The second night of the Sweet Sixteen may not have started off very exciting, but it ended with some of the best basketball of the tournament. The Fourth String teams recaps all the action from all four of tonight’s games.
#1 UNC defeats #4 Butler 92-80
In our Sweet Sixteen Day 2 Preview, we mentioned how Junior Guard Joel Berry II had to get out of the shooting funk caused by his ankle injury. And shoot he did: Berry scored 26 points and, alongside Justin Jackson’s 24 points, lead #1 UNC to an easy victory over #4 Butler. The only time the Tar Heels trailed in the game was when Butler lead 3-2, and the Tar Heels lead by double digits for almost all of the game. Senior Forward Andrew Chrabascz put up 21 points and 7 rebounds, but the Bulldogs were never even in this game. #1 UNC will play #2 Kentucky on March 26th.
#7 South Carolina defeats #3 Baylor 70-50
Despite being an upset, the second game of the evening was just as uncompetitive as the first. The game started out close, but Senior Guard Sindarious Thornwell (24pts) and the rest of the Gamecocks got red-hot to deliver #3 Baylor its worst tournament loss in program history. It all went downhill for the Bears after a 6 minute stretch in the first half where they failed to score at all, leading to a 15 point deficit that Baylor was unable to overcome. It’s worth noting that before this year South Carolina had never won a tournament game in program history, but have now knocked off #2 Duke and #3 Baylor in quick succession. The Gamecocks will be a force to be reckoned with in the Elite Eight, and they play #4 Florida tomorrow, March 26th.
#2 Kentucky defeats #3 UCLA 86-75
What promised to be one of the most explosive, high-paced, offensive games this tournament delivered in every way possible. #2 UK pulled away early in the second and kept extending their lead behind monstrous performances from their star Freshman backcourt duo: Malik Monk scored 21 and De’Aaron Fox scored a monstrous 39 points. Fox actually had the highest production from any single player in this year’s NCAA tournament, according to CBS and set a record for most points by a Freshman in the tournament. UCLA and Kentucky both put up huge offensive numbers with UCLA shooting 52% and Kentucky shooting 49% from the field, but the difference came from the defensive end. Kentucky forced 13 turnovers while UCLA Junior Thomas Welsh fouled out early and the Wildcats scored 14 points on free throws. UCLA Freshman Guard Lonzo Ball scored only 10 points in what is likely his last game as a Bruin, shooting 40% from the field but only 1-6 from beyond the arc. #2 Kentucky will play #1 UNC Sunday, March 26th
#4 Florida defeats #8 Wisconsin 84-83 in OT
#8 Wisconsin was down 11 points with five minutes to go before rallying back into the game and forced a 72-72 tie at the end of regulation. The Badgers forced the first overtime of this tournament, and managed to draw several fouls and force #4 Florida to turn the ball over. Florida stayed in the game as Wisconsin missed plenty of free throws. Florida rallied to tie the game at 82 after Canyon Barry blocked Nigel Hayes layup. Hayes drove the the basket for a layup, getting fouled on the play and making both free throws. Down 2 with only seconds on the clock, the Gators handed the ball to Junior Guard Chris Chiozza who made a crazy three-pointer and the first game-winning buzzer-beater of this year’s NCAA tournament. The Gators will play #7 South Carolina tomorrow, March 26th
While the night may have started out dull, it certainly didn’t end that way. And remember this: it only gets better from here.
The Fourth String team