For the second weekend in a row, Friday gave us the most exciting day of hoops.
Ohio took the Kendall Marshell-less Tar Heels to overtime. Kansas tried to give away their game against NC State. The same can be said for Baylor against Xavier. And, of course, we had the fireworks between Kentucky and Indiana. I can think of worse ways to spend a Friday night.
The best news?
The top seed advanced in all four games. I know that statement might irk fans of the losing teams, but the fact of the matter is that, at this point, the best matchups are the most ideal. I love a good cinderella story as much as anyone, but I don’t think anyone is going to complain about seeing UNC play Kansas and Baylor try to topple Kentucky.
Player of the Day: Quincy Acy, Baylor: Acy was a monster in the paint for Baylor. He finished with 20 points, 15 boards, three assists and a pair of massive dunks. The Bears are still waiting for Perry Jones III to start playing like Perry Jones III in this tournament, but thanks to Acy’s contributions, the Bears are still in a position where they can wait. It has to be comforting for Scott Drew to know he has a big man capable of going for 20 and 15 when PJ3 isn’t playing well.
They were good too:
– Tyler Zeller, UNC: Zeller was one of the few bright spots for the Heels in their overtime win over Ohio, finishing with 20 points, 22 boards and four blocks. He could have had 30 if his teammates looked for him more.
– Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky: MKG had been in a slump, but he broke out of it in a big way at a big time. He finished with 24 points and 10 boards (six offensive), looking like the MKG the nation fell in love with in December.
– Jeff Withey, Kansas: Much like Gorgui Dieng last night, Withey dominated the paint in the Jayhawk’s win over NC State, finishing with 10 blocks.
Team of the Day: Ohio Bobcats: Ohio is allowed to be disappointed about the outcome of this game. They had a very real chance to win, and they couldn’t capitalize on it. That’s disappointing for anyone. But I really hope that this team is able to, eventually, appreciate what they accomplished. They beat the Big Ten tri-champion and a team from the Big East before giving the ACC champs everything they could handle. The Bobcats made a statement. I hope they realize it.
Game of the Day: UNC 73, Ohio 65 OT: This was about as good as it gets in college hoops. Going up against an overmatched No. 13 seed, the Tar Heels took an early 15 point lead before completely losing the ability to score. Ohio caught fire from three — hitting 12-32 on the game — and started to force turnovers by the Heels — UNC had 24 on the game — which turned this game into a barnburner. The two teams traded punches late in regulation, which ended with a Harrison Barnes turnover that led to a half court heave from Cooper that bounced off of the rim. UNC took control early in the overtime, but that shouldn’t take away from how good the game was.
They’ve had better days: Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas: If Kansas is going to advance in this tournament, they are going to need Taylor to rediscover the groove that he was in late in the regular season. Taylor had just six points and five assists against NC State, going 2-for-14 from the floor and committing five turnovers, including two costly mistakes late in the game that allowed the Wolfpack a chance to get back into the game, not to mention the front end of a one-and-one that he missed. This was coming off of a 4-for-11 performance against Purdue.
– DJ Cooper, Ohio: This loss will sting for Cooper. He went 3-20 from the floor as the Bobcats took UNC to overtime.
– Tu Holloway, Xavier: Holloway missed a key free throw down the stretch, and while it didn’t cost Xavier the game, it certainly hindered their comeback attempt.
– Harrison Barnes, UNC: The Heel’s struggles are easy to pin on Stilman White, but the fact of the matter is that Barnes’ 3-for-16 performance and the five turnovers he had were much more of a factor.