NCAA Basketball Tournament: Day 2
Though bomb threat free, day two has proven to be just as eventful if not more than day one. There was 5 upsets according to seeds, Kansas went out yet again in the first round, and Uconn was down by 12 in the second half to Albany!
Davidson, like all of the 15 seeds other than Belmont, played good basketball but were unable to come up with the victory. Terrance Dials and Ron Lewis led the Buckeye charge with 19 points apiece, but it was Dials’ dominance down low that really dictated the game. When Dials got going the Buckeyes never let go of the lead. Senior forward Ian Johnson added 24 in his last game for the Davidson Wildcats.
The game of the day today was Iowa vs Northwestern State. Northwestern State was down by 17 and Iowa looked like they were going to take care of business like a 3 seed should with a 15 seed, but then the miraculous comeback begun. In just eight and a half minutes Northwestern was able to erase the deficit and pull off the upset with a 3 point shot by Jermaine Wallace, who saw this victory coming in a dream. Forward Greg Brunner had 16 points and 10 boards in his final game for Iowa as their head coach will now be a leading candidate in the soon to be available Indiana head coaching job. Northwestern State will have to hope the magic carriers on and helps them contain West Virginia’s 3 point attack.
It’s amazing how much things can change in a year. Last year Bucknell wasn’t highly thought of and nobody expected them to beat Kansas. Here we are a year later, and as many doubters as they had last year they have believers this year. Arkansas got 19 points from Jonathan Modica and 14 from Ronnie Brewer, their lone pro prospect, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Bison. Charles Lee led the Bison with 24 points and will need another performance like tonight’s in order to beat Memphis.
In the only 8 9 match up of the day that was a blowout, Arizona put a beating on Wisconsin. Arizona was led by the great play of Ian Radenovic, Mustafu Shakur, and Hassan Adams while center Jason Chappell led the Badgers with 19. Wisconsin had two other guys in double figures, but it wasn’t nearly enough as Arizona just dominated this game from the get go.
Georgetown found themselves down in the game, largely in part because of the 30 points they gave up on defense in the first half. In the second half they knew the defense had to tighten up and it did. They only gave up 19 points in the second half, which helped them pull out a 5 point victory. Big 7’2 Robert Hiddard led the Hoyas with 17 points and will need another effort like that as he gets ready to go toe to toe with Terrance Dials in the round of 32.
The Pittsnogling continues as West Virginiaand 3 point oriented offense will be going into the second round again this year. Southern Illinois wasn’t able to contain the 3 point shot, which led to WV cruising throug the game. The reliability on the 3 point shot is a two way street though as it could help them get past a team their outmatched by. However, with their inability to control the boards, if they’re not hitting the 3 point shot, they’ll find themselves in deep trouble.
Carl Krauser, the 25 year old senior, along with Ronald Ramon and Aaron Gray, were able to lead the Panthers to a 15 point victory over the Kent State Golden Flashes. Aaron Gray, one of the most improved players in the nation, had 17 points on 6-6 shooting to go along with 13 boards. Pittsburgh now gets ready for Bradley, who is riding high after their upset victory over Kansas.
Michigan State had been losing games they shouldn’t have all season long, and did it again in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The George Mason Patriots brought their A game, getting 18 points and 14 boards from sophomore Will Thomas and 21 and 7 from Folarin Campbell. Not taking anything from those two guys, but when you look at why MSU lost the game it wasn’t because they couldn’t contain those two players, but because of the lack of contribution from two of their top three players. Shannon Brown had a horrendous 5 points on 2-11 shooting while senior big man Paul Davis had 10 points and 5 boards, not ending his collegiate career on a high note before he enters the NBA draft.
It was just a matter of time before Memphis took this game over and ran with it. For the majority of the game Oral Roberts within single digits, but about midway through the second half Memphis began to pull away and that was that. On a day where many upsets occurred, Oral Roberts didn’t have enough to send Memphis and their high octane offense home early.
Allan Ray’s return led to a victory for the Villanova Wildcats. Monmouth was no easy out however, as they had a strong second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a poor 16 point effort in the first. It only gets harder from here as Villanova will have to face a tough Arizona team that could surprise them if they don’t play at the top of their game.
NC State finally dropped their losing ways, at the best time too. Going up against a California team that many thought would be able to beat them, the Wolf pack were able to stay close all game while containing big man Leon Powe. It was Cameron Bennerman’s big 3 with under a minute go that put the Wolf pack ahead for good and helped them get through a tough first round match up. They go from having to hold Leon Powe in the first round to Lamarcus Aldridge in the second, as they’ll face Texas on Sunday.
Albany almost upset Uconn and the 90% of the nation that chose them to win the National Championship. Like Memphis though, you just knew it was a matter of time before Uconn pulled away. Marcus Williams led the Huskies in points and assists and was the spark that got their huge run going. Uconn won by 13 after being down 12 to avoid being the only 1 seed to ever lose to a 16 seed in the history of the NCAA tournament.
Bill Self has to be questioning himself as he watched his highly favored Kansas Jayhawks go down yet again in the first round. Taking the role of Bucknell this year, Bradley caused 18 turnovers and hit big shot after big shot to kill any chance of Kansas making it back from the hole their turnover problems put them in. Julian Wright only got off 5 shots and Brandon Rush was just 4-13 in which will likely be his only NCAA tournament appearance as he heads towards the pros.
UNC, the defending champs with just one player from that team returning, barely pulled it out against Murray State. Murray State’s leading scorer was out with a broken leg but was able to hang tough the entire game, before UNC and all their youth pulled out the victory. One of the best freshman to hit the ACC in it’s history did not disappoint in his NCAA tournament debut as Handsbrough had an impressive 24 points and 8 boards. UNC gets ready for George Mason instead of MSU, which would have been one of the premiere games of the second round.
In another close 15 2 match up, Texas pulled out the victory by utilizing the best big man in the nation. Lamarcus Aldridge led the Longhorns with 19 points and 10 boards, second to PJ Tucker’s 11. Gibson didn’t get going until the second half, when he had all 9 of his points and helped UT get some separation from Pennsylvania. UT will face an NC State Sunday that just snapped it’s 4 game losing streak.
UAB and their tough defense early looked like they’d be able to take care of Kentucky, but in the end it was Kentucky who pulled out the victory. The seemingly always disappointing Randolph Morris was harped by foul trouble but Bobby Perry picked up the slack with a game high 25 points. Randolph, an unrestricted free agent in the NBA, will get a chance to show the NBA scouts what he can do Sunday as he’ll match up against Josh Boone and Hilton Armstrong, two future NBA big men.
Friday had it’s fair share of bracket busters, but Saturday is when things get serious with some big time match ups. GW could surprise Duke if they don’t get any contribution from their supporting cast, Florida can’t overlook Wisconsin Milwaukee, and Tennessee will definitely have to play better than they did against Winthrop if they want to beat Wichita State.