Game of the Day
No. 6 Memphis 54, No. 11 St. Mary’s 52: This was as close as we got to an upset, as the Gaels scored to close the gap to two with just seconds left, then alertly face-guarded the Tigers on the in-bounds pass, causing a turnover. Matthew Dellavedova got the final shot he wanted – a three pointer from the wing – but it was a little bit too strong. The Tigers were led by Joe Jackson’s 14 points, but serious concerns about their offensive prowess will come to a head as they advance to face Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans.
No. 3 Michigan State 65, No. 14 Valparaiso 54: The Spartans held Valpo stars Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk to ten points combined, and that was enough to get them to the next round. Crusaders Erik Bugg, Matt Kenney and Ben Boggs scored in double figures, but without big plays from their studs, Valpo was doomed. Keith Appling and company advance to face Memphis.
No. 6 Butler 68, No. 11 Bucknell 56: This was one of those games that attracted upset-seekers, but Butler played strong up front, getting a 14 point, 16 board double-double from Alex Smith in the post. Bucknell center Mike Muscala was decent, putting up nine points and hauling down ten rebounds, but that wasn’t nearly enough to power the Bison to the round of 32.
No. 9 Wichita State 73, No. 8 Pittsburgh 55: No, I will not call this an upset. I will admit that I didn’t expect it to be won quite so handily by the Shockers, who have a new tourney mantra: “play angry”. The inside-out trio of Carl Hall, Cleanthony Early and Malcolm Armstead worked well together in this one, as the more mobile team beat the bigger team. WSU’s three-point shooting – a miserable 10 percent on the day – could be a serious concern in the next round.
No. 4 St. Louis 64, No. 13 New Mexico State 44: 7’5″ Aggie Sim Bhullar was big on the boards, snagging 11 errant shots, but he was a bust in the scoring column, with just four points to his name. St. Louis, on the other hand, lived up to the hype we’ve been showering on them all week, clamping down defensively and following Dwayne Evans’ 24 points into the next round.
Derrick Nix, Michigan State: 23 points, 15 rebounds to help the Spartans advance.
Darryl Evans, St. Louis: Evans was the hero as the Billikens beat up on New Mexico State, but one gets the sense that he’s just one of several St. Louis players future opponents should be very, very scared of.
Joe Willman, Bucknell: Much credit due to Willman, who busted his butt trying to make up for Mike Muscala’s muted play. Willman’s effort is today’s example of valiant play even in defeat.
Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss: No, he hasn’t stepped foot on the floor yet, but Henderson won the pre-game press conference, and made some lifelong friends in the press corps. Read up, and root for this willing villain to survive and advance, just for the fun of it.
Tray Woodall, Pitt: Not a good final career game for Woodall. He scored just two points and gave up five turnovers before leaving early with five fouls.
New Mexico State shooters: The Aggies hit just 27.9 percent from the floor, and 12.5 percent from deep. Even the freebies weren’t falling – NMSU hit just 61.5 percent from the stripe.
Will Bogan, Valparaiso: The Valpo starting guard was 0-3 on the day, scoring exactly zero points in 26 minutes.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.