With all of the second round games now complete in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, we are now assured of complete chaos on the South/West half of the bracket. Charlotte was expected to be a formality for both Virginia and North Carolina en route to at least the Sweet 16 and beyond, yet both teams lost in blowout fashion. Texas A&M brought the Wrecking Crew and blew out the Tar Heels after UNC went ice-cold from beyond the 3-point arc yesterday. In the nightcap, only friends and family remained to see Kansas State survive another run from UMBC – the Wildcats ended up winning 50-43 in a slow-paced game.
Even more chaotic were the two games played in Nashville yesterday. Cincinnati began the game with an 18-4 scoring run and looked like they would completely run away from Nevada. After jumping out to a 22-point lead with 11:34 remaining in the game, the Wolf Pack cut the lead to 3 in the next 8 minutes of the game. After taking their first lead with 9 seconds to play, Nevada was able to keep Cincinnati from getting off a shot as Cane Broome drove the lane but lost the ball before he could get a shot off. This assures that NONE of the top 4 seeds advanced in the South region – they will have #5 Kentucky, #7 Nevada, #8 Kansas State and #11
Gryffindor House Loyola-Chicago.
The city of Cincinnati’s miseries were completed in the nightcap when Xavier blew a 12-point lead in the 2nd half as Florida State took advantage of Xavier’s foul trouble and inability to hit free throws throughout the game. The Noles were 19-for-22 from the foul line and outscored Xavier 18-4 at the end of the game to advance to their first Sweet 16 since 2011. The top 2 seeds are out in the West, but they will still be well represented with #3 Michigan, #4 Gonzaga, #7 Texas A&M and #9 Florida State.
Things actually tipped off in Detroit to begin the day, however. Purdue survived a slow start in which they fell behind by 9 points against Butler, but were able to make a late run in the 1st half to take a halftime lead. They withstood a late run by Butler and ended up with a 76-73 victory. They will advance to the East Region – it will be mostly chalk with #1 Villanova, #2 Purdue, #3 Texas Tech and #5 West Virginia all headed to Boston.
In the 2nd game in Detroit, Syracuse is performing an encore from their tournament run in 2016 where they barely get into the field and end up making a deep run to what will at least be the Sweet 16. They trailed for much of their game against Michigan State, but mounted a late comeback themselves and beat the Spartans 55-53.
Both games in San Diego turned out to be blowouts to cap off the night. While West Virginia’s win over Marshall was hardly unexpected, Clemson handled Auburn with an absurdly easy 84-53 victory. Clemson jumped out to a 43-19 lead at halftime and advanced to their first Sweet 16 since 1997. They move on to the Midwest Region that will feature #1 Kansas, #2 Duke, #5 Clemson and #11 Syracuse.
Be on the lookout later tonight where we will have our Sweet 16 podcast to further discuss the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. We will also preview the Team of the People as Cal Baptist starts play in the Division II Elite Eight tomorrow night against Queens University (Charlotte, NC).