First Round Recap and Second Round Rundown: Saturday, March 18

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Recap – Indianapolis

Both of the 7/10 games were very competitive, and Michigan was able to beat Oklahoma State 92-91 with a white-hot shooting performance from 3-point land. Wichita State and Dayton also went back-and-forth most of the night, but the Shockers won an NCAA Tournament game for the 5th straight year with their 64-58 win over the Flyers. Neither Louisville nor Kentucky had cakewalks in their openers (especially Kentucky), but they ended up beating Jacksonville State and Northern Kentucky in their NCAA debuts yesterday.

Recap – Greenville

Seton Hall and Arkansas exchanged runs in their opener yesterday, and a controversial (at least in the eyes of Seton Hall and the broadcasters) flagrant foul call tipped the scales in favor of Arkansas and their eventual 77-71 victory. They will face a North Carolina team who skated by Texas Southern. (Joel Berry did get a brief injury scare for the Tar Heels, though.) Duke had no trouble with Troy in their opener, and South Carolina was able to erase a 10-point deficit in the first half and ended up running away with a 93-73 victory over Marquette in front of their homestate fans.

Recap – Tulsa

Baylor fans had every right to be very nervous after they trailed New Mexico State by 2 points at halftime, but they kicked into another gear and ended up winning by a comfortable 91-73 score. They will face USC in the second round – the Trojans were able to pull off yet ANOTHER double-digit comeback against SMU yesterday. The nightcap featured Kansas winning going away against UC-Davis and another huge swing game similar to the aforementioned Marquette-South Carolina game. Michigan State fell behind by 10 points to Miami in the 1st half, but they ended up winning going away with an easy 78-58 victory.

Recap – Sacramento

The four games in Sacramento had brief glimpses of competitiveness, but the winners in all 4 games were never seriously challenged. Oregon and Rhode Island won comfortably in the afternoon session over Iona and Creighton. Cincinnati saved some glimmer of respectability for the American with their win over Kansas State and UCLA ended up winning going away against Kent State.

SECOND ROUND RUNDOWN

(5) NOTRE DAME VS (4) WEST VIRGINIA (12:10 PM, Buffalo, NY – CBS).  Notre Dame really had to sweat out Princeton in their first game and has a much taller order today.  West Virginia’s game against Bucknell was no picnic for them either.  It’s an old Big East rivalry renewed!

(8) WISCONSIN VS (1) VILLANOVA (2:40 PM, Buffalo, NY – CBS).  Nova had no serious problems taking down the #16 seed and Wisconsin pulled away from Virginia Tech down the stretch.  Wisky showed quite a bit of promise earlier in the season and were even ranked in the top ten, but they didn’t look like the heavyweight many of us thought they were.  Still, they do have it in them to challenge Nova.

(8) NORTHWESTERN VS (1) GONZAGA (5:15 PM, Salt Lake City, UT – CBS).  It took Gonzaga about a half to wake up in their first game, but they blew it open in the second half.  Northwestern won one of the more exciting games of the tournament so far as they knocked off Vanderbilt after being fouled intentionally despite being behind.  It’s been a great season and story for Northwestern, but chances are it ends today.  Still, it’d be great if it were to continue.

(11) XAVIER VS (3) FLORIDA STATE (6:10 PM, Orlando, FL – TNT).  Xavier was rather disappointing in the latter part of the regular season, but they played well in the Big East Tournament and looked good in their first round win against Maryland.  Florida State got past Florida Gulf Coast in a game that was exciting to watch.  They have a very strong post game and are very athletic, and that should give Xavier a lot of trouble.

(12) MIDDLE TENNESSEE VS (4) BUTLER (7:10 PM, Milwaukee, WI – TBS).  Middle Tennessee didn’t have too much trouble against Minnesota and is actually the lowest remaining seed.  Butler put away Winthrop without too much trouble in their game.  Despite Middle only being a #12 seed, this should be a very good game as both teams are certainly capable of winning it.

(7) SAINT MARY’S VS (2) ARIZONA (7:45 PM, Salt Lake City, UT – CBS).  Saint Mary’s has had a very good season, but I don’t see them having what it takes to take down an Arizona team that’s good enough to win it all.  Still, it’s an interesting match-up.  This is the kind of game I’d like to see the Gaels get to play in the regular season.

(5) VIRGINIA VS (4) FLORIDA (8:40 PM, Orlando, FL – TNT).  Florida didn’t have too much trouble against East Tennessee State whereas Virginia had to overcome an early deficit to outlast UNC Wilmington.  It should be a defensive struggle, and it’s pretty much a toss-up as far as who could win it.

(5) IOWA STATE VS (4) PURDUE (9:40 PM, Milwaukee, WI – TBS).  Iowa State is on a rampage right now, and as good as Purdue is, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Cyclones ran over them.  The winner will most likely take on Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen (assuming Kansas gets by Michigan State) and although Kansas will be favored Iowa State would certainly have a chance.