We are down to 32 teams, and thus far, the lack of real drama or noteworthy upsets has some fans a little down. There has been plenty to like thus far, but casual fans may have to look a little deeper.
In the first round, five double-digit seeds won games, including three of the four No. 11 seeds. The only No. 6 seed to win was Cincinnati over Kansas State. Meanwhile, Wichita State and Middle Tennessee also won first round games, but neither was a surprise (or, dare I say, a Shocker?) There were none that get people talking, like a 14 or 15 seed winning, while none of the 16 seeds got closer than 20 points.
Instead, you have to look a little deeper for what there is to like. We’ll start by noting the best performance of Friday, which is likely South Carolina pulling away from Marquette 93-73 in the East Region. The Gamecocks won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in 44 years, a year after they were a notable snub from the tournament. Frank Martin now has not only put them back in the Big Dance, but also led them to a win. Sindarius Thornwell continues to play as well as just about anyone in the country since he returned from his suspension.
Also on Friday night, Michigan State made what looked like one of the best matchups of the first round look like a mismatch by taking apart Miami 78-58. Tom Izzo picks up yet another win as a lower seed, and that sets up this fantastic note from a colleague at CBS Sports as they get ready to play top seed Kansas on Sunday:
As we turn to Kansas-Michigan State on Sunday, a reminder that Izzo is an unfathomable 21-4 on two-day turnarounds in the 2nd round/Elite 8.
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) March 18, 2017
Izzo is a coaching legend indeed, and not one to bet against in the month of March.
Wichita State held Dayton to 31 percent shooting in their win over the Flyers, breaking away late in the game for the win. Now the Shockers will have a highly-anticipated matchup with Kentucky on Sunday, recalling when the two teams met three years ago in the second round with the Shockers sporting an undefeated record.
Ted Sarandis and I talk about all of this and more in our latest podcast, which you can check out right here.
It didn’t take long for NC State to find their new head coach once UNCW was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. Just a day after Virginia beat UNCW in the first round, Kevin Keatts left UNCW to become the next head coach at NC State. Keatts had a great run in Wilmington, winning three straight regular season titles and winning the CAA Tournament the last two years.
With Saturday’s second round game looming, Virginia looks more likely to be a man down as Isaiah Wilkins continues to be limited by strep throat. Head coach Tony Bennett said Wilkins is “doubtful”, noting that he “didn’t do anything (Friday).” The condition has limited Wilkins for a couple of weeks, and Bennett noted that he has lost some weight and has just about emptied his tank. The Cavaliers take on Florida on Saturday.
The second round of the NCAA Tournament is on tap, and we will know half of the Sweet 16 by the end of the day.
- At the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, No. 5 Notre Dame takes on No. 4 West Virginia in the West Region at 12:10 p.m. (CBS), followed by East Regional action as No. 8 Wisconsin takes on No. 1 Villanova at approximately 2:40 p.m. (CBS).
- At Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, the day begins with No. 8 Northwestern taking on No. 1 Gonzaga in the West Region at 5:15 p.m. (CBS), followed by more West Regional action with No. 7 Saint Mary’s taking on No. 2 Arizona at approximately 7:45 p.m. (CBS).
- At the Amway Center in Orlando, West Regional action begins the doubleheader as No. 11 Xavier takes on No. 3 Florida State (6:10 p.m., TNT), followed by East Regional action with No. 5 Virginia taking on No. 4 Florida at approximately 8:40 p.m. (TNT).
- At the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, No. 12 Middle Tennessee takes on No. 4 Butler at 7:10 p.m. (TBS), then the night closes with a dandy as No. 5 Iowa State takes on No. 4 Purdue in the South Region at approximately 9:40 p.m. (TBS).
- An NIT game is also on tap as Ole Miss visits Syracuse (11 a.m. on ESPN), as well as a CIT game that has Saint Francis visiting UMBC at 2 p.m.