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Day 2 of the NCAA Tournament looked for a moment like we could have a repeat of last year’s UMBC shocker, but in the end there was a twin killing in one of the subregionals. Without further ado:
Cincinnati started off the game on a 16-5 tear and looked like they might blow Iowa out of the water. But foul trouble to Nysier Brooks was a big difference – with him in the lineup, Cincinnati outscored the Hawkeyes by 12 points. Without him in the lineup, Iowa outscored the Bearcats by 19. Brooks fouled out at the 4-minute mark and was a major difference in Iowa’s 79-72 comeback victory.
Tennessee also raced out to a 16-point lead in the first half, but Colgate also came back and even took the lead on a couple of occasions in the 2nd half of their game. In the end, Tennessee’s depth wore out the Raiders and the Vols held off Colgate for a 77-70 victory in the 2nd game of the afternoon doubleheader.
In the first game of the evening doubleheader, Washington looked like a team relieved to escape the shadow of the Pac-12 and raced to a 12-point lead at halftime. Utah State was able to cut the deficit to one point later in the 2nd half, but the Huskies countered with an 11-2 run to put some distance between themselves and the Aggies and ended up winning 78-61.
Iona had a great first half in which they shot 10-for-21 from 3-point land and actually led North Carolina by 5 points in the 1st half. UNC did not waste time taking control of the game in the 2nd half – they changed their deficit into an 8-point lead in the first 4 minutes of the 2nd half and eventually went on to an 88-73 victory.
Oklahoma-Ole Miss actually resembled more of a 1-16 matchup than Virginia/Gardner-Webb would – the Sooners jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game and were never challenged during their easy 95-72 victory against the Rebels. Oklahoma led by as many as 29 points before Lon Kruger finally called off the dogs.
For the first 7:30 of the game, it was looking like lightning would indeed strike Virginia twice as they fell behind Gardner-Webb 28-14. Unfortunately for the Runnin Bulldogs, UVa outscored them 57-28 for the remainder of the game en route to a 71-56 victory for the Hoos. DeAndre Hunter didn’t play for Virginia last year due to an injured wrist – he made up for it this time around with a 23-point, 6-rebound performance.
Amazingly, Duke also struggled with North Dakota State in the first half and managed only a 4-point lead at halftime. The 2nd half was, again, a different story where the Blue Devils outscored the Bison 54-35 en route to a 23-point victory.
In the nightcap, Central Florida put on a defensive clinic against VCU for the first 30 minutes of their game. VCU was able to turn a 20-point deficit into a 7-point hole at the 5-minute mark, but they could not get any closer. The Knights won 73-58 for their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory.
Northern Kentucky kept their game with Texas Tech close for a half; they trailed by 4 points going into halftime. The Norse got as close as 3 points following 3 free throws from Drew Sharpe at the beginning of the half, but the Red Raiders went on a 19-7 run to take control of the game and eventually won 72-57.
Buffalo trailed for the first 8 minutes of the game against Arizona State, but a 14-2 run midway through the first half put the Bulls ahead for good and they also won 91-74 without any further trouble against the Sun Devils. This also marks the first season that a team from the First Four will not advance to the second round since the field expanded to 68 teams in 2011.
Houston breezed to a 29-point win against Georgia State in the opener of the nighttime doubleheader at the BOK Center. It was their biggest blowout in school history – even the Phi Slamma Jamma-era Houston teams only managed two double-digit victories during their 1982-1984 dynasty!
In the final game of the day, Ohio State put on a defensive clinic against Iowa State for most of the way. Both teams missed critical 1-and-1 foul shots late in the game, but a missed 3-pointer by Iowa State in the closing seconds sealed a 3-point win for the Buckeyes.
UC-Irvine was a trendy upset pick going into today’s game, and despite falling behind early by 10 points against Kansas State, they were able to control the 2nd half and led by as many as 8 points before withstanding a late K-State charge; they won 70-64 in only their second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.
Oregon also completed the afternoon twin-killing in San Jose with their 72-54 victory against the Badgers. The Ducks were tied 29-29 at the half with Wisconsin, but they pulled away in the 2nd half thanks to a 17-point game performance from Peyton Pritchard.
Mississippi State led most of the way against Liberty in the 3rd game of the day, but not only were they never able to put the Flames away, Liberty actually came back to take the lead for good with 2 minutes left to play. Liberty iced the game away at the free-throw line; they were 20-for-25 behind the stripe for the game.
Virginia Tech made sure that history (2008, Tampa Bay) was not repeated where the lower-seeded teams completed a clean sweep in the first round. They beat Saint Louis 66-52 in a game where the Hokies raced to a 22-point lead at halftime. It was Virginia Tech’s first NCAA Tournament victory since 2007 and they will be looking for their first Sweet 16 appearance in 52 years with a win on Sunday.
SECOND ROUND GAMES
(6) MARYLAND VS (3) LSU (12:10 PM, CBS, Jacksonville) – Maryland survived an upset bid by Belmont to advance to the 2nd round; LSU had a little easier time holding off Yale in their opener. But even that game had a little uncertainly going into the final minute of that game.
(7) WOFFORD VS (2) KENTUCKY (approx. 2:40 PM, CBS, Jacksonville) – With or without PJ Washington in the Kentucky lineup, this is likely to be the game of the day today. Will Wofford extend their school-record 21-game winning streak, or will Kentucky survive an upset bid and move on to the Midwest Regional in Kansas City?
(10) FLORIDA VS (2) MICHIGAN (5:15 PM, CBS, Des Moines) – The Gators nearly blew an 18-point lead in their first-round game with Nevada, but managed to survive and advance. Michigan had no trouble getting by Montana in their opener.
(12) MURRAY STATE VS (4) FLORIDA STATE (6:10 PM, TNT, Hartford) – Murray State does have a history of frequent NCAA Tournament appearances, but a win today would send them to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. Florida State did struggle with a half against Vermont, but they ended up winning without any further difficulty.
(9) BAYLOR VS (1) GONZAGA (7:10 PM, TBS, Salt Lake City) – Baylor was the first #9 seed to advance to the 2nd round this year, but they appear to have a tall order against a Gonzaga team that beat Fairleigh Dickinson into submission back on Thursday.
(10) MINNESOTA VS (2) MICHIGAN STATE (approx. 7:45 PM, CBS, Des Moines) – The Gophers beat Louisville with a little bit of surprising ease in the first round, but they were shellacked in their first and only meeting against Michigan State earlier this season. Were the Spartans scared straight against Bradley, or will they be sweating later tonight?
(6) VILLANOVA VS (3) PURDUE (approx. 8:40 PM, TNT, Hartford) – Villanova remains the last hope for the Big East in the tournament, but this is a rare year in which a second-round loss would frankly not be a surprise. If Purdue tries to play this at a methodical pace, it may actually play into Nova’s hands this time around.
(5) AUBURN VS (4) KANSAS (approx. 9:40 PM, TBS, Salt Lake City) – Kansas has advanced to at least the Elite 8 for the last 3 straight seasons, but that streak will be on the line against a hot (and lucky) Auburn team that escaped the 5-12 upset against New Mexico State in the first round.