The NCAA tournament round of 64 offered plenty of surprises. Fortunately for college basketball fans, the excitement is far from done.
On Thursday, two Pac-12 teams started off the upsets as No. 12 Oregon and No. 12 California won games over No. 5 seeded opponents. The night ended with a much bigger upset as No. 14 Harvard was able to beat No. 3 New Mexico.
There could be plenty of more interesting results on Friday, but these are third-round upsets that you should expect based on what we have already seen.
No. 6 Butler over No. 3 Marquette
Both teams showed an impressive amount of composure in their first games.
Butler gave up a long run by Bucknell to go down 37-31 with about 10 minutes remaining. However, the mentally-strong squad came right back with a run of its own and ended with a 68-56 victory.
On the other hand, Marquette was in much deeper trouble with a seven-point deficit with only about 90 seconds remaining. Thanks to some big threes and a game-winning layup by Vander Blue, the Golden Eagles were able to escape the win.
Neither team shot well, but the difference is that this is a common theme for Marquette. It is hard to imagine the Golden Eagles surviving another scare by making three consecutive three-point shots at the end of the game after shooting only 30.1 percent from outside for the season.
If the Bulldogs can shoot better than they did on Thursday and keep rebounding at a solid rate, they will once again get to the Sweet 16.
No. 12 California over No. 4 Syracuse
It is tough to pick against a team that absolutely embarrassed its first-round opponent like Syracuse did. Montana fell behind early and could barely get any points on the scoreboard.
However, California was also impressive, although the win was only by three points over UNLV. The Bears shot well and avoided turnovers to stay ahead in this game. It was also one of a few impressive performances from the Pac-12, which went 3-0 on the day.
While Syracuse will be a tough matchup, Cal should fare much better than Montana did due to its size inside and ability to rebound. Even when the shots do not fall, offensive boards will help get some more points.
In addition, playing in San Jose should give the Bears a bit of a home-court advantage over the New York team that traveled almost 3,000 miles to the tournament site.
If the Orange come in too overconfident, California should be able to keep the dream alive into the next round.
No. 9 Wichita State over No. 1 Gonzaga
Gonzaga came way too close to becoming the first No. 1 seed ever to lose to a No. 16 seed. Southern played tough the entire game and were only down one point with two minutes remaining.
Unfortunately, a three-point shot by Kevin Pangos seemed to knock the life out of the underdog and it ended the game.
Still, there are some serious concerns over how poorly the Zags played. The squad could not handle the athleticism of Southern, and the opponent made every shot difficult.
It is tough to imagine the Bulldogs faring too much better as the opposition gets stronger.
Wichita State played outstanding defense against Pittsburgh and won by 18 points despite a terrible day of shooting from the outside.
If the Shockers play to their ability, they can pull off the upset over the No. 1 team in the West region.
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