Number 1 seeds are dropping like flies and your brackets is in shambles but don’t look away from your screen this is just getting good. The men’s elite eight is in full swing and the women’s Sweet 16 is rounding out in beautiful fashion. The road to the final four is closer than ever and only the best of the best will step foot on it. But along the way are the performance that will make you stop and stare.
Wire to Wire
Michigan St. started the game off hot and never cooled down in their victory against LSU. The Spartans applied offensive pressure from the tip going on an 8-0 run sparked by Freshman Aaron Henry. They lead LSU the entire game never letting their lead drop below six points. Their defense wrecked LSU’s efficient offense holding them below 70 points for the first time since February 26th. Best of all the guy that Tom Izzo tore into was the same guy that lead MSU to victory with 20 points.
Down goes the favorite
Another blue blood bites the dust as North Carolina falls to a charging Auburn team. Despite balanced scoring efforts from UNC Auburn was just better from the field. Auburn covered two of the three categories needed for a 90-50-40 shooting night as a team falling short of the feat because of their poor shooting at the line. Their tough defense leads UNC to shoot 25% from three and forces them into a plus-3 turnover differential. Approximately 15% of brackets had the Tar Heels cut down the nets according to The News & Observer but after last night million will shred their already broken brackets.
Duke is going to the elite 8 by the skin of their teeth. Most thought their near loss to UCF would be enough to wake them up but with Cam Reddish out with an injury, the team looked different. Thankfully, a team with 4 highly coveted freshmen have a stable group to fall back on.
Tre Jones had his best game of the tournament leading Duke through another close win. The game nearly went to overtime as Ahmed Hill had a chance for a game-tying tip-in but just missed it at the buzzer.
Mississippi State’s Tierra McCowan broke a record in her 13 rebounds Sweet 16 performance. She is now the sole leader in career rebounds in NCAA tournament history. Her 255 total rebounds separate her from some of the greatest women’s basketball players to ever grace the court.
Big Time Upsets
Texas Tech’s vice grip like defense takes another victim. This time number 1 seed Gonzaga experienced what it’s like to score against the best defense in the country and they didn’t fair well. The Red Raiders pressured the Bulldogs into a tournament-high 16 turnovers.
What pushed Tech over the edge were its two unlikely heroes, Matt Mooney and Dave Moretti. Both hit big shots to rattle Gonzaga, Mooney in the first half and Moretti late in the second including his personal 6-2 run with 4 minutes to go. Texas Tech is finally dancing in the final four, the first in program history.
Best 1-on-1 Duel
If you didn’t tune in to the Texas A&M versus Notre Dame fight, then you missed the dogfight of the entire month of March. Arike Ogunbowale and Chennedy Carter went off for a combined 69 points, the most by opposing players in this tournament. Ogunbowale who’s most known for her big shot in the championship last season looks prime for another big run after this career high 34 point performance. Carter’s 35 points are her career high. The sophomore from Mansfield, Texas will be a name that circulates in the women’s basketball for years to come.
The back and forth between these players looked reminiscent of a prize fight. Carter’s barrage of the three-pointers fell like haymakers landing on the chin of Notre Dame. Ogunbowale’s scoring repertoire was the combination that buckled Texas A&M as they cruised into the elite 8 with a 7 point victory.
The Purdue, Virginia game is the most thrilling game of March Madness. The two teams had it all: an all-time great performance, suspense, and a buzzer beater to send the game into overtime. They’re combined 23 shots made behind the arc is the highest total in the tournament’s history.
Carson Edwards has been the impactful players of this NCAA tournament season. Edwards leads the field in scoring and with his season-ending Saturday night. According to Sports Reference, his 34.8 points per game ties him with Bob Houbregs for the ninth highest ninth scoring average in tournament history. Oh, and his 28 three-pointers are the most in NCAA tournament history.