Daily Sports: The NCAA Second Round Closes Sunday
The rapid-fire process of paring the NCAA Tournament field to the Sweet 16 concludes on Sunday. TheSportsNotebook’s daily sports focus will be, as it has been all week, to look at the TV agenda for today’s games, and then look back on the eight games from Saturday.
SUNDAY’S AFTERNOON WARMUP
Iowa State-Ohio State (12:15 PM ET, CBS)
Temple-Indiana (2:45 PM ET, CBS)
Comment: It’s a Big Ten-heavy start on a day when four teams from the nation’s best conference will be in action. I wasn’t sold on Ohio State at the start of this tournament, and I’m still not. My own bracket had Notre Dame winning in this spot, but Iowa State messed that up on Friday night. I’ll ride the anti-Buckeye bandwagon and say the Cyclones get it down here. You’ll hear from the announcers how they shoot the three, and that’s true, but they also get really good forward play from Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang.
North Carolina-Kansas (5:15 PM ET, CBS)
Minnesota-Florida (6:10 PM ET, TNT)
Comment: You’ve got the Roy Williams Drama going down in Kansas City, and a game that promises to be really good, especially if Kansas doesn’t rebound better than they did against Western Kentucky. And I’ve knocked Minnesota as much, if not more, than anyone these past several weeks, but the Gophers looked good against UCLA. I’m not picking an upset here, but Florida is very dependent on the three-ball and if the shots aren’t falling…
Florida Gulf Coast-San Diego State (7:10 PM ET, TBS)
LaSalle-Ole Miss (7:40 PM ET, tru)
Comment: Nobody who watched Florida Gulf Coast’s upset of Georgetown on Friday is giving this one to San Diego State. The only question will be whether FGC can play at their rapid rate without committing 20 turnovers.
Illinois-Miami (8:40 PM ET, TNT)
Creighton-Duke (9:40 PM ET, TBS)
Comment: I don’t see Miami having much of a problem with an outmanned Illinois team, but Creighton-Duke has the makings of a big battle. I like the Dookies to reach the Final Four, but they have their weaknesses, they’re not a lockdown defensive team and Creighton’s Doug McDermott can score and rebound against anyone. This one is my must-see game of the day.
SATURDAY’S SECOND-ROUND RECAPS
Marquette 74 Butler 72—It was a great battle between guards Vander Blue for Marquette and Rotnei Clark for Butler, with 29 and 24 points respectively. Marquette just makes one more play at the end, and moves on to Washington D.C. next week to face the Illinois-Miami winner.
Syracuse 66 Cal 60—My dream of Cal as a 60-1 longshot to make the Final Four goes crashing down. The Golden Bears played on the perimeter and guards Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs were cold, combining for 2-of-10 from behind the arc and just 13 points. If Cal was going to win, they each player to have a minimum of 13. Syracuse went inside and won the game with a 26-12 edge in free throw points. The Orange draw Indiana or Temple next week.
Michigan 78 Virginia Commonwealth 53—The Wolverines are looking like an elite team again. Mitch McGary had 21 points and 14 rebounds, while Glenn Robinson III scored 14 and grabbed nine. This was a Final Four pick of mine that’s actually holding steady, and my hope was that UM’s inconsistent forwards would take advantage of the home crowd to get their mojo back. That happened, and Michigan now awaits the UNC-Kansas winner for their impending trip to North Texas.
Michigan State 70 Memphis 48—What do you expect from a Tom Izzo team except a physical annihilation of one’s opponent built on lockdown defense and dominant rebounding? Sparty awaits the Duke-Creighton winner.
Louisville 82 Colorado State 56—Russ Smith scored 27 and Louisville forced 19 turnovers. One complaint—Colorado State shot a healthy 48 percent from the floor, something that Louisville won’t survive against a better team. For now, it’s just something for Rick Pitino to focus on over the next few days of practice.
Oregon 74 St. Louis 57—Othern than sloppy ball-handling, with 18 turnovers, Oregon pretty much owned this one every which way all game long. Arsalan Kazemi seems to have morphed into Charles Barkley on the glass. The Duck center had 16 rebounds, completing a weekend run where he had 33 boards against two good teams in Oklahoma State and St. Louis. It’s now a Louisville-Oregon matchup next week in Indianapolis.
Arizona 74 Harvard 51—Mark Lyons scored 27, completing a 50-point weekend. I like the way Arizona is playing, and with my original West pick of Notre Dame out, I like the Wildcats to reach the Final Four. But lest I contradict myself, don’t praise them too quickly. How excited would you have been in December to learn that Arizona won a neutral-site tournament with wins over Belmont and Harvard? That’s all they did here. I like what I see, but don’t anoint what was an underachieving season a success yet, just because the Arizona got a bracket break. The Wildcats get the Iowa State-Ohio State winner next week in Los Angeles.
Wichita 76 Creighton 70—It’s easy to say that the Shockers hit 14-of-28 from three-point range and that makes this win a little fluky. I’d buy that if not for the fact that Southern lit Gonzaga up from behind the arc as well. Maybe it’s perimeter defense. I watched this game in full and Wichita had a lot of nice, clean looks. A sad ending for Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyk, who had 26 points and 9 rebounds and certainly did all he could. Wichita gets the winner of Ole Miss-LaSalle, a prospective Sweet 16 matchup that surely has CBS execs weeping somewhere.