing. I don't know what fame you're talking about. I'm writing checks out for a wedding right now. My son is not listening to me. My wife is doing interviews. I tried to talk to her this morning, and she said her people would get with my people. I don't know what fame you're talking about. I have no fame.”
• “I'm definitely using the same chair. That chair has been locked and covered right now. That chair has more protection than the President of the United States right now. I want that chair back. I don't know where they got it from, but that chair, it will stay with me for the rest of my life. Whenever we leave, I'm taking that chair with me. Win, lose or draw, that chair is going to be in my house with me the rest of my life.”
The NCAA Tournament never ceases to amaze.
In the first half of Arkansas’ game against Wofford, Razorbacks’ guard Rashad Madden lost a shoe, kicking it into the stands.
Play never stopped, so one of Madden’s teammates threw a replacement shoe from the bench. Presumably they were the same size.
We’ll never know. Play stopped when officials called a delay of game warning rather than a technical foul much to the surprise of the TNT announcing crew.
See for yourself.
Here's the entire sequence:
How is the NCAA Tournament going to top the first day of play for the field of 64?
Certainly, that’s going to be tough after two 14 seeds won early in the day and Ohio State beat VCU in overtime.
The fireworks might not be quite as pronounced — though if there’s an upset it will be a biggie. Three No. 2 seeds and two No. 1 seeds are in action Friday, meaning we’ll get a good idea of how some of the favorites will look in their first NCAA game.
Here's what you have to look forward to during the second day of the round of 64.
NCAA Tournament Round of 64 Friday Preview
All times Eastern
No. 15 New Mexico State vs. No. 2 Kansas
TV: 12:15 p.m., CBS
Site: Omaha, Neb. (Midwest Region)
Preview: Kansas is hoping Perry Ellis will regain his pre-injury form. Ellis played in the last two games of the Big 12 tournament, but went 6-of-21 from the field in those two games. The Jayhawks might not have too much trouble with New Mexico State, but Ellis’ recovery will be worth watching for KU’s chances of advancing into the second weekend.
Prediction: Kansas 67-57
No. 10 Georgia vs. No. 7 Michigan State
TV: 12:40 p.m., truTV
Site: Charlotte, N.C. (East Region)
Preview: Michigan State is one of the hottest teams in the country, winning four of its last five and taking Wisconsin to overtime in the Big Ten championship for its only loss. The Spartans have averaged 111 points per 100 possessions and shot 54 percent from 2-point range during the last five games. Meanwhile, Georgia has been the walking wounded with Kenny Gaines missing the Bulldogs’ last game with a foot injury.
Prediction: Michigan State 71-67
No. 12 Wyoming vs. No. 5 Northern Iowa
TV: 1:40 p.m., TBS
Site: Seattle (East Region)
Preview: Get read for a grinder in a flyover state special in the round of 64. Wyoming ranks 344th in adjusted tempo while Northern Iowa ranks 348th. Possessions will be low, but Northern Iowa still has Seth Tuttle and a top-20 offense and defense on KenPom.
Prediction: Northern Iowa 60-53
No. 12 Buffalo vs. No. 5 West Virginia
TV: 2:10 p.m., TNT
Site: Columbus, Ohio (Midwest Region)
Preview: Buffalo knows what it’s going to get out of West Virginia. The Mountaineers press and press and press, forcing turnovers on 28.2 percent of possessions. The Mountaineers will face a team that’s pretty secure with the ball. Upset brewing for the upstart Bulls?
Prediction: Buffalo 64-60
No. 10 Indiana vs. No. 7 Wichita State
TV: 2:45 p.m., CBS
Site: Omaha, Neb. (Midwest Region)
Preview: Three-point happy Indiana faces a team that ranks 14th in defensive efficiency. The Shockers allow opponents to shoot 34.4 percent from 3, a figure that ranks 185th nationally. Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker, Tekele Cotton and Darius Carter might have a field day against a Hoosiers team that struggles to defend.
Prediction: Wichita State 77-70
No. 15 Belmont vs. No. 2 Virginia
TV: 3:10 p.m., truTV
Site: Charlotte, N.C. (East Region)
Preview: This is not the Belmont team you may have picked in your bracket a few years ago. The Bruins finished third in the Ohio Valley before knocking off Murray State in the title game. At the same time, this isn’t the Virginia team from early in the year. The Cavaliers have been turnover-happy in recent games and are easy Justin Anderson back into the lineup. If Belmont can go crazy from 3-point range again, just maybe...
Prediction: Virginia 68-60
No. 13 UC Irvine vs. No. 4 Louisville
TV: Seattle (East Region)
Site: 4:10 p.m., TBS
Preview: Louisville has reached at least the Sweet 16 in each of the last three Tournaments, going back to an upset loss to No. 13 seed Morehead State in 2011. The Cardinals, though, bring a shorthanded team to the tournament without point guard Chris Jones, who was dismissed in late February. The Cards can’t shoot 3s, so they’ll have to get to the rim. A troublesome proposition with 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye on the other end.
Prediction: Louisville 70-60
No. 13 Valparaiso vs. No. 4 Maryland
TV: 4:40 p.m., TNT
Site: Columbus, Ohio (Midwest Region)
Preview: This is the rare game where the mid-major has the bigger lineup than the top-four seed from the Big Ten. Valparaiso starts Vashil Fernandez (6-10), Alec Peters (6-9) and E. Victor Nickerson (6-8). Maryland starts only one guy taller than 6-7 (Jake Layman). Maryland’s big guards of Dez Wells and Melo Trimble should have an advantage against the Valpo backcourt.
Prediction: Maryland 64-59
No. 9 Oklahoma State vs. No. 8 Oregon
TV: 6:50 p.m., TBS
Site: Omaha, Neb. (West Region)
Preview: Oregon won seven of its last eight to get into the field while Oklahoma State has lost six of the last seven. That’s a lot of momentum going in opposite directions.
Prediction: Oregon 78-67
No. 16 Robert Morris vs. No. 1 Duke
TV: 7:10 p.m., CBS
Site: Charlotte, N.C. (South Region)
Preview: The 6-11 Jahlil Okafor plays a team from the Northeast Conference without a player taller than 6-9. It won’t be pretty.
Prediction: Duke 89-65
No. 10 Davidson vs. No. 7 Iowa
TV: Seattle (South Region)
Site: 7:20 p.m., TNT
Preview: Davidson is one of the best offensive teams in the country thanks to its prolific 3-point shooting — the Wildcats shoot 39.3 percent from long range and derive 40.7 percent of their scoring from 3-pointers. Iowa isn’t the offensive team it was a year ago, but the Hawkeyes have three bigs in Aaron White, Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury who will be a tough matchup for Davidson.
Prediction: Davidson 77-73
No. 14 Albany vs. No. 3 Oklahoma
TV: 7:27 p.m., truTV
Site: Columbus, Ohio (East Region)
Preview: Albany got into the Tournament on a wild shot by Peter Hooley against Stony Brook in the America East final. The Great Danes run into an Oklahoma team that ranks fifth in defensive efficiency and had its own clutch shotmaker in Buddy Hield.
Prediction: Oklahoma 75-65
No. 16 Coastal Carolina vs. No. 1 Wisconsin
TV: 9:20 p.m., TBS
Site: Omaha, Neb. (West Region)
Preview: Coastal Carolina beat Auburn, gave Ole Miss a game and played a tough first half against UCLA this season. Still, this will be a shock for the Chanticleers.
Prediction: Wisconsin 80-60
No. 9 St. John’s vs. No. 8 San Diego State
TV: 9:40 p.m., CBS
Site: Charlotte, N.C. (South Region)
Preview: San Diego State is winning on defense and only defense. The Aztecs rank sixth in effective field goal defense and 271st in effective field goal shooting. St. John’s will try to get out and run against a team that would prefer to bleed the clock.
Prediction: San Diego State 58-53
No. 15 North Dakota State vs. No. 2 Gonzaga
TV: 9:50 p.m., TNT
Site: Seattle (South Region)
Preview: North Dakota State will try to find a way to slow down Gonzaga’s balanced offensive attack with a Summit League roster and a short bench.
Prediction: Gonzaga 79-65
No. 11 Dayton vs. No. 6 Providence
TV: 9:57 p.m., truTV
Site: Columbus, Ohio (East Region)
Preview: Dayton won’t have homecourt advantage after playing on its own floor for the First Four, but the Flyers might have their share of fans at Columbus. Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton are stars for Providence, but forwards Ben Bentil and Tyler Harris could have success against Dayton’s thinned frontcourt.
Prediction: Providence 77-68
Forget UAB, now Georgia State is our favorite moment of March Madness so far.
The Panthers defeated Baylor 57-56 on a 30-foot 3-point shot from R.J. Hunter with four seconds remaining, giving the NCAA Tournament its second win for a No. 14 seed over a No. 3 in the first three games.
Why is Georgia State the nation’s most interesting mid-major? Let us count the ways:
• R.J. Hunter scored 12 points in the final three minutes after scoring four before then. Hunter happens to be the son of the coach, Ron Hunter.
• Ron Hunter happens to be on one leg after tearing his Achilles when Georgia State won the Sun Belt championship to go to the NCAA Tournament. R.J.’s game-winning shot sent Ron Hunter from his stool. Read that again: COACH RON HUNTER FELL OFF HIS STOOL CELEBRATING HIS SON’S GAME-WINNING SHOT IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT.
Ron Hunter fall down go boom. pic.twitter.com/yCQZP2kRxq— David Fox (@DavidFox615) March 19, 2015
He made that. pic.twitter.com/Jxa65KGWy1— David Fox (@DavidFox615) March 19, 2015
We should also point out that Georgia State played Baylor without point guard Ryan Harrow, who has been hobbled by a hamstring injury. If the name Harrow sounds familiar, it’s because he was the maligned point guard at Kentucky when the Wildcats fell to the NIT two seasons ago.
And Harrow is one of a few redemption stories on this Georgia State roster. The Panthers also have on their roster Kevin Ware, the guard who sustained a gruesome broken leg in an Elite Eight game with Louisville in 2013. Ware had four points and three assists in the upset of Baylor.
March Madness, man.
Thanks to its own administration’s decision to shut down football, UAB is a football school. The basketball team made it all that more official.
If you’re still looking for a rooting interest in the NCAA Tournament, now you have one.
No. 14 seed UAB upset Iowa State 60-59 for the first major upset of the Tournament, sending the Cyclones home and busting brackets all over the country. UAB was the first team to hold Iowa State to less than 60 points since Texas Tech on Jan. 23, 2013.
UAB lost its final two games of the regular season and entered the Conference USA tournament at 16-15. The Blazers, though, were up for the task against an Iowa State team that won 25 games and had a knack for second-half comebacks in recent games.
Here’s how UAB closed out the game:
UAB fans haven’t had much to cheer as the administration elected to shut down football just as the Blazers wrapped up their best season in 10 years.
If that’s not a reason to pull for UAB as it faces SMU or UCLA in the next round, maybe this will help:
THIS UAB ASSISTANT! pic.twitter.com/Opa2x3yq3c— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) March 19, 2015