First and second round NCAA Tournament recap

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TNS

The first weekend of March Madness this year proved to be like most other years, delivering upsets, thrilling finished and excitement.

DREW HILL

March Madness is upon us again. After six days and 52 games from March 15-20, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament field has been cut down to 16 teams going into its second weekend. As usual, there have been upsets, Cinderella runs and overtime thrillers.

The first game on Thursday saw 11-seed Michigan come back from down 15 in the first half to win 75-63 over six-seeded Colorado State for the first upset of the tournament. The next major upset saw Richmond face the fifth-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa had just won the Big Ten tournament, and were a trendy Final Four pick. The 12-seeded Spiders, however, had other plans, upsetting Iowa in a back-and-forth 67-63 win. Meanwhile, a potential upset seemed to be brewing, with 16-seeded Georgia State trailing the tournament’s overall one-seed, Gonzaga, by just four points with 10:38 to go in the game. Gonzaga, however, put any doubts to rest with a 21-0 run to go up 83-58, eventually winning the game 93-72.

The madness really broke loose in the early evening games. First, another 12-seed upset a five-seed when New Mexico State beat Connecticut 70-63 behind 37 points from Teddy Allen. The biggest upset, however, came when the 15-seeded Saint Peter’s Peacocks knocked off the two-seeded Kentucky Wildcats. Down six late in regulation, the Peacocks went on a 9-3 run to send the game into overtime capped by a three-pointer and the game-tying basket by Doug Edert. Kentucky was doomed by missing five out of six free throws in the overtime period, and Saint Peter’s held on for the dramatic 85-79 win. 

Friday’s action did not have quite the same drama for much of the day, with several blowouts and only two upsets early. Notre Dame won against sixth-seeded Alabama after winning in double overtime against Rutgers in the First Four. 10-seeded Miami held off a comeback by seventh-seeded Southern California (USC) to win 68-66. Then the 13-seed, Chattanooga, faced the four-seed, Illinois. Chattanooga jumped out to a 20-6 lead, but Illinois cut the deficit to 33-29 by halftime. Chattanooga again stretched the lead out to 40-29 in the second half, but Illinois closed the gap again. Finally, after Illinois missed a free throw down 51-50, Illinois center Kofi Cockburn grabbed the offensive rebound and scored to take Illinois’ first lead of the game at 52-51. Both teams traded a pair of free throws, and Chattanooga missed a near buzzer beater to give Illinois the 54-53 win. The final double-digit seed to pull an upset was 11-seeded Iowa State, who knocked off the six-seed, Louisiana State (LSU), 59-54.

Saturday started off with a wild game, as the one-seed, Baylor, faced the eight seed, North Carolina, with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. It was a game that featured a technical foul on each team, and later an ejection of North Carolina’s leading scorer, Brady Manek, for a flagrant-2 foul. After losing Manek, North Carolina gave up a 25-point lead, and the game went into overtime. In the overtime, North Carolina held on for the 93-86 win, advancing to face UCLA. 

Michigan continued their run by upsetting third-seeded Tennessee, 76-68, to move on to face Villanova. Gonzaga again pulled out a close win against the nine-seed, Memphis, winning 82-78. They advanced to face Arkansas, who held on for a 53-48 win over New Mexico State despite only making 27% of their shots. Saint Peter’s Cinderella run continued, as they pulled another upset over the seven-seed, Murray State, 70-60. Saint Peter’s became just the third 15-seed ever to make the Sweet 16 as they prepare to face Purdue.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski continued his last run by knocking off Tom Izzo and Michigan State, 85-76. Texas Tech needed a 10-1 run in the last 3:30 to end Notre Dame’s run, 59-53. Those teams will face off in the Sweet 16. Miami and Iowa State pulled off shockers again, beating two-seeded Auburn and three-seeded Wisconsin to set up a matchup with each other in the Sweet 16.

The final matchups will feature Kansas versus Providence and Houston versus Arizona. For Arizona, their win was anything but easy, as one-seeded Arizona found themselves in a tight game against the nine-seed, Texas Christian (TCU). It looked like Arizona might pull away when they went up 67-58. However, TCU went on a 12-0 run to take a 70-67 lead. Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin made a clutch three-pointer to tie the game at 75 with 13 seconds left. The game went to overtime, and Arizona won 85-80.

The Sweet 16 starts on Thursday, and college basketball fans are counting on there being more madness as we come closer to crowning the 2022 NCAA men’s tournament champion.