March Madness may have easily had its most sane day o the tournament. Especially if you consider legendary women’s college basketball players and literal giants sane. Welcome to the madness and the more interesting performances and storytelling of day 4 of the tournament. This far in the tournament there’s no holds barred as every team that’s made it this far has more than earned it and are incredible in their own right.
The battle of two legendary seniors
The Iowa Missouri match up not only pitted two teams with different styles together but two ball players with storied careers. One etched her name in record books by leading the nation in scoring the other with her fiery play.
Both Megan Gustafson and Sophie Cunningham made major impacts on their schools and the NCAA as a whole but one of them had to go. Cunningham would be the one to fall on the sword is her Tigers would lose by 16 points. The three quick fouls she picked up on the first half really hurt her team.
Sophie would only score 8 points but leave the court as the Missouri’s all-time leading scorer. She and Megan are both projected to go in the first round/early second of the WNBA draft enabling these college basketball legends rivalry to continue.
Watch: #Mizzou guard Sophie Cunningham shared her emotions as she walked off the court for the final time in a Tiger uniform.
"It's not the basketball. It's the family that I'm going to miss the most."
— Andrew Kauffman (@AndrewABC17) March 24, 2019
The men’s side saw major turbulence for many favorites. In the Tennessee Iowa matchup, the volunteers saw a 21 point half time lead disappear in a blink of an eye. Iowa’s zone defense stifled Tennessee’s offense off as Admiral Schofield sat on the bench. 19 of Iowa’s second half and OT points came from Juniors Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook as they tried to claw his team to victory. Yet in overtime Grant Williams and team would get back to business and change what could have been a heartbreaking fate for fans everywhere.
Four seed Virginia Tech was nearly in the same boat as Iowa as they faced a deficit at the half. It didn’t take long for the Hokies to change their misfortune led by Kerry Blackshear’s offensive push in the early part o the second half. They’d erase Liberty’s lead and win by 9.
Sunday was riddled with 15+ point wins in both the women and men’s brackets. Oregon, Mississippi State, Iowa, and Louisville advance to the next round with an average 21 point win. Houston, Oregon, Texas Tech, and North Carolina all walked in the sweet sixteen with dominant performances over their opponents. The average point differential was 19 points.
ZION & RJ
Duke finally played a game where Zion wasn’t the freakiest athlete on the court and it still wasn’t enough to stop him. In fact, it elevated his stock showing off all the things that make Zion the projected number one draft pick. With 11 seconds left on the clock, he caught the ball on the left wing and powered his way to the bucket. He scored over the 7’6” Tacko Fall leading to a spectacular and-1 bringing Duke within 1 point of the UCF lead.
He’d miss the freebie but the beauty of having two top three lottery picks is if one fails another will succeed. RJ Barrett battled under the basket for the board that secured an opportunity a game ahead putback with 8.1 seconds on the clock.
UCF gave the rest of the field the key to slowing Zion down. Find a nearly 8-foot man to patrol the paint for 30+ minutes.