Now that brackets are thoroughly shattered along with the dreams of several top seeds coming into the NCAA tournament, it's time to just enjoy March for what it is—madness at its finest.
Whether it was the likes of North Dakota State winning its first ever tournament game on Day 1 or Mercer knocking off Duke to clinch its first victory in the NCAA field on Day 2, there wasn't a stale moment in the round of 64.
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As the field now turns its sights toward the round of 32, seven double-digit seeds remain with hopes of reaching the Sweet 16 or even the Elite Eight and beyond. Cinderella teams like NDSU and Harvard will once again take the stage on Saturday to see if the glass slipper still fits.
Before the action in the round of 32 officially gets underway, here's a look at the final scores from Friday, along with a look ahead to the rest of the weekend's schedule.
|South||No. 7 New Mexico||No. 10 Stanford||Stanford 58-53|
|South||No. 2 Kansas||No. 15 E. Kentucky||Kansas 80-69|
|South||No. 5 VCU||No. 12 Stephen F. Austin||SFA 77-75|
|South||No. 4 UCLA||No. 13 Tulsa||UCLA 76-59|
|East||No. 8 Memphis||No. 9 Geo. Washington||Memphis 71-66|
|East||No. 6 North Carolina||No. 11 Providence||UNC 79-77|
|East||No. 1 Virginia||No. 16 Coastal Carolina||Virginia 70-59|
|East||No. 3 Iowa State||No. 14 NC Central||ISU 93-75|
|Midwest||No. 3 Duke||No. 14 Mercer||Mercer 78-71|
|Midwest||No. 6 UMass||No. 11 Tennessee||Tennessee 86-67|
|Midwest||No. 1 Wichita State||No. 16 Cal Poly||WSU 64-37|
|Midwest||No. 8 Kentucky||No. 9 Kansas State||Kentucky 56-49|
|West||No. 6 Baylor||No. 11 Nebraska||Baylor 74-60|
|West||No. 1 Arizona||No. 16 Weber State||Arizona 68-59|
|West||No. 3 Creighton||No. 14 UL-Lafayette||Creighton 76-66|
|West||No. 8 Gonzaga||No. 9 Oklahoma State||Gonzaga 85-77|
|South||No. 1 Florida vs. No. 9 Pittsburgh||Florida|
|South||No. 11 Dayton vs. No. 3 Syracuse||Syracuse|
|East||No. 12 Harvard vs. No. 4 Michigan State||Michigan State|
|East||No. 7 Connecticut vs. No. 2 Villanova||Villanova|
|West||No. 12 North Dakota State vs. No. 4 San Diego State||North Dakota State|
|West||No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 2 Wisconsin||Wisconsin|
|Midwest||No. 5 Saint Louis vs. No. 4 Louisville||Louisville|
|Midwest||No. 7 Texas vs. No. 2 Michigan||Michigan|
|South||No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 2 Kansas||Kansas|
|South||No. 12 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 4 UCLA||UCLA|
|East||No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 1 Virginia||Virginia|
|East||No. 6 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Iowa State||North Carolina|
|West||No. 8 Gonzaga vs. No. 1 Arizona||Arizona|
|West||No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 3 Creighton||Creighton|
|Midwest||No. 14 Mercer vs. No. 11 Tennessee||Mercer|
|Midwest||No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 1 Wichita State||Wichita State|
Syracuse (-7) vs. Dayton
After a terrific start to the season, the Syracuse Orange have struggled down the stretch and stumbled their way into a No. 3 seed after being a near lock for a 1 seed.
What this all means for Dayton is that the Orange are now ripe for the picking. But with talent at nearly every spot on the court and offensive firepower that can take down any opponent, Cuse once again looked like a contender for the National Championship.
One of the biggest reasons for the team's success in the opener against Western Michigan was the resurgence of Trevor Cooney. The three-point assassin got going from behind the arc and led the team in scoring, as SportsCenter notes:
Orange crush! 3 seed Syracuse takes care of business against 14 seed Western Michigan, 77-53. Trevor Cooney leads the way with 18 Pts.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 20, 2014
Along with Cooney, the Orange have the likes of C.J. Fair, Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant who can all spread the ball around and score with ease. As for the defense of Cuse, it goes without saying that Jim Boeheim's version of the 2-3 zone makes for one of the toughest sets in the country to break.
Picking against the Orange isn't a smart bet to take. Seth Davis of CBS found that out last year after the opener for Syracuse, as he had to wear an orange wig on air. Dan Dakich of ESPN also stuck to his word and paid off a bet for ESPN CNY by singing.
Though Dayton pulled off the shocker over Ohio State University and got in-state bragging rights, the Flyers will need a Herculean effort to take down Syracuse. Take the points and the win for Syracuse in this one.
Prediction: Syracuse 81, Dayton 72
North Dakota State (+3) vs. San Diego State
Don't let the seeding fool you with North Dakota State.
After putting on a memorable performance against Oklahoma in their tournament opener, the Bison are primed for another upset against San Diego State. Head coach Saul Phillips has his team in the tournament for the first time ever and plans to get to a Sweet 16, per Sporting News:
"I got a group of seniors I don't want to say goodbye to." Saul Phillips on NDSU's overtime thriller http://t.co/LmXHBBFijx— Sporting News (@sportingnews) March 21, 2014
For a school that is most known for its football, the basketball program is now the one making noise. Thanks to sharp shooting from Lawrence Alexander, who finished with 28 points, a .667 shooting percentage and going 4-of-7 from behind the arc against the Sooners, the Bison might wear the glass slipper all the way into the Sweet 16.
We'll gladly be your Cinderella, America.— NDSU Basketball (@NDSUmbb) March 21, 2014
Along with Alexander, senior TrayVonn Wright is a versatile scorer for NDSU and Taylor Braun is the assassin that helped put the Bison over the top. With that type of scoring on its side, North Dakota State will continue it's glorious run over San Diego State.
Prediction: North Dakota State 76, San Diego State 73
Wisconsin (-4) vs. Oregon
Coming in as a No. 2 seed, Wisconsin was not a trendy pick to make it to the Final Four. But after a convincing 75-35 win over American University on Thursday, the Badgers showed they can score and shut teams down defensively.
American was a slow, methodical team that wore down the clock with possessions, but they were undone by Wisconsin's effort on both ends of the court. The Badgers will have to prove themselves yet again when they face off against a fast-paced Oregon team that is just as flashy on offense as their jerseys.
Despite the huge change in offensive styles between their first and second games, junior Josh Gasser spoke about the team's confidence facing the Ducks, per Mike Lucas of UWBadgers.com:
We’ve seen teams that like to get up and down and we’ve seen teams that like to slow it down. A team like Oregon is going to push the pace a little bit more and try to play above the rim a little bit more.
It’s definitely going to be a different type team than we faced (Thursday). They will play faster and there will be more athletes on the floor. But if we follow our rules and the scouting report defensively you can see what can happen.
Along with Gasser, the rest of the team clearly doesn't appear to be lacking any confidence or charisma. Freshman Nigel Hayes had some fun with his coach in a video posted by the Badgers' official Twitter account:
Will all four No. 1 seeds make the Sweet 16?
Senior Ben Brust had his scoring touch as he contributed 17 points in the opening game for the Badgers to go along with Traevon Jackson's team-leading 18. As for the Ducks, the sharp shooting of Joseph Young and inside presence of Elgin Cook, who combined for 42 points against BYU, could be enough to keep them in the game.
But with Brust approaching the school's career three-point shooting record—he needs just three to tie Tim Locum—the senior will be motivated to get the job done from behind the arc.
While Oregon might look like a team that can cover the spread and potentially even win, trust the Badgers to win by five or more over the Ducks.
Prediction: Wisconsin 76, Oregon 68
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter. He goes hard in the paint.