NCAA Tournament 2013: Best Team Performances from Thursday's Action
As usual, the NCAA tournament brought its fair share of big wins and upsets to the month of March.
Thursday's action saw some dominant team performances, including a blowout win by the Syracuse Orange and a shocking upset by the Harvard Crimson.
We're not looking for dominant performances by single players. We're highlighting the best team performances from Thursday.
No. 4 Syracuse
The Syracuse Orange were absolutely dominant in their 81-34 drubbing of No. 13 Montana in the round of 64.
Syracuse shot 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from three-point territory, out-rebounded the Grizzlies by 11, forced 17 turnovers on 12 steals and recorded 21 team assists. And yes, you read that right.
Defensively, the Orange stifled Montana. The Grizzlies were a dismal 11-54 (20.4 percent) from the floor and an even worse 13 percent from three. Syracuse's defense was so good that no Montana player scored more than five points.
Brandon Triche was the high man for the Orange, scoring 20 points and recording four steals while C.J. Fair netted 13. The Orange attempted 31 free throws to the Grizzlies' 12 while Syracuse turned it over just eight times.
Syracuse was so good Thursday that 13 players were able to log minutes in this game.
I'm sure no team out there wants to play Syracuse, but California doesn't have a choice, as the Bears will meet the Orange Saturday.
No. 4 Michigan
The Michigan Wolverines submitted a group effort in their 15-point victory over No. 13 South Dakota State Thursday, beating the Jackrabbits 71-56.
After leading by just four at the half, Michigan turned it up in the second half, outscoring its opponent 41-30 en route to the round of 64 win.
Three Michigan starters scored in double figures (Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr.) while the Wolverines watched guard Trey Burke dish seven assists.
It was an all-around team win for Michigan, which shot better than 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from beyond the arc. On a night when Burke struggled shooting (2-for-12), his teammates picked him up, as Robinson, McGary and Hardaway combined to shoot 22-for-31—or nearly 71 percent from the field.
The Wolverine's tough defense in the late minutes of the game ultimately soured any attempt of a Jackrabbits comeback, despite 20 points and eight rebounds from Brayden Carlson leading to Michigan's advancement in the NCAA tournament with a matchup against VCU Saturday.
No. 14 Harvard
It takes a team effort to oust a No. 3 seed and that's exactly what Harvard did Thursday night.
The Crimson took down the favored New Mexico Lobos 68-62 as Harvard's defense held New Mexico to just a 37-percent shooting mark. Center Alex Kirk netted 22 for the Lobos, but the Crimson defense stifled Tony Snell, who was just 4-for-12 from the field and finished with nine points.
Harvard saw four of its five starters finish in double figures scoring—including 18 from Wesley Saunders and 17 from Laurent Rivard—as the Crimson shot 52 percent from the floor and almost 45 percent from three-point range.
Despite being out-rebounded and losing the turnover battle, the Crimson pulled out a six-point win by setting up their teammates and taking high-percentage shots. Of the five starters, only Siyani Chambers failed to shoot better than 50 percent from the floor.
According to ESPN, Harvard shot nearly 15 percent better than what New Mexico usually allows to its opponents. The Crimson certainly elevated their game when it counted and will now play Arizona Saturday.
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