Craziness, upsets and games that were decided in the waning sections of action. If you didn't love the second round of the 2014 NCAA tournament, then you probably aren't a fan of college basketball.
The Cinderella stories are already beginning to take shape, and the third round of the tournament will be what really sets the stage for the tournament's top stories. Schools like Mercer, Stephen F. Austin and Harvard have a chance to cement themselves in college basketball history with another win to advance to the Sweet 16.
Harvard is the only one of those three teams in action on Day 1 of the round of 32. We'll have to wait another day to watch the exploits of the other two squads.
There's still plenty of exciting basketball to watch on Saturday. Below, we'll keep track of it all. Check back throughout the first day of the third round for scores, highlights and analysis.
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|12:15 pm||South||No. 1 Florida vs. No. 9 Pittsburgh||CBS||March Madness Live||Florida over Pittsburgh, 61-45|
|2:45 pm||Midwest||No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 5 Saint Louis||CBS||March Madness Live||Louisville over Saint Louis, 66-51|
|5:15 pm||Midwest||No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 7 Texas||CBS||March Madness Live||Michigan over Texas, 79-65|
|6:10 pm||West||No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 12 North Dakota State||TNT||March Madness Live||San Diego State over North Dakota State, 63-44|
|7:10 pm||South||No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Dayton||TBS||March Madness Live||Dayton over Syracuse, 55-53|
|7:45 pm||West||No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 7 Oregon||CBS||March Madness Live||Wisconsin over Oregon, 85-77|
|8:40 pm||East||No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Harvard||TNT||March Madness Live||Michigan State over Harvard, 80-73|
|9:40 pm||East||No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 7 UConn||TBS||March Madness Live||UConn over Villanova, 77-65|
The day got under way with No. 1 Florida taking on No. 9 Pittsburgh, and the Gators were able to hold off the Panthers after they trounced No. 8 Colorado in the round of 64.
Neither team shot particularly well in this one. The Gators converted on just 25 of 58 attempts (43.1 percent), but the Panthers were far worse. They shot just 37.3 percent from the floor. Pittsburgh had just one player (Talib Zanna) in double figures as a result.
Scottie Wilbekin stole the show for Florida. He dropped 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting. The highlight of his shooting day was this buzzer-beater three at the end of the first half:
Head coach Billy Donovan had only great things to say about Wilbekin following the win:
"I'm so proud of where he has come as a person and a player" - Billy D on Scottie Wilbekin— Gator Nation (@GatorsChompAll) March 22, 2014
The Gators will now take on either UCLA or Stephen F. Austin State University in the Sweet 16.
In the second game of the afternoon, Louisville and Saint Louis took part in what can only be described as the worst half of the tournament to date. The Cardinals and the Billikens combined for just 41 points, with Louisville at a nine-point advantage at the half.
Saint Louis failed to get solid contributions from anyone not named Jordair Jett, Rob Loe or Dwayne Evans. The three combined for 41 of the team's 51 points. Jett was prolific at getting to the basket, but he was putrid from the free-throw line. Jett was just 3-of-9 from the stripe despite a career percentage hovering just over 60.
The Cardinals got out of the gate slowly, but Luke Hancock did his best to keep the Cardinals ahead. He scored 21 points in total as the game's leading scorer.
Luke Hancock > Hancock the Will Smith movie #Louisville— Adnan Virk, ESPN (@adnanESPN) March 21, 2014
In the end, this one really came down to missed shots. The Billikens were 0-of-15 from deep—the worst in NCAA tournament history. Louisville converted on 6-of-17 from that distance.
Louisville will take on either Wichita State or Kentucky in the Sweet 16.
Michigan trounced Texas in the third game of the day. The Wolverines were up 43-30 going into halftime and coasted in the second half, beating the Longhorns 79-65.
Shooting proved the difference between the two teams.
Texas was 23-of-62 from the field, including 4-of-11 from behind the arc. Isaiah Taylor, the Longhorns' second-leading scorer, missed 14 of his 22 shots, scoring 22 points. The trio of Jonathan Holmes, Cameron Ridley and Jevan Felix also combined to go 9-of-24 for 23 points.
Michigan didn't have the same problem. The Wolverines shot an impressive 44.4 percent from the field, but where they really excelled was from long range. As a team, they hit 14 three-pointers, a school record in the NCAA tournament:
Michigan's 14 threes are the most in Michigan NCAA Tournament history.— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) March 22, 2014
The Wolverines had four players score in double figures, and Nik Stauskas led the way with 17 points. Jordan Morgan had a huge game, notching a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Michigan will play either Tennessee or Mercer in the Sweet 16.
San Diego State brought a swift end to the Cinderella story that was North Dakota State. Xavier Thames' 30-point performance led the way for the Aztecs in a comfortable 63-44 win over the Bison.
Thus Steve Fisher continues what has been one heck of a job taking a SDSU basketball program that was never more than an afterthought before and making it nationally relevant. The Aztecs are headed to the Sweet 16 for the second time in school history, per ESPN Stats and Info:
San Diego State reaches Sweet 16 for 2nd time in school history (also in 2011). Aztecs have never made the Elite 8.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 23, 2014
Andy Glocker thinks what Fisher has done is historic:
100% serious tweet: Steve Fisher's build job at San Diego State is one of THE great program builds in modern CBB history.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) March 23, 2014
North Dakota State has relied on its offense all season, but the Bison shot only 15-of-49 from the field. It was their worst shooting performance of the season:
North Dakota State shot a season-low 31.9% vs San Diego State. Bison entered game as the best shooting team in the nation (51.0%).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 23, 2014
Taylor Braun was a major disappointment in the tournament. The senior guard came in as one of the top mid-major stars to watch. But over the Bison's two games, he shot a combined 5-of-25 for 18 points.
San Diego State will play the winner of Arizona vs. Gonzaga in the Sweet 16.
The first major upset of the second round came courtesy of Dayton.
The first major upset of the third round came courtesy of Dayton.
It looks like there's a pattern there.
After the first four games of the day were all chalk, the No. 11 Flyers shocked the nation again, with a 55-53 victory over No. 3 Syracuse.
After the game, these were the scenes in Ohio, per William Garbe of the Dayton Daily News:
President Curran, carried down Kiefaber as students shout "Dan! Dan! Dan!" pic.twitter.com/ZGmHw36dkj— William Garbe (@wgarbe) March 23, 2014
When you go to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984, you're entitled to go a little crazy, per Yahoo! Sports' Evan Doherty:
Both Jim Boeheim and the Orange made history on Saturday night, but not in the way they wanted to:
Jim Boeheim is the first coach in NCAA Tournament history with 6 losses to double digit seeds— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 23, 2014
Syracuse was 0-10 on 3-pointers, its worst 3-pt shooting in a NCAA Tourn game. Its shot chart has alot of red pic.twitter.com/JxlbfmpR7K— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 23, 2014
Syracuse shot only 38.9 percent from the field and was outrebounded 35-31. C.J. Fair shot 4-of-14, and Tyler Ennis was 7-of-21. Ennis had a great look from three-point range that would've won the game at the last second, but his shot hit the back of the rim and caromed out.
Riding this kind of momentum, Dayton is capable of anything. The Flyers believe they can beat anybody, and who knows, maybe they can.
They'll get Stanford or Kansas in the Sweet 16.
Outscoring Oregon 48-28 in the second half, Wisconsin avoided a major upset, eventually winning 85-77.
The way the Badgers played in the second half was downright scary. In the first half, they were getting a little caught out because the Ducks were pushing the tempo. Wisconsin was keeping up early on, but closer to halftime, it wasn't getting back defensively.
Then everything did a 180.
The Badgers did a great job of working the ball around the perimeter to give Frank Kaminsky opportunities under the basket, and then when Oregon collapsed on the post, Ben Brust and Josh Gasser were able to knock down open threes.
Wisconsin will be a tough out when it gets Baylor or Creighton in the Sweet 16.
Harvard's dream run in the NCAA tournament came to an end on Saturday night, as the Crimson fell 80-73 to the Michigan State Spartans.
It's the sixth time in seven years Tom Izzo has taken his team to the Sweet 16:
Spartans legend Magic Johnson saluted the team, Branden Dawson in particular, on Twitter:
Spartan Nation: Branden Dawson played great with 26pts to lead the Spartans over a tough Harvard team.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 23, 2014
Dawson narrowly missed out on a double-double, adding nine rebounds to his 26-point performance. He was a scorching 12-of-15 from the field.
Michigan State's defense clamped down in this game, forcing nine steals and holding the Crimson to 41.5 percent from the field.
The Spartans were one of the most impressive teams in the second round, as they knocked out Delaware, 93-78. Although MSU didn't blow Harvard out on Saturday night, it's still looking every bit a Final Four contender.
The final game on Saturday night saw the first upset of a No. 2 seed. In a rehash of what was always a great Big East matchup, UConn upset Villanova, 77-65.
Any discussion of this game must begin with Shabazz Napier. The senior star led the Huskies with 25 points, per SportsCenter:
Believe in Bazz! Napier leads the Huskies with 25 Pts, 5 Reb, 3 Ast. 7 Huskies knock off 2 Villanova, 77-65. pic.twitter.com/hRD2UhiodK— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 23, 2014
Napier was particularly filthy in the second half. Any time UConn needed a shot down the stretch, he was there to knock it down. It showed that when Napier's on, the Huskies can be one of the best teams in the country.
If you're looking for ominous signs, the last time UConn went to the Sweet 16 was 2011, when it improbably won the national title. Kemba Walker was the star that year, and he almost single-handedly carried the Huskies through.
Can Napier do the same this year? If he can, it would arguably be the best individual performance in an NCAA tournament since Danny and the Miracles.