Day 2 games

Second Round Impact Players


Some teams won their second round game because of a team effort, but others won because of individual performances. In the NCAA tournament a team will do whatever it takes to win, even if that mean’s riding on the coattails of just one player. Ask Norfolk State and Lehigh if they would swap their upset victories for a more balanced team effort. You probably know what the answer is going to be.

The following is a list of the guys who carried their teams to victory in the Second Round and are capable of doing it again:

Jason Clark, Georgetown:
Clark was to Georgetown what Jenkins was to Vanderbilt. He’s the team’s most veteran player and along with having a smooth touch, he’s capable of mixing it up with the big guys.
If he doesn’t show up: Hollis Thompson
The lanky forward had an off-game against Belmont, but he’s an athletic forward who can heat up in a hurry and shot 7-for-9 against NC-State last season when the two teams met in the finals of the Charleston Classic.

Tu Holloway, Xavier:
He’s a big-game player. Regardless of what happened in the regular season, Holloway is going to bring it when it matters most. He took over the latter stages of Xavier’s 67-63 victory over Notre Dame, and if he has to do it again in the third round, he will.
If he doesn’t show up: Dez Wells
He may only be a freshman, but he has athleticism for days. He also doesn’t play like a freshman. He has confidence and swagger.

John Jenkins, Vanderbilt:
The Commodores finally got a tournament opening win, and it was due in large part to John Jenkins hot shooting against Harvard in the second round. Jenkins has one of the smoothest strokes in the country and can hit a shot from anywhere. Facing a suffocating Wisconsin defense, Jenkins will have to make accurate and well-timed shots. Which he’s more than capable of doing.
If he doesn’t show up: Jeffery Taylor
Taylor can do just about everything. He’s a great shooter and an incredible athlete. If Vandy needs a big shot, he’ll take it. If they need a big rebound, he’ll go grab it.

C.J. McCollum, Lehigh:
This kid is an impact player every time he steps on the floor. He scored 30 points along with six assists and six rebounds. This was the sixth time this season he has scored at least 30 points and the 22nd time he scored 20 or more points. Lehigh’s tournament future rests squarely on his shoulders, and he’s more than capable of delivering.
If he doesn’t show up: Gabe Knutson
The junior forward was 5-for-5 from the field and hit several key free throws down the stretch. With everybody keying in on C.J. McCollum, Knutson can be the guy to pick up the slack offensively.

Rodney McGruder, Kansas State:
The DC-native logged his third 30-point performance of the season as the wildcats defeated Southern Mississippi in the 8/9 game. If there is one player on K-State’s roster that has the ability to keep the team in any game they play, it’s McGruder. If the Wildcats can get Jordan Henriquez to him assert himself down low early on, it allow McGruder to get more open looks from the outside, which tends to be a weakness of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone.
If he doesn’t show up: Jordan Henriquez
Syracuse struggles on the defensive glass, and K-State excels on the offensive glass. That sets up nicely for Henriquez to have another big game.

Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State:
The Spartan’s historic victory over Missouri was led by the center’s dominant performance, as he logged 24 points and 16 rebounds. He had more rebounds than the top three Missouri players combined. Luckily for Norfolk State they play another small team in the third round. Florida will throw Alex Young at Kyle O’Quinn, but if he can put on a similar performance, the Spartans have a very good chance at pulling another monumental upset.
If he doesn’t show up: Pendarvis Williams
Williams was 4-for-4 from behind the arc against Missouri and is the team’s best outside shooter. If they are going to keep up with the Gators’ streaky shooters, he is going to have to be on-target.


Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.

What we learned from the second round


The “second round” is  officially in the books, and there are only 32 teams that still have a chance to cut down the nets in New Orleans. The first two days of the NCAA tournament were not as action-packed as we would have hoped, but the games did provide us with some information that we may have overlooked or not been aware of.

We may have overlooked NC-State just a bit: At-large bids are supposed to be given out based on an entire season of work, strength of schedule and RPI. But sometimes teams with underwhelming records or SoS are given a spot because they are playing well at the right time. That’s what NC-State is doing. They’ve won five of their last six games, and just beat a talented but undersized San Diego State team by playing efficient basketball with a quality team effort. The Wolfpack were the last team mentioned during Selection Sunday, and the win may validate the committee’s decision. With heightened play by C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown and Scott Wood, this team has the capability to beat Georgetown in the Round of 32.

Talent is Overrated: Uconn is loaded with talented players brimming with NBA potential. But they lack cohesiveness and effort. Their lack of teamwork showed greatly in their 77-64 loss to Iowa State. In fact, the score doesn’t indicated how truly painful their performance was. But Jeremy Lamb summed it up best when he went in for a one-handed windmill dunk with his team trailing by 13. As the final buzzer sounded, Lamb clanked the ball off the back of the rim, and UConn’s season came to a fitting close.  UNLV also got outworked by a Colorado team with much less talent.  The Buffs led by 11 at the half and by as many as 20 and out-rebounded the Rebels by 13.

Syracuse isn’t playing like a No.1-Seed: Don’t chalk-up Syracuse’s close call to just the absence of Fab Melo. UNC-Asheville didn’t have a starter who checked in at 6-6 or above. This team looked rattled, and was unable to consistently play at a high level. Against Kansas State, Melo’s absence should be more noticeable, but if this team plays like they did against UNC-Asheville, it probably won’t matter.

Referees make mistakes too: At the end of the Syracuse/UNC-Asheville game the referees gave Syracuse the ball following a play in which the ball clearly touched Brandon Triche last. The Bulldogs were down three at the time and would have had a chance to tie the game. Instead, they ended up losing by five. At the end of the Alabama/Creighton game, Trevor Releford launched a three-pointer as the clock expired which would have won the game for the Crimson Tide, but the shot was blocked. Well, after taking a closer look at the play, it appears that Releford was fouled. Alabama was down one and would have gone to the line with a chance to win the game. But while these no-calls seemed to cost teams the game, the players made mistakes that put them in that position to begin with. Everybody makes mistakes.

Georgetown and Vanderbilt finally beat mid-majors in the tournament:
Up until the final buzzer went off, nobody was sure if Georgetown and Vanderbilt would be able to get out of their early tournament funk. Since 2008, the two teams were a combined 1-6 in tournament games, all coming against mid-major competition. But both teams look fairly dominant in their tournament openers on Friday, with Vandebilt defeating Harvard 79-70 and Georgetown defeating Belmont 74-59. Both teams have the potential to make deep runs in the tournament, and now that their biggest hurdles are out of the way, they could be here for a while. If you had these two teams making deep runs in your bracket, you can finally breathe a sigh of relief, for now.

Size was an issue for Missouri:
The one knock on Missouri all year was that they didn’t have any size. All season we worried that size would give Missouri issues, and all season we seemed to be wrong. But Norfolk State had the answer. His name was Kyle O’Quinn. The MEAC Player of the Year had 24 points and 16 rebounds. The Spartans out-rebounded the Tigers 35-23 and had 14 offensive rebounds to the Tigers’ six. For the first time all season, Kim English looked undersized at the power forward position. The Tiger’s didn’t play bad, but the Spartans played better.

A different kind of madness:
We think of the first week of March Madness as the time that produces the best buzzer-beaters. Thursday and Friday are known for the great finishes and unexpected endings. But Thursday provided nothing of great substance. Friday provided no wild finishes or epic buzzer-beaters. But Friday did provide us with history. For the first time in the history of the NCAA tournament, two No.15-seeds defeated two No.2-seeds in the same tournament, let alone the same day. Norfolk State’s victory over Missouri shocked the world, and Lehigh’s victory over Duke rocked it. Oh, and No.13-seed Ohio beat No.4-seed Michigan.


Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.

NCAA Tournament Day 2 recap


The opening day of the opening round of the NCAA tournament was less than stellar. There were a lot of blowout and not much in the way of upsets.

That all changed on Friday afternoon, as Day 2 provided us with one of the most exciting four hours since I started following college basketball. It started with Norfolk State’s upset of No. 2 Missouri. As that game was wrapping up, four more games were kicking off.

While Memphis losing to St. Louis would have been notable at any other point during the tournament, it got swept under the rug as another No. 2 seed went down, this time with Lehigh knocking off Duke. Lehigh’s win completely overshadowed No. 13 Ohio’s upset of Michigan. All this was happening while No. 10 Purdue blew an 11 point lead in the final minutes only to win the game when a St. Mary’s player traveled on an inbounds pass.

And there were still four more games to be played.

This recap won’t do the day justice. But I can sure try:

Player of the Day: Draymond Green, Michigan State: For the second time in his career, Draymond Green recorded a triple-double in the NCAA tournament, finishing with 24 points, 11 boards and 10 assists as the top seed Spartans advanced past No. 16 LIU-Brooklyn 89-67. Green is the only Michigan State* player to have a triple-double in the NCAA Tournament since Magic Johnson.

*(I should have clarified that better. My bad.)

They were good too:

Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State: O’Quinn finished with 26 points, 14 boards and four blocks as the No. 15 Spartans upset two seed Missouri, 86-84.
CJ McCollum, Lehigh: McCollum introduced himself to the country as he went for 30 points, seven boards and six assists in a 75-70 win over No. 2 Duke.
Tu Holloway, Xavier: Holloway had 25 points, including the game-winner, as No. 10 Xavier beat Notre Dame 67-63.

Team of the Day: Lehigh Mountain Hawks: For just the sixth time in history — but the second time Friday evening — a No. 15 seed won a game in the NCAA tournament. The Mountain Hawks got a terrific performance from star guard CJ McCollum and used a 15-5 run midway through the second half as they knocked off No. 2 seed Duke. The win means that Lehigh will take on Xavier in the round of 32, setting up a matchup between McCollum and Tu Holloway.


South Florida Bulls: USF shook off a slow start, using a 30-6 run to spark a 58-44 win over No. 5 Temple.
Ohio Bobcats: DJ Cooper had 21 points and five assists as Ohio landed their second upset in three seasons, beating Michigan 63-60.
St. Louis Billikens: Kwamaine Mitchell and Brian Conklin scored all 14 points in a 14-2 run that gave the Billikens an eight point lead late in the second half. They went on to win 61-54.

Game of the Day: No. 15 Norfolk State 86, No. 2 Missouri 84: One of the best tournament games I’ve seen in a long, long time. Missouri didn’t choke. Norfolk State outplayed them. O’Quinn was sensational, and he wasn’t alone. Pendarvis Williams and Chris McEachin both went for 20. The Spartans shot 10-19 from three. And more importantly, just made enough plays down the stretch to win. Missouri was a 21 point favorite, the largest ever to lose in the NCAA tournament.

I hope you also saw:

No. 3 Florida State 66, No. 14 St. Bonaventure: Andrew Nicholson was terrific early, but Florida State made a run late in the second half to beat the Bonnies.
No. 8 Creighton 58, No. 9 Alabama 57: Creighton used a 14-0 late in the second half to take a seven point lead on the Crimson Tide, holding on to win despite missing four of five free throws in the final minutes.

They’ve had better days: Virginia Cavaliers: The Cavs were utterly embarrassed against Florida. They lost 71-45 in a game that they never seemed to be in. It was a disappointing end to what had been a disappointing season for UVA.

Them too:

Clint Steindl, St. Mary’s: Clint Steindly traveled on an in-bounds, giving the ball back to Purdue with 20 seconds left. At the time, the Gaels had erased an 11 point lead in the final minutes. Purdue would score the game-winning points on the ensuing possession.
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: Grant’s lane violation cost the Irish a chance to tie the game with 2.8 seconds left on the clock.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Photo of the Day: Ohio’s upset timing needs work


On nearly any other day, in nearly any other NCAA tournament, the Ohio University Bobcats would be the big story.

A 13 seed knocks off a 4 seed? That’s a biggie. When Morehead State stunned Louisville last year, it made the Eagles the toast of Thursday and Friday. A 65-60 win vs. No. 4 Michigan should do the same.

Except Friday turned out to be an NCAA tournament first. Two 15 seeds won. On the same day.

So, Ohio gets the Photo of the Day, as Walter Offutt and Ivo Baltic get to celebrate in front of Michigan’s Trey Burke.

Sorry Bobcats. Best I can do on a day like today.


(Photo credit: Mark Humphrey/AP)

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

More controversy? No, but blame game ruins great Xavier comeback


For the second time in two days, a lane violation on a free throw cost a team a game.

This time, it was Jerian Grant of No. 7 Notre Dame. Down two with 2.8 seconds left, Grant crossed the 3-point line before Eric Atkins hit the front-end of a one-and-one. The shot went in, but the violation was still called. Xavier ball. After two more free throws put Xavier up 67-63, the game was all but over.

Now as you might imagine given the questionable calls that have littered this tournament, the call set twitter ablaze. And quite frankly, the only person that deserves any of the blame here is Grant. He violated a black-and-white rule. He was called for the violation. There is no grey area.

Did it affect the the play? No, the shot went in. But that’s not how the rule is written. If you want to call for the rule to be changed — if the shot goes in, the violation is waved — I’m on board with that. But the referees made the right call by the rule book. You cannot rip them for that.

The real shame is all of this is that Grant’s violation mars what was a sensational game.

Xavier’s Tu Holloway was terrific, scoring 25 points and hitting numerous big shots, included a ridiculous, fall-away bank shot over the outstretch arms of Jack Cooley. Holloway’s play sparked a comeback from 11 down in the second half, one that was nearly stemmed by three huge 3-pointers from Grant in the second half.

Except no one is going to remember that.

The only thing that will be taken out of this game is a missed call that wasn’t even a missed call. And that’s a shame.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ as USF advances


The first half for 12-seed USF got off to a start similar to many of their games down the stretch of the season. The Bulls couldn’t hit a shot, at one point trailing 5-seed Temple 19-9 and shooting less than 10% from the field.

Ten percent.

But as has also happened in many of their games, Stan Heath’s club was able to get going offensively at just the right time. USF opened the second half on a 24-6 run, ultimately winning 58-44 to advance to a match-up with 13-seed Ohio on Sunday.

Anthony Collins and Victor Rudd Jr. scored 17 points apiece to lead the way for USF, who made 14 of 23 from the field in the second half. That was more than enough to erase a brutal first half, and USF’s effort defensively is the reason why.

Temple shot 36% for the game and was out-rebounded 37-28, with senior guards Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore combining to make just two of their twelve shots and scoring six points.

“A lot of times when you’re struggling to score, and I hate to admit this as a coach, but your defense does start struggling because guys get frustrated and all of a sudden you have breakdowns in the defensive end,” said Heath.

“This team has been exceptional at not letting some offensive woes affect what they need to do on the defensive end.”

USF’s style of play may not be pleasing to the eye for basketball fans without a rooting interest (or even their own fans for that matter), but simply put “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, as Heath noted in his post-game TV interview.

The last time USF allowed an opponent to shoot better than 39% from the field was back on February 4, when Georgetown knocked down half of their shots on the way to a 75-45 win. Since that blowout USF is 9-3 and they sit one game away from the school’s first-ever Sweet 16.

“Our guys talked about leaving some footprints in the sand, and I told this group that we’ve already done a little bit but let’s try to make it bigger,” remarked Heath. “And I think the guys, you know, know that there’s more opportunity for us.

“So every little thing I think is good motivation for us, whether we have ugly offense or whether we have a chance to create more history.  It’s all good things that help fuel us.”

Their style of play may not be pleasing to the eye but the goal this time of the year is to “survive and advance”. Simply doing that looks good enough to the Bulls, as it should.

Raphielle Johnson is the assistant editor at He can be followed at @raphiellej.