Will Trey Burke be able to handle VCU's
Florida Gulf Coast has entered into uncharted waters while a handful of traditional powerhouses avoided letdowns by advancing to the Sweet 16 once again.
How did we get down to these 16 teams?
And why is your bracket so hopelessly in shambles?
Read on for a recap of all the results from a wild tournament weekend.
Aaron Craft came through in the clutch, draining a last-second three-ball as the Ohio State Buckeyes held on to beat Iowa State, 78-75. The Cyclones defense, rarely impressive this year, surrendered .510 shooting from the floor to an offense that’s been the biggest weakness for Ohio State on the season.
Top Performers: Deshaun Thomas continued his sensational season with 22 points, while Craft added 18 points and dished out six assists. Iowa State got a double-double from Melvin Ejim, who finished with 10 points and 11 boards to complement Korie Lucious' 19 points.
X-Factor: LaQuinton Ross gave Ohio State a rare boost off the bench, piling up 17 points on the day.
Next Round: Ohio State heads to the Sweet 16 to face the suddenly hot Arizona Wildcats. Craft will be a difference-maker in that matchup as he pits his incomparable defense against turnover-prone ‘Cats PG Mark Lyons.
Behind a string of late three-point buckets, the Indiana Hoosiers rallied to escape the Temple Owls, 58-52. The IU defense, overshadowed all year by its sterling offense, stood tall in this game, holding Temple to 3-of-24 three-point shooting in the win.
Top Performers: Victor Oladipo provided crucial late-game scoring to lead the Hoosiers with 16 points and eight boards. Khalif Wyatt, in his final game in a Temple uniform, turned in a heroic 31-point performance but saw his teammates held to a grand total of 21 points in the loss.
X-Factor: The Hoosiers kept the Owls off the free-throw line, allowing just eight free-throw tries while hitting 16-of-20 themselves.
Next Round: The win sets up a classic offense-versus-defense clash between the sweet-shooting Hoosiers and Syracuse’s iron-clad 2-3 zone. Expect Indiana (No. 7 nationally in field-goal percentage) to hit enough big shots to pull out another close win.
Kansas’ blistering second-half shooting erased an early North Carolina lead as the Jayhawks cruised to a 70-58 win. KU senior Travis Releford, who averaged 11.5 points a game for the year, caught fire to shoot 9-of-13 and score a game-high 22 points.
Top Performers: Releford got plenty of help from classmate Jeff Withey (16 points, 16 rebounds, five blocks). The Tar Heels, who couldn’t overcome 5-of-19 shooting by James Michael McAdoo, were led by P.J. Hairston's 15 points and nine boards.
X-Factor: The Jayhawks overcame 23 turnovers by crushing undersized UNC on the glass, 47-30.
Next Round: Kansas moves on to what might be the most exciting matchup of the Sweet 16, a date with the prolific offense of the Michigan Wolverines. U-M star Trey Burke will give Elijah Johnson fits, but look for Withey to do so much damage down low (on both ends) that even Burke can’t save the Wolverines.
Behind a 27-5 run early in the first half, the Gators turned a 10-10 ballgame into a 37-15 blowout. Florida was shooting 65.2 percent and took a 48-27 lead into halftime. Minnesota fought back in the second half, but was never able to reduce the 21-point halftime deficit to less than seven.
Top Performers: Andre Hollins (25 points) and Mike Rosario (25 points) went blow-for-blow until foul trouble forced Hollins to sit out a significant chunk of the second half. Florida’s big man Erik Murphy added 15 points and four rebounds while battling foul trouble of his own.
X-Factor: Kenny Boynton was nowhere to be found for most of the game for the Gators, but Scottie Wilbekin was huge. Every time it looked like Minnesota might actually be getting close, Wilbekin either hit a big shot or found an open three-point shooter for one. He finished the game with 12 points and six assists.
Next Round: Florida advances to the Sweet 16 to face soon-to-be in-state rival Florida Gulf Coast. One would think that Florida's size would be a huge advantage in that game, but one also might have thought the same before Georgetown was upset by Florida Gulf Coast.
Florida Gulf Coast and San Diego State went back and forth and back again for the first 28 minutes of the game. When SDSU’s Xavier Thames hit a lay-up to cut FGCU’s lead to 54-52 with 11:35 remaining, there had already been 10 ties and nine lead changes with neither team leading by more than six points.
The Eagles then went on a 17-0 run to open up an insurmountable lead in making Florida Gulf Coast the first No. 15 seed to ever reach the Sweet 16. For the second straight season, no team from the Mountain West Conference survived the opening weekend of the tournament.
Top Performers: Sherwood Brown and his flowing dreadlocks became the face of Florida Gulf Coast after Friday night’s win over Georgetown and followed it up on Sunday night with 17 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Bernard Thompson added another 23 points. San Diego State was led by Jamaal Franklin’s 20 points and 11 rebounds.
X-Factor: Florida Gulf Coast’s Brett Comer did his best Steve Nash impression with 10 points and 14 assists, many of which resulted in rim-rocking dunks.
Next Round: The underdogs from Fort Myers, Fla., aim to keep the dream alive in a battle for state supremacy against the Florida Gators next Friday. It’s been a feel-good story so far, but a win in that game would make this an unforgettably historic run by the Gulf Coast.
Marshall Henderson attempted a third of all Ole Miss field goals in the game, but it wasn’t enough to advance, as La Salle’s Tyrone Garland broke a 74-74 tie with a layup with 2.5 seconds remaining. The half-court heave never had a chance, and the Explorers picked up their third win of the 2013 NCAA tournament—more tournament wins than they had in the previous 58 years combined.
Top Performers: Ramon Galloway led the way for La Salle with 24 points behind 6-of-10 shooting from long range. Tyreek Duren added 19 in a winning effort. Henderson scored 21 points on 21 shots for Ole Miss, while Murphy Holloway turned in 14 points and 13 rebounds.
X-Factor: Free-throw shooting played a key role in this game. The Rebels made just 10 of their 21 attempts from the charity stripe, anchored by a combined 5-of-12 from their primary big men. La Salle, on the other hand, made 13 of its 18 attempts.
Next Round: The Explorers advance to face Wichita State in the Sweet 16 in a showdown that no self-respecting basketball fan could have possibly predicted five days ago.
The Illini lived and died by the three all season. Shooting 7-of-27 on Sunday night killed their season.
Thanks in part to a controversial call that awarded Miami a ball it didn’t deserve with 42 seconds remaining, Shane Larkin’s step-back three with 1:04 to go proved to be the difference-maker in the four-point win, as the Hurricanes advance to the Sweet 16 for just the second time in school history.
Top Performers: Rion Brown came off the bench to save the day for Miami. Durand Scott and Trey McKinney-Jones struggled all night, but Brown scored 21 points, including two free throws in the final eight seconds to put the game on ice. Shane Larkin added 17 and five assists. Brandon Paul led Illinois with 18 points on 20 shot attempts.
X-Factor: Illinois’ D.J. Richardson was the anti-X-factor, scoring just five points on a 1-of-11 effort. Richardson was his squad's second-leading scorer during the regular season, but couldn’t will anything to drop when it mattered most.
Next Round: Miami moves on to wage war with Marquette on Thursday night. Vander Blue vs. Shane Larkin should be one of the more exciting guard battles in the Sweet 16.
Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly were non-factors with early foul trouble, but Duke prevailed against a Creighton team that couldn’t buy a three-point bucket despite leading the nation in three-point shooting during the regular season. Doug McDermott made his first three-point attempt, but the Bluejays missed their next 13 attempts.
Top Performers: Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon hit every clutch shot in leading Duke with 21 points and five rebounds. Despite a terrible night from the field (2-of-9 from three and 5-of-15 overall), Seth Curry's 17 points was second to only Sulaimon. Creighton’s McDermott scored 21 points thanks to a 12-of-12 night from the free-throw line, but simply couldn’t get anything going from the field, making just four of his 16 field-goal attempts.
X-Factor: Duke’s Tyler Thornton banked home a three-pointer as the halftime buzzer sounded to give Duke a six-point cushion at the break. In addition to that prayer, he added five rebounds, a steal, a block and incessantly annoying perimeter defense.
Next Round: Duke advances to the Sweet 16 for easily the most iconic coaching matchup of the tournament, as Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski square off in a battle of the minds.
In a blowout of surprising proportions, the Michigan Wolverines dismantled Virginia Commonwealth by a 78-53 final. Not only did the Wolverines offense light up the fabled VCU press for .517 shooting, but they held the Rams' perimeter shooters to 3-of-16 from three-point range.
Top Performers: Mitch McGary had a career day in the post, tallying 21 points and 14 rebounds, while classmate Glenn Robinson III added 14 points and nine boards. Juvonte Reddic scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but he was one of just two Rams in double figures.
X-Factor: Michigan’s superior length didn’t just bother the Rams at the three-point arc. The Wolverines smothered VCU on the glass, 36-21.
Next Round: The Wolverines draw the winner of the much-anticipated Kansas-North Carolina showdown. Even UNC will struggle to outscore Trey Burke’s offense if the Tar Heels win, but a Jayhawks victory would pit Burke and company against the nation’s toughest defense—a matchup that likely gives the edge to KU, though not by much.
Memphis made its share of comeback attempts, but Michigan State held on for a decisive 70-48 victory. The Spartans may have paid a heavy price, though, as starting guard Keith Appling aggravated a previous shoulder injury in the victory.
Top Performers: Michigan State freshman Gary Harris shot 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in scoring a game-high 23 points, while Adreian Payne added 10 rebounds and five blocks to go with his 14 points. Geron Johnson led Memphis with 16 points, but PG Joe Jackson (12 points and seven boards) was the only other Tiger in double digits.
X-Factor: Michigan State gave ball-hawking Memphis a taste of its own medicine with 10 steals—four each by Derrick Nix and Branden Dawson.
Next Round: The Spartans and Tom Izzo will face Duke and Mike Krzyzewski. The defense that held the Tigers to 30.2 percent shooting will need to play at least as well to get the Spartans to the Elite Eight.
For the second game in a row, Louisville looked the part of a No. 1 overall seed, obliterating Colorado State by an 82-56 margin. Relentless Cardinals pressure forced 19 Rams turnovers, giving Russ Smith and company a 55-41 advantage in field-goal attempts.
Top Performers: Smith took over on offense, scoring a game-high 27 points and even shooting 4-of-7 on three-point tries. Greg Smith scored 14 to lead the Rams, while Colton Iverson grabbed seven boards.
X-Factor: The vaunted Rams rebounders who locked down Missouri couldn’t do the same in this game, as Louisville won the battle on the glass, 25-22.
Next Round: The victory sends the Cardinals to a Sweet 16 meeting with the winner of St. Louis and Oregon. Both teams know how to turn up the defensive pressure in their own right—especially Mike McCall Jr. and the Billikens—but neither is quick enough to beat Louisville at its own game.
Harvard’s 15 minutes of fame ended with a resounding crash as the Crimson got run out of the gym by Arizona, 74-51. The helpless Crimson offense was held to 27.6-percent shooting from the field in the defeat.
Top Performers: Mark Lyons led the Wildcats with a career-high 27 points, while Solomon Hill grabbed 10 rebounds. Kenyatta Smith led a balanced (if anemic) Harvard attack with 10 points.
X-Factor: Arizona’s superior depth paid off, as two Wildcats fouled out, but the team still extended an 18-point halftime lead.
Next Round: Arizona draws the winner of Ohio State and Iowa State, about as opposite a pair of teams as you’ll find. The odds are on the second-seeded Buckeyes, whose D will likely be too much for the ‘Cats to handle—especially for pseudo-point guard Lyons, who would have to face off with defensive wizard Aaron Craft.
The Ducks used a 21-4 run to close out the first half and despite a more aggressive defense, the Billikens could never recover, ultimately losing, 74-57.
Oregon took the normally efficient Billikens out of their rhythm, at times using a zone defense that stymied Saint Louis’ offensive flow. Unaccustomed to facing that particular defensive look, Saint Louis settled for long-range jumpers and finished just 3-of-21 from beyond the arc.
Top Performers: Freshman guard Damyean Dotson was unstoppable. He scored on transition layups, drove the lane and finished in traffic, and drained 5-of-6 three-point attempts. The Ducks dominated the glass, 37-23, due in large part to senior forward Arsalan Kazemi, who hauled in 16 rebounds. Billikens leading scorer Dwayne Evans finished with 16 points and nine boards, but he had little help on the glass.
X-Factor: The Ducks, a 32-percent three-point-shooting team on the season, hit 8-of-11 to help advance to the Sweet 16. In its two tournament wins, Oregon’s hit 16 three-pointers so far.
Next Round: The No. 12-seeded Ducks advance to the Sweet 16, where they’ll face top-overall-seed Louisville. The Cardinals will undoubtedly pressure the Ducks’ young backcourt, which turns the ball over on 21.4 percent of possessions, according to KenPom.com (subscription required).
Vander Blue, the hero of the Golden Eagles’ first-round win over Davidson, willed Marquette to a thrilling second-half comeback victory over Butler, 74-72. Blue led all scorers with 29 points, but no basket was bigger than his game-tying three-pointer with 1:29 left to lock the score at 69.
The Golden Eagles clawed back from an eight-point halftime deficit by forcing 10 second-half turnovers and turning seven steals into 12 fast-break points. No surprise, Blue had a game-high four thefts.
Top Performers: Rotnei Clarke led Butler with 24 points, including five three-pointers, some from NBA-range. Blue was the Golden Eagles’ go-to scorer down the stretch, yet again. He was 9-of-15 from the field, including 8-of-8 from the line. His effort on the defensive end was equally as superlative.
X-Factor: The Golden Eagles hit 85 percent (23-of-27) of their free throws, including two massive conversions from forward Davante Gardner to extend the lead late in the game. Coming into the game, they were shooting 72 percent from the charity stripe on the season.
Next Round: The Golden Eagles advance to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season. They’ll meet a Miami team hoping to make it to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history.
The Shockers hit their final five three-pointers down the stretch as Wichita State knocked No. 1 Gonzaga from the NCAA tournament, 76-70. Led by Ron Baker and backup Cleanthony Early, the Shockers practically got equal production from the bench to that of the first team, with the reserves responsibile for 34 of the 76 total points.
Despite a 12-0 run midway through the second half which saw the Bulldogs take an eight-point lead, mental errors and missed opportunities doomed Gonzaga from advancing to the Sweet 16.
Top Performers: Bulldogs forward Kelly Olynyk played like an All-American, pouring in 26 points and snatching nine rebounds. The Bulldogs as a team had 20 offensive rebounds, but shot just 35.6 percent from the floor. Baker, Early and reserve Fred Van Vleet connected on 10-of-17 three-pointers for Wichita State.
X-Factor: The Shockers shot 50 percent (14-of-28) from the three-point line. On the season, Wichita State was just a 33-percent three-point-shooting team.
Next Round: Wichita State will advance to face No. 13 seed La Salle on Thursday night.
While it was hardly an offensive showcase, Syracuse’s zone stifled California’s scoring attack, and the Orange advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 66-60 win.
Despite a late California rally, the Bears undid themselves with numerous unforced errors and costly late-game fouls. California turned the ball over 17 times and couldn’t find the soft spots in Syracuse’s defense, going just 4-of-21 from the three-point line. Leading scorer Allen Crabbe managed just eight points to go along with five turnovers.
Top Performers: Orange forward James Southerland finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Big men C.J. Fair and Baye Keita combined for 13 rebounds, including six of the offensive variety. Cal forward Richard Solomon was really the Bears’ only consistent offensive weapon. He finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds and was especially relentless on the offensive glass.
X-Factor: The Orange shot an ugly 63 percent (26-of-41) from the free-throw line, but it was the sheer number of trips to the line that ultimately made the difference. In the second half, they converted on just 22-of-36 freebies.
Next Round: Syracuse will face the winner of No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 9 Temple in next weekend’s Sweet 16. Should the Hoosiers advance, it will be interesting to see whether Indiana can navigate Syracuse’s zone since no Big Ten team gives that kind of defensive look.