Day 1 of this year’s Sweet Sixteen epitomized everything great about March Madness: crazy, competitive games with equally crazy outcomes. The Fourth String team recaps the action from all four games from the night.
#3 Oregon defeats #7 Michigan 69-68
Oregon-Michigan promised to be one of the most intense and competitive games of the tournament so far, and boy did it deliver. 10 lead changes and a maximul lead of 6 led to a crazy series to finish out the game, where the Ducks’ Tyler Dorsey (20pts, 3reb) scored the go-ahead layup. The Wolverines ended up with one last chance to win the game, but Derrick Walton Jr (20pts, 8ast) missed the buzzer-beating 3, ending Michigan’s tournament run. Oregon exploited Michigan’s weaknesses inside throughout the entire game, outscoring the Wolverines 36-14 in the paint and beating them on the glass 36-31. Ducks’ Junior Forward Jordan Bell had a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds while Guard Tyler Dorsey scored 20 points. On the Wolverines, Senior Guard Derrick Walton Jr. scored 20 points and Senior Guard Zak Irvin scored 19 in their last game with Michigan. The Oregon Ducks will go on to play #1 Kansas in two day’s time.
#1 Gonzaga defeats #4 West Virginia 61-58
#1 Gonzaga finally managed to prove itself by defeating defensively tough #4 West Virginia in a second close game decided in the final few minutes. The Mountaineers missed two critical field goals after granting the Bulldogs the lead on a turnover, then proceeded to fall apart in their last drive and chuck up several awful three-point shots. The Bulldogs’ offense, although it seemed rattled and unprepared for West Virginia’s full court press at times, got the job done while Gonzaga crushed the Mountaineer’s defensively. West Virginia was a dismal 26% from the field, only kept alive by their strong defense, 21 free throws, and 41 boards. Fouls reigned down upon both teams, with a grand total of 51 personal fouls between the two teams resulting in 42 points from the line. Junior Guard Jevon Carter scored 21, the only Mountaineer to crack double-digit scoring, while every Gonzaga starter except Sophomore Guard Josh Perkins was in double digits. The Bulldogs will play Xavier tomorrow.
#1 Kansas defeats #4 Purdue 98-66
#1 Kansas showed why they remain the favorites to win the NCAA tournament by breezing past #4 Purdue in the second half. Despite going down early in the first half, the Jayhawks lead at the half by 7 and afterwards never even let the Boilermakers even get close. Senior Guard Frank Mason III and Junior Guard Devonte’ Graham each scored a monstrous 26 points for Kansas, while Purdue’s Sophomore Forward Caleb Swanigan scored only 18 with 7 rebounds. Aside from Junior Guard P.J. Thompson’s 12 point performance, no player on Purdue could seem to keep up with the explosive speed and scoring potential of Kansas. Kansas shot an astounding 54% from the field, along with 52% from beyond the arc to propel their high scoring. On defense, the Jayhawks held Purdue to 42% from the field while forcing 16 turnovers. Kansas will play #3 Oregon on the 26th.
#11 Xavier defeats #2 Arizona 73-71
#11 Xavier continued its pseudo-Cinderella run by upsetting the #2 Arizona Wildcats in a thrilling finish that saw Xavier come back from an 8 point deficit on a 12-2 run. The Musketeers have proved they belong by defeating #3 FSU and #2 Arizona back to back, making them the only team to knock off 3 higher-seeded teams in the tournament. This game was marked by the intense fight between Xavier Junior Guard Trevor Bluiett (25pts) and Arizona Senior Guard Kadeem Allen (8pts), who at one point received matching technical fouls for their shoving matches. Arizona Sophomore Guard Allonzo Trier stole the show during the second half, putting his team on his back and scoring 15 straight points for the Wildcats. In the end, however, Xavier managed to pull off another come-from-behind miracle to survive and advance to the Elite Eight. Xavier will play Gonzaga tomorrow.
The Fourth String Team