TEAM OF THE DAY: Florida Gulf Coast
Is there even a conversation here?
Florida Gulf Coast didn’t just knock off No. 2 seed Georgetown. The 15th-seeded Eagles spanked them. They won by 10 in a game they were up by 19 points during the second half. There were alley-oops (plural) and tip-dunks. There were clutch threes and one epic choke-job. There was the defining moment of the NCAA tournament to date:
While Eddie Murray and Chase Fieler were dunking all over the Hoyas, Sherwood Brown was dancing on the court and shaking Reggie Miller’s hand and hugging cheerleaders. It was everything that makes the NCAA tournament great: the upset, the celebration by a team you’ve never heard of, the palpable anguish of the nationally relevant program losing in the opening round, the cursing you hear from next door as your neighbor screams about losing a Final Four team from their bracket.
Davidson-Marquette was fun. Harvard-New Mexico was an upset. But this was the first bit of Madness we’ve gotten in this year’s NCAA tournament.
Who else was impressive?:
- Ole Miss: The Rebels picked up their most impressive win of the season by knocking off No. 5 seed Wisconsin on Friday. The best sign? They did it on a night where Marshall Henderson missed 12 of his first 13 shots from the field. Ole Miss will advance to take on No. 13 seed La Salle.
- La Salle: Speaking of the Explorers, they picked up an upset win over No. 4 seed Kansas State, hanging on to beat the Wildcats despite completely blowing an 18 point halftime lead. La Salle is your clubhouse favorite to be the second weekend cinderella.
- Minnesota: The Golden Gophers caught UCLA on the perfect day. Not only were they getting the Bruins without Jordan Adams, but Friday morning also happened to see a story published about how Shabazz Muhammad has been lying about his age. The result? UCLA didn’t show up, and the Gophers reaped the benefits.
PLAYER OF THE DAY: Andre Hollins, Minnesota
Since we’re on the topic of the Gophers, Hollins finished with 28 points, nine boards and five assists on 8-16 shooting, hitting 5-8 from three. That’s what set the tone for Minnesota, who, with the exception of a single game in February when they knocked off Indiana, has been atrocious for more than three months. The Gophers landed a 20 point win over UCLA on Friday night. They advanced to the round of 32 for the first time in Tubby Smith’s Minnesota tenure. Will that be enough to save his job if Minnesota can’t get past Florida?
Who else was good?:
- Khalif Wyatt, Temple: Wyatt had 31 points, five assists and three steals as Temple hung on to beat NC State on Friday. The Owls were up 38-22 at the break, but they needed some clutch free throws from Wyatt down the stretch to hang on.
- Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott finished with 27 points and 11 boards for the Bluejays as they managed to stave off No. 10 seed Cincinnati in the opening round. Creighton will get a shot at Duke next.
- Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State: Franklin had 21 points, eight boards and five assists in a win over No. 10 seed Oklahoma.
- Brett Comer, FGCU: Comer wasn’t the guy throwing down the dunks for the Eagles and he wasn’t the leading scorer that will top the box score. He’s the engine that makes Andy Enfield’s team run, finishing with 12 points, 10 assists and six boards in the win over Georgetown.
- PJ Hairston, UNC: UNC needed a late run to avoid blowing a 17 point lead to Villanova, but the Tar Heels were able to pull out the win thanks in large part to 23 points, five boards, three assists and three steals.
GAME OF THE DAY: La Salle 63, Kansas State 61
The Explorers were dominant for the first 20 minutes on Friday night, as they opened up a 44-26 lead at the half on the Wildcats while slicing up the Kansas State defense with their talented perimeter attack. But once Jordan Henriquez and company finally woke up, Kansas State went on a run. They outscored La Salle 31-12 in the first 12 minutes of the second half, completely erased the deficit and setting up a thrilling finish. After Jerrell Wright hit two free throws with 30 seconds left, Kansas State missed on two shots that could have won the game.
Bruce Weber will not be happy about the loss. He was trying to call a timeout as Angel Rodriguez was dribbling out the clock.
1) I guess the Atlantic 10 is pretty good: Four days into the tournament, and the Atlantic 10 has yet to lose a game. Butler, St. Louis and VCU all won on Monday, while La Salle — who also won the play-in game — and Temple won as lower seeds on Friday. The only other league that received multiple bids to the tournament to go undefeated thus far? The Missouri Valley.
2) Which is why San Diego State is so important: The Mountain West is now 2-3 in the tournament after San Diego State picked up a win over Oklahoma on Friday night. Combine that with Colorado State’s definitive win over Missouri on Thursday, and that’s all we get out of the league that everyone fell in love with this season. None of the three losses came to lower-ranked teams. That’s not exactly a rousing compliment for the conference.
3) Kansas should be happy Georgetown lost: And not just because they are in the same region. The Jayhawks looked absolutely atrocious in their matchup with No. 16 seed Western Kentucky today. The Hiltoppers could not score in the second half, and Kansas only managed to win by seven points. If everyone wasn’t obsessed and focused on how the Hoyas played, we may be talking about how bad the Jayhawks looked.
4) Since were’e talking about comebacks: How about the one by Colorado. The Buffs used a 23-2 run to take a 44-39 lead midway through the second half, and then couldn’t find a way to score the rest of the game. No. 7 seed Illinois eventually won, 57-49, to advance and take on Miami.
5) Have you seen tomorrow’s schedule yet?: Yeah, it’s gonna be awesome.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.