Game of the Weekend: Saturday, 3:00 p.m.: St. Joseph’s at No. 11 Creighton (ESPN3)
This matchup lost some of its luster when Creighton lost to Boise State in Omaha earlier this week, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’re just three weeks into the season and we’re getting a game between the favorite in the Missouri Valley and the favorite in the Atlantic 10. St. Joe’s enters this game at 4-1 on the season, with their only loss coming at the hands of Florida State in the Coaches vs. Cancer title game.
The Hawks have a much bigger and more athletic front line than the Bluejays, as their defacto small forward is 6-foot-9 shot blocker CJ Aiken, which could end up giving the notoriously defense-deficient Creighton trouble. But Creighton’s advantage will come in their versatility and execution offensively. Creighton is surgical when they have the ball. Doug McDermott cuts and seals as well as anyone in the country. Ethan Wragge and McDermott are two of the most dangerous shooters in the country, and they will draw those bigger St. Joe’s defenders out of the paint.
Best individual matchup: Grant Gibbs vs. Langston Galloway.
Five more games that you have to watch:
- Friday, 6:30 p.m.: Tennessee at No. 20 Georgetown (ESPN): Tennessee came into the season with more expectations than Georgetown, but thanks to an impressive performance against No. 1 Indiana at the Legends Classic two weeks ago, the Hoyas skyrocketed into the top 25. The Vols are still playing without Jeronne Maymon, which is a major loss for a team that prides themselves on their toughness, but this will still be a major test for the younger, weaker Hoyas.
- Friday, 8:30 p.m.: No. 6 Syracuse at Arkansas (ESPN): Syracuse has put up some impressive numbers this season, but the only time that they’ve been tested this season came when they played a San Diego State team that shoots threes on a boat. Not exactly a test. Arkansas has a star in BJ Young on the wing and runs Mike Anderson’s 40 Minutes of Hell defense. How will Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche handle it?
- Saturday, 12:30 p.m.: Baylor at No. 8 Kentucky (CBS): Baylor is one of the most disappointing teams in the country this far into the season, as they lost to both Colorado and Charleston already this season. But it’s not like Kentucky has been a world-beater; they lost to Notre Dame on Thursday after losing to Duke in the second game of the season. The good news? There will be as much athleticism in this game as in any NBA game.
- Saturday, 7:00 p.m.: Belmont at VCU: Everyone in the country knows about VCU at this point. They press, they shoot a lot of threes and they do everything they can to push the tempo and wear out their opponent. But Belmont does the same thing as well, and they have one of the most talented and experienced back courts at the mid-major level. This should be an entertaining, high-level basketball game.
- Sunday, 4:00 p.m.: Cal at Wisconsin (BTN): The Badgers are coming off of a home loss to Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Cal, who won the DirecTV Classic, has a terrific perimeter attack — led by Allen Crabbe — but the question is whether or not they’ll be able to handle Jared Berggren inside.
And the mid-majors?:
- Saturday, 12:00 p.m.: Rider at Drexel
- Saturday, 2:00 p.m.: Wagner at Temple
- Saturday, 4:30 p.m.: Evansville at Colorado State
- Saturday, 7:00 p.m.: Ohio at Robert Morris
- Sunday, 4:30 p.m.: Valpo at St. Louis
- Sunday, 5:00 p.m.: Wichita State at Air Force
Here is the full TV schedule, with spreads, over-unders and betting lines, for every game for final day of the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
Odds via VegasInsider.com
- 7:07 p.m.: No. 11 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 7 Nevada (-2.5), CBS (143.5)
- 9:37 p.m.: No. 9 Kansas State vs. No. 5 Kentucky (-5.5), CBS (138.5)
- 7:37 p.m.: No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 3 Michigan (-3), TBS (134)
- 10:07 p.m.: No. 9 Florida State vs. No. 4 Gonzaga (-5.5), TBS (154.5)
- 7:07 p.m.: No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 1 Kansas (-4), CBS (143)
- 9:37: No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 2 Duke (-11.5), CBS (133.5)
- 7:27 p.m.: No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 1 Villanova, TBS
- 9:57 p.m.: No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 2 Purdue (-1.5), TBS (137.5)
The wild opening weekend of the 2018 NCAA tournament is finally in the books.
The bracket officially turns its attention to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight this week as teams are trying to punch tickets to San Antonio during an especially wide-open year.
Major upsets, double-digit seeds advancing into the Sweet 16 and the loss of all four top seeds in the South Regional means there’s still plenty of action to watch over the next several weeks.
Here’s how the updated bracket looks after the first weekend of March Madness.
PLAYER OF THE DAY
Caleb Martin was, once again, a monster for Nevada on Sunday.
He finished with 25 points. He handed out seven assists. He put the No. 7-seed Wolf Pack on his back and carried them back from a 22-point deficit in the final 12 minutes of a game that looked like it was lost.
It was impressive.
But he’s not our player of the day. His teammate Josh Hall is. Because he’s the one that grabbed this offensive rebound and scored this put back and sent Nevada into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
That lead was Nevada’s first lead of the game.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- JEVON CARTER, West Virginia: 28 points. Five steals. Five assists. Four boards. Eight turnovers for Marshall’s Jon Elmore. Jevon Carter was terrific this weekend.
- T.J. STARKS, Texas A&M: While Tyler Davis and Big Bob Williams combined for 26 points and 22 boards, it was Starks that was the star for the Aggies on Sunday, finishing with 21 points and five assists in a blowout win over UNC.
No. 9-seed Florida State erased a 12-point deficit in the final 10 minutes to send No. 1-seed Xavier back to the Queen City. Both Xavier and Cincinnati blew late leads on Sunday.
It was not a pretty game, but No. 11-seed Syracuse knocked off No. 3-seed Michigan State in a game where the Spartans completely forgot how to make a jump shot.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Playing without their starting center, who is recovering from a broken elbow, Purdue’s Dakota Mathias buried this shot to send in-state rival Butler home:
WTF??? OF THE DAY
Michigan State shot 8-for-38 from three on Sunday afternoon, which was the major reason that the Spartans found a way to lose to Syracuse in the second round.
But one of the eight threes that they did hit was this one:
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
Auburn never stood a chance. No. 5-seed Clemson led by 41 points at one points as they sent Bruce Pearl’s boys packing.
The dream died. No. 16 UMBC lost to No. 9 Kansas State, ending their “run” in the NCAA tournament at two games.
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams took a moment to reflect on a special three-year run after the Tar Heels were eliminated from the 2018 NCAA Tournament with a blowout loss to No. 7 seed Texas A&M on Sunday.
After back-to-back national title game appearances and a championship win last season, Williams grew quite fond of seniors like Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson. Williams also mentioned some of the tumultuous circumstances surrounding the program from the past few years as he maintained that his players helped him through a difficult stretch in his life.
Speaking to reporters at the postgame press conference, Williams tried to subdue the emotion in his voice as he talked about this Tar Heels team.
With four more top threes falling out of the NCAA tournament on Sunday, here are the updated national title futures and betting odds in the NCAA tournament.
Odds via VegasInsider.com
West Virginia: 22/1
Texas Tech: 25/1
Texas A&M: 100/1
Loyola Chicago: 100/1
Kansas State: 125/1
Florida State: 150/1