March Madness Scores: Biggest Takeaways from Thursday's Action

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IMarch 22, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 21:  Gary Bell Jr. #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs reacts while taking on the Southern University Jaguars during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at EnergySolutions Arena on March 21, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In the frenzy of action that is the first day of the Round of 64, it can be hard to sit back and assess everything that has happened. It is just one thrilling game after another. 

Well, I stepped away from the action long enough to try to glean some knowledge from what has transpired. 


Don't Write Gonzaga off

Round of 64 Result: Gonzaga 64, Southern 58

Gonzaga did their best to fuel the fire that it is an overrated team, which is simply a product of playing in a weak conference. No. 1 seeds are not supposed to have this hard of time advancing past the Round of 64.

However, those struggles don't mean we can all write them off.

Southern played an excellent game, led by Derick Beltran's 21. He was hot from distance as he drilled 4-of-8 three pointers. That performance certainly highlighted one of Gonzaga's flaws, which is perimeter defense. 

However, there is more we have to consider in this performance. Like the fact that this was Gonzaga's first game action in 10 days, and a little rust is not unexpected.

Kelly Olynyk also showed he was legit in this game by scoring 21 points, and the Zags guards came through with big shots. 

While there are certainly some red flags raised in this performance, I expect a much stronger performance from the Zags going forward.

After all, it was just last year when Syracuse barely beat North Carolina A&T in the Round of 64 and still advanced to the Elite Eight. 


Michigan State Needs to Take Better Care of the Ball

Round of 64 Result: Michigan State 65, Valparaiso 54

The Michigan State Spartans looked strong in their Round of 64 game. They were bigger, stronger and more athletic. They certainly looked like a team that can make a run to the Final Four.

However, there is one key area where Tom Izzo's team needs to get better in a hurry, and that is taking care of the ball.

The Spartans had 17 turnovers in this game. 

On the season, the Spartans were not fantastic at protecting the ball. They finished 165th in the nation with 13.2 turnovers per game. While that is not good, it is worlds better than 17. 

It's hard to say if the sloppiness was a product of the Spartans feeling comfortable with their superiority or a sign of things to come. What is clear, is that it needs to get better or this will not be a long run for the Spartans.


St. Louis is Legit

Round of 64 Result: St. Louis 64, New Mexico State 44

St. Louis is coming off a fantastic season, but as a high-seeded mid-major, there are always going to be question marks. It answered those questions on Thursday.

The Billikens won this game just like the way they steamrolled through the season.

The Billikens played amazing defense, were far more physical and still played smart. This is the kind of team that is going to wear the opposition down and close out strong.

St. Louis will be hindered by its lack of rebounding as it progresses, but this isn't a squad any team in the nation will look forward to playing.



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