Bucknell had a chance.
Phil Pressey missed the front-end of a 1-and-1, meaning that the Bison had the ball down 64-63 at No. 12 Missouri and a chance to take the final shot. But Mike Muscala stepped out of bounds with three seconds left, giving the ball back to the Tigers and, essentially, ending any realistic shot at the upset.
The loss will undoubtedly be a disappoint for a Bucknell team that undoubtedly needs to earn their league’s automatic bid — over CJ McCollum’s Lehigh team — to make the NCAA tournament now, but Muscala has no reason to be ashamed. He finished with 25 points, 14 boards, four assists and two blocks, grabbing a trio of key offensive rebounds in the final minutes. He did everything that he could to keep the Bison close, and likely earned himself some NBA money in the process.
If anything, Bucknell’s performance only confirmed the fact that you absolutely do not want to see this team in the first round of the NCAA tournament, especially on nights when Bryson Johnson and Cameron Ayers are hitting shots from the perimeter.
For Missouri, this was yet another concerning performance.
Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers may just be the best 1-2 punch in the SEC. They are terrific, even if Pressey has a tendency to take some bad shots from time to time.
But the fact that Alex Oriakhi was so thoroughly outplayed and the struggles that Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown had from the perimeter — the Tigers are going to be in big, big trouble on the nights those two combine to go 2-19 from the floor — makes Missouri look quite vulnerable.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Then again, in a year like this, who isn’t?
National Semifinals– Saturday, April 1
6:09 p.m. EST, CBS, Glendale
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)
Approximately 40 minutes after conclusion of first game, CBS, Glendale
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Oregon (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)
North Carolina and Kentucky ended in legendary fashion on Sunday.
After freshman Malik Monk buried a heavily-contested three-pointer to tie the game at 73-all for Kentucky with under 10 seconds left the Tar Heels didn’t use a timeout as Theo Pinson found forward Luke Maye for the game-winning jumper.
These 10 seconds will go down as one of the greatest finishes in NCAA Tournament history.
North Carolina advanced to the Final Four for the second consecutive season and 20th time overall as the No. 1 seed Tar Heels outlasted No. 2 seed Kentucky, 75-73, during Sunday’s South Regional final in Memphis.
Reserve forward Luke Maye knocked in the game-winning jumper for the Tar Heels with 0.3 seconds left to break a 73-all tie after Kentucky’s Malik Monk tied the game with a three-pointer on the previous possession.
The Tar Heels (31-7) overcame an ankle issue from junior point guard Joel Berry as North Carolina was led by Justin Jackson’s 19 points.
Maye also stepped up with a big game for North Carolina as he continued his strong March with 17 points. Berry added 11 points, as he went to the locker room during the first half to get his ankle looked at before returning to play later in the half.
Kentucky (32-6) won the regular-season matchup of these teams, 103-100, in Las Vegas in December as their freshmen guards struggled to perform on Sunday. After De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk combined for 71 points in that previous win over the Tar Heels, the two freshmen studs couldn’t get going.
Both of them dealt with first-half foul trouble as Fox finished with 13 points while Monk was held to 12 points. Also battling foul trouble in the first half, freshman Bam Adebayo added 13 points for the Wildcats.
With Fox and Monk struggling to generate consistent offense, the Wildcats were able to stay in the game thanks to great performances from reserves like Isaac Humphries (career-high 12 points) and senior Dominique Hawkins (10 points.
North Carolina advances to face No. 3 seed Oregon in next weekend’s Final Four.
South Carolina earned its first trip to the Final Four with its win over SEC-rival Florida on Sunday.
The Gamecocks made sure to celebrate properly when head coach Frank Martin hit the locker room after the game by dousing him in water before Martin gave another speech.
Darius Rucker, the former front man of Hootie and the Blowfish and a current star in the country music world, is a lifelong South Carolina Gamecocks fan.
This isn’t really a secret.
Hell, on Friday night at a concert he was playing, Rucker set up TVs so that he would be able to watch South Carolina take on Baylor:
You probably didn’t realize just how big of a fan he actually is until you saw him, sitting second row at the regional final in New York City on Sunday afternoon, tearing up as the Gamecocks advanced to the Final Four:
Let ’em cry, Darius, if the tears fall down like rain.