Top Dog — Ohio State (2)
The Buckeyes were the only top-four seed in the West Region to advance to the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles. And it wasn’t easy. Ohio State edged No. 10 seed Iowa State 78–75 on an Aaron Craft 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds remaining. The Buckeyes, who led by 13 points at one point of the second half, fell behind on two separate occasions with less than four minutes to play. While it was tougher than most OSU fans would have liked, beating Iowa State could be a good omen: The last three single-digit seeds to defeat the Cyclones in the NCAA Tournament went on to win the national title — 2012 Kentucky, 2005 North Carolina and 2000 Michigan State.
Underdog – La Salle (13)
According to the official seed list released by the NCAA, La Salle was the second-to-last at-large team to make the field of 68. Now, the Explorers are two wins away from the Final Four. Led by Ramon Galloway, a transfer from South Carolina, La Salle defeated Boise State, Kansas State and Ole Miss in a magical five-day stretch. Galloway averaged 21.3 points and converted 22-of-41 from 3-point range in La Salle’s three wins.
Player to Watch – Mark Lyons, Arizona (6)
Lyons, a senior point guard at Arizona, will become the first player to play in the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons for two different teams. Lyons played his first three seasons at Xavier, which advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2010 and ’12, then enrolled at Arizona as a post-graduate transfer for his final season of eligibility. He scored 23 points in Arizona’s 81–64 win over Belmont then followed up with 27 in a 74–51 in over Harvard.
“You know what I asked them? ‘On Oct. 15, down eight with eight minutes to go, would you take it for the right to go to Los Angeles in the Sweet 16?’ And they did it from there.” — Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, on what he told his team when they fell behind No. 1 seed Gonzaga by eight points in the second half.
Sweet 16 Previews: