Sean Miller’s Arizona team steamrolled Gonzaga and advanced to the Sweet 16, where they will head back to Southern California on Thursday to take on San Diego State in Anaheim.
North Carolina had one of the weirdest exits from the NCAA tournament that I’ve ever seen.
After DeAndre Kane made an impressive, driving layup with 1.6 seconds left, North Carolina inbounded the ball to Nate Britt, who went sprinting up the floor and … tried to call timeout on the other side of half court?
It made sense to him, because despite the fact that he had taken two dribbles and ran a good 50 feet, there was still time left on the clock because the clock operator had delayed the start.
So after a lengthy review at the monitor, the game was deemed over. The Tar Heels would not get a chance to tie or take the lead after all, and it was largely due to a clock malfunction and the fact that none of the officials looked at Roy Williams when he was trying to call a timeout.
But credit Roy: he’s a bigger man than I am. He took the loss like a pro, without blaming anyone.
I would have thrown four or five hissy-fits.
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 8 Kentucky 78, No. 1 Wichita State 76
The best game of the season. It’s not really all that close, either. Playing in front of a packed house, a team full of NBA draft picks that was supposed to go 40-0 spent 40 minutes going blow-for-blow with a team of junkyard dogs that actually had a chance to go undefeated. Story lines on top of story lines. More than enough hype. College basketball at its best.
Oh, and our Scott Phillips was court side. Here’s what he wrote off of the game:
1. No. 10 Stanford 60, No. 2 Kansas 57: Unfortunately for Kansas, they picked the wrong time of the year to go absolutely ice cold from beyond the arc. Stanford controlled the paint on both ends of the floor, benefitting from Joel Embiid’s absence, as they survived a late rally to beat the Jayhawks and advance to face No. 11 Dayton in the Sweet 16.
2. No. 3 Iowa State 85, No. 6 North Carolina 83: The Cyclones played without Georges Niang, who had a broken foot, but got 24 points, 10 boards and seven assists from DeAndre Kane, including a game-winning layup with 1.6 seconds left, to advance to the Sweet 16. UNC never got a shot off in one of the weirder finishes that you’ll ever see.
3. No. 6 Baylor 85, No. 3 Creighton 55: The Bears went all Creighton on the Bluejays, shooting 63.8% from the floor and hitting 11 threes in a game that was never in doubt.
1. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee: The Hulk. Stokes had 17 points, 18 boards (Stephen F. Austin had 19 as a team) and five assists as the No. 11 Vols knocked off the No. 14 Lumberjacks. He’s averaging 15 boards in the tournament.
2. Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona: They combined for 36 points, 11 boards, 11 assists, five steals and four blocks. Oh, and about ten ridiculous dunks. Arizona beat Gonzaga, by the way.
3. Jordan Adams, UCLA: He scored 19 points as the Bruins made their first Sweet 16 in five years.
1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: In the most important game of his career, Wiggins shot 1-for-6 from the floor and finished with as many turnover (four) as points. It was not his best outing.
2. Memphis Tigers: Josh Pastner’s club got smacked around by No. 1 Virginia, but the real damage was done in the last nine minutes of the first half. Memphis shot 2-for-14 from the floor and scored just four points as Virginia turned a one-point deficit into a 15 point lead.
3. Creighton Bluejays: They shot 5-for-24 from three. Creighton can’t win that way. Tough to see this group of seniors have their career end on a night like this.
Remember when everyone was concerned about the fact that No. 1 Virginia was losing by 10 to No. 16 Coastal Carolina in the first half?
Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?
The Cavaliers pounded No. 8 seed Memphis on Sunday night, shooting 55.6% from the floor in a 78-60 win that felt like it was closer to a 40 point win than an 18 point win. Joe Harris led the way with 16 points as five players reached double figures in a performance that was quintessential Virginia: Memphis couldn’t get a good look until the game was no longer in doubt while Virginia’s execution offensively was flawless.
The win sends the Cavaliers onto the Sweet 16, where they will face-off in a highly-anticipated battle with No. 4 Michigan State.
When the brackets were released, the Spartans were immediately tabbed as the trendy pick to win the National Title. That’s what happens when a team with as much talent as there is on Michigan State’s roster finally gets healthy. But don’t think for a second that Virginia didn’t notice how much they were being overlooked.
Remember, this is a team that won the ACC regular season title — by a couple of games — and tournament title. They have one of the best defenses in the country and an offense that has opened up ever since the decision was made to put the ball into London Perrantes hands more.
The ‘Hoos are good, and they’ll be looking to prove it to the team the nation has dubbed as the East Region’s best.
The Creighton Bluejays were one of the best offensive teams in the country this season, leading the nation in efficiency and three-point percentage, and among the nation’s best in many other major statistical categories. And with senior forward Doug McDermott leading the way, this had the looks of a season that could produce a lengthy stay in the NCAA tournament.
Unfortunately for Creighton that would not turn out to be the case, as they ran into a very difficult matchup in the form of the Baylor Bears. Baylor used it’s morphing zone defense to thoroughly frustrate Creighton, and the end result was an 85-55 beating that was more shocking due to the margin than the result.
Baylor limited McDermott to 15 points on 7-for-14 shooting, communicating to each other where the national Player of the Year candidate was at all times. And they also kept tabs on Creighton’s other shooters, resulting in a 5-for-24 night for the Bluejays from three and 40% shooting from the field. Creighton couldn’t get going offensively against Baylor’s length, and the combination of that and Baylor’s record-setting shooting on the other end resulted in a game that was never in doubt.
Scott Drew’s team made its first five three-pointers and finished the game 11-for-18 from distance, tying a school tournament record (Kenny Chery and Brady Heslip were responsible for nine) and their ball movement was key. All five starters finished in double figures with Isaiah Austin’s 17 leading the way, shooting 63.8% from the field as a team and 19 of their 30 made field goals were assisted. Communication and teamwork were once again key for Baylor, something that’s been the case during their impressive turnaround over the last six weeks.
Baylor’s now won 12 of its last 14 games and they’ll be making their third Sweet 16 appearance under Scott Drew, and the fact of the matter is that the Bears’ turnaround is something few outside of that locker room thought possible. But Baylor continued to work and believe in each other, resulting in a trip to Anaheim to play No. 2 Wisconsin next week.
Jordan Adams finished with 19 points, Normal Powell added 16 and Kyle Anderson finished with 15 points, eight boards and five assists as No. 4 UCLA rolled past No. 12 Stephen F. Austin, 77-60.
It will be the first trip for UCLA to the Sweet 16 since 2008. That was the last of three straight Final Four trips for former Bruins head coach Ben Howland, who was let go last season despite winning the Pac-12 title. The Bruins’ brass wanted to win more, especially in March, and it looks like Alford is getting that done.
And if you know anything about Alford’s past, there is some irony there. This is the first time that he has reached the Sweet 16 this century. Seriously. The last time that he was in the second weekend of the NCAA tournament was three jobs ago, when he was the head coach Southwest Missouri State and made a run as a No. 12 seed. He has won as many tournament games this season as he did in the 14 years between Sweet 16 trips.
The Bruins will advance to the Sweet 16, where they will have a date with the overall No. 1 seed, Florida. UCLA will have their work cut out for them in that game, as Florida’s last loss came on Dec. 2nd. They are undefeated with Kasey Hill and Scottie Wilbekin both in the lineup.
The loss was the first for the Lumberjacks in exactly four months, as they had won 29 straight games.