Day two of the NCAA Tournament brought more upsets and signature names from unexpected places.
The No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders had the firepower to put up a fight as a lower seed. Starting five 3-point shooters and having the most accurate one in the country (Giddy Potts) meant trouble could be brewing.
Unfortunately for the Blue Raiders, they drew a first-round matchup against No. 2 seed Michigan State, which had the second-best odds to win the tournament in Vegas. As it turns out, that didn’t matter for MTSU after a miraculous 90-81 win.
They went 11-of-19 from deep, shot 56 percent from the field and fought on the glass to only a minus-2 rebounding disadvantage. That energy is even more impressive considering the Blue Raiders had only 19 minutes of play from their bench. All five starters scored in double figures.
Michigan State couldn’t get a stop. The Spartans shot 56 percent as well but were minus-4 on turnovers, and every time they got within a possession, they couldn’t score on the following one to tie or take the lead.
Five Minutes Of Madness
It’s called March Madness for a reason. Over the span of five minutes in real time during the last two games of the day, Northern Iowa made a half-court buzzer-beater to beat 6-seeded Texas and No. 8 seed Saint Joseph’s survived after Cincinnati was milliseconds away from tying the game.
In case Paul Jesperson’s heave wasn’t impressive enough, check out a video from the crowd to grasp how far the ball traveled.
The Thomas Walkup Show
Ali Farokhmanesh. Kyle O’ Quinn. “Dunk City.” Every couple of years, March Madness produces another star team or player in the tournament and this year, that may be Stephen F. Austin’s Thomas Walkup.
In a matchup featuring the two best teams in the country at producing turnovers, Stephen F. Austin dominated 3-seeded West Virginia. The Lumberjacks were plus-15 on turnovers, which helped neutralize the plus-15 advantage for the Mountaineers in rebounding.
The 28-4 edge in points off turnovers was led by Walkup, who finished with the best line of the tournament so far: 33 points, nine rebounds, four assists, four steals and one block, including a 19-for-20 job well done at the foul line.
Sometimes, it’s just your night, and late in the game with the Lumberjacks in firm control, the 24 percent 3-point shooter hit the dagger.
If anyone earned the right to stick their tongue out Friday, it was Walkup.
It’s heartbreaking to see a team at the most pivotal moment in the season make a crucial mistake and that’s exactly what happened in 7-seeded Iowa’s win over Temple.
With 2.1 seconds left up three and precise instructions not to foul, Iowa’s Anthony Clemmons fouled Temple’s Quenton DeCosey as he shot a 3-pointer. DeCosey made all three and it looked like that would be the story of the game and the season for the Hawkeyes.
Luckily for Clemmons, Iowa came back in overtime and won on a last-second tip-in by Adam Woodbury to win the game 72-70.
Jaylen Brown flops on the biggest stage
For an elite NBA prospect, March Madness is a time to prove what your worth to NBA scouts. Names like C.J. McCollum, Stephen Curry and Jimmer Fredette can attest to how much it can improve your draft stock.
California’s Jaylen Brown was seen by many as the second-best NBA prospect in the NCAA Tournament behind Duke’s Brandon Ingram and the bright stage could be even brighter for him with Tyrone Wallace and Jabari Bird out for the Bears.
Instead of shining and carrying his team, Brown had his worst game of the season. He shot 1-of-6 from the field, committed seven turnovers and played only 17 minutes because of foul trouble. With 6:22 left in the game and the Rainbow Warriors beginning to take control of the game with a 61-53 lead, Brown fouled out of the game.
Ivan Rabb and Jordan Mathews did their part, combining for 36 points, but Cal couldn’t overcome the absences and the play of Brown, falling to Hawaii 77-66.
Brown gets flack for being too one-dimensional as an offensive player, not having a versatile offensive game and being too out of control. His performance on Friday didn’t help doubt the naysayers and although nothing major will happen to his draft stock, it certainly dropped.
The Two Seed Switcheroo
Tom Izzo’s Spartans have a reputation for making deep runs in the tournament and avoiding upsets. Jay Wright’s No. 2 seed Villanova Wildcats have a reputation for the opposite, but that didn’t stop them from flipping the script and dominating UNC Asheville.
Villanova won by 30, shot 58 percent from the field and made 13 3-pointers. It faces Iowa on Sunday and hopes a win in a similar fashion will shake off the notion that we shouldn’t expect them to make it out of the first weekend.
More Pac-12 losses and top seed blowouts
Two themes from yesterday carried over, with another No. 1 seed picking up an easy win and the Pac-12 continuing to struggle.
The good news for the Pac-12 is that their best team took care of business on Friday. No. 1 seed Oregon cruised to a 91-52 victory over Holy Cross in dominating fashion, refusing to let up the entire game.
That would be only the second Pac-12 win of the first two days. No. 7 seed Oregon State was upset by Virginia Commonwealth and the same happened to 4th-seeded Cal against Hawaii.
Both teams, however, had their losses in personnel. Oregon State was without second-leading scorer Tres Tinkle and California had the aforementioned losses of Wallace and Mathews.
Still, the results of the past two days cannot be a positive for the future of the Pac-12 in the NCAA Tournament.
- Xavier, Cincy, UNC and Michigan State upset in NCAA Tournament
- Michigan State hits a wild first half buzzer-beater in NCAA Tournament
- Arizona Wildcats a popular pick for some to go deep in NCAA Tournament
- Arizona State drops third straight game in loss to Oregon State
- Conference-leading Wildcats prepared for challenging Oregon trip