The conclusion of the first week of the NCAA Tournament had more madness, a pair of devastating losses for underdogs and a superstar performance.
The Magic Runs Out
No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin continued their magical run Sunday against Notre Dame, but the harsh reality of the tournament showed that even if you have that March magic, you can still fail to come out on top.
That wasn’t any more evident than during a second half run by the Lumberjacks that had the last 22 points scored by Friday’s star Thomas Walkup and Demetrious Floyd in the final 10:54 of the game.
Floyd scored six straight points off two 3-pointers during that run and the third one appeared to be the turning point of the game.
With an advantage in numbers in transition, Walkup took just enough time to let the Notre Dame defense sink towards the basket and while never losing track of where Floyd was, he quickly turned and fired a pass to a wide open Floyd on the perimeter.
Floyd buried his third 3-pointer in less than five minutes and the Lumberjacks were up three with just over three minutes left in the game.
As fate would have it, what got the Lumberjacks past West Virginia Friday doomed them on Sunday.
Down one on what looked like the final possession of the game, the Fighting Irish had their point guard Demetrius Jackson attack the basket looking to score.
The Stepehn F. Austin defense was as aggressive as ever, with three defenders swarming Jackson and giving him no angle at a shot.
His layup off the glass wasn’t close, but multiple offensive rebounds allowed Notre Dame to take advantage of the Lumberjacks recovering from their gamble on Jackson. Rex Pflueger tipped in the ball with 1.5 seconds to secure the win.
Walkup finished with another great line. 21 points, five rebounds and five assists was nearly enough to overcome his team shooting 8-of-27 from deep, but the magic ran out for Stephen F. Austin.
More Madness and Meltdowns
CBS Sports college basketball analyst Seth Davis has a system on twitter when he believes the game to be over, he will tweet out the teams name followed by “Sharpie” and fill in the winner on his bracket with a Sharpie pen.
It’s rarely backfires, but it did Sunday.
No. 3 seed Texas A&M was headed for a disappointing round two exit when out of nowhere, Northern Iowa completely melted down.
The Aggies went on a 14-2 run in 31 seconds that sent twitter into a frenzy.
The meltdowns continued in overtime. Both Texas A&M and Northern Iowa seemed in a stunned state, as they continued to fire threes and give up open shots, resulting in a banked-in three and Friday’s hero Paul Jesperson trying to replicate his half-court winner with plenty of time left on the clock for a far easier shot.
Northern Iowa alum David Johnson was far from composed.
For the second straight day, there was a five minute stretch of insanity across two different games.
As this game went to double-overtime, Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer to beat Xavier.
Suns forward Jon Leuer enjoyed his alma mater’s win.
Meanwhile, actor Bill Murray was on the opposite end of things.
Meanwhile, the bad possessions of basketball eventually caught up to the Panthers, who were without their star point guard Wes Washpun for most of the overtimes after he fouled out.
The Aggies pulled away late in the second overtime and somehow advanced despite being down double-digits with just over 30 seconds left in the game.
Buddy Takes Over
Buddy Hield turned it on when he needed to against 11-seeded VCU Sunday. Despite scoring only seven points in the first half, Hield’s Sooners led by 13 at halftime.
The second half, however, was a different story. The Rams scored 50 points in the half and Oklahoma desperately needed their star man to have a monster half.
Ask and you shall receive.
Hield scored 29 points in the second half, including 19 of them in the final eight minutes of the game.
With VCU leading 65-63 in the second half, Hield scored eight points in 1:53 to lock up a Sweet 16 appearance for the Sooners.
Neither team had a distinct advantage in any stats when it was all said and done. VCU shot five percent better from the 3-point line, Oklahoma shot three percent better from the field, VCU was plus-1 in turnovers and each team had 37 rebounds.
The difference, as it is normally this time of year, was having that stud player to close the game out.
The superstar season continues for Hield, who is averaging 25 points per game and shooting 46 percent from the 3-point line. Hield showed that form carried over into the tournament, a terrifying sight for the teams left standing after this weekend.
Is Maryland ready for Kansas?
In the beginning of the college basketball season, it was clear that No. 5 seed Maryland and No. 1 seed Kansas were two of the most talented teams in the country.
They both have excellent point guards, a great starting five and balance across the floor.
What ended up happening, however, was Kansas living up that potential while Maryland struggled to find any consistency throughout the season.
Now, the two teams will face off next week in the Sweet 16.
Maryland is led by their point guard Melo Trimble, who scored 24 points and made 13 of his 14 free throw attempts in their win over No. 13 seed Hawaii.
The Maryland of old showed up for most of the game, until that potential finally shined through during a lightning quick 14-0 run in under four minutes. That run gave Maryland a 12-point lead with just over seven minutes left and would be enough to hold off the Rainbow Warriors and advance.
Along with Trimble, the Terapins have an old school bruising center down low (Diamond Stone), a stretch four with power (Robert Carter), a do-it-all wing (Jake Layman) and a shooter who and has tournament experience (Rasheed Sulaimon).
The pieces are there to make the favorite for the National Championship fall and depending on which Maryland team shows up, it could bring us either the game of the tournament or an easy win for the Jayhawks.
The Orange Prevail
Remember the outrage when the Syracuse Orange had their name called on Selection Sunday? Critics came out of the woodwork to admonish the committee for including an SU team that didn’t have a very impressive resume.
The Orange are still standing.
Michael Gbinije scored 23 points and Syracuse destroyed Middle Tennessee 75-50 to advance to their 18th Sweet 16 under head coach Jim Boeheim.
The Orange held Middle Tennessee to 29 percent shooting in the victory.
Syracuse is one of six ACC teams to still be dancing, joining Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Notre Dame and Miami in the Sweet 16. It’s a record number of teams from one conference. The ACC is 12-1 in this year’s tournament. Only Pittsburgh has been eliminated.
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