You want more basketball. Frankly, who wouldn't after an opening two rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament that featured monumental upsets, incredible buzzer-beaters and furious comebacks that are still difficult to believe days later?
Fortunately, the NIT was there to fill the void for college basketball fans craving some weeknight hoops with the Big Dance on hiatus until Thursday.
The often-overlooked tournament was not lacking for quality Monday, with strong teams such as the Monmouth Hawks, South Carolina Gamecocks and San Diego State Aztecs all taking the floor. Any of those three schools could have made a compelling case to be included in the NCAA tournament, but the chance to eventually reach Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals had to serve as a consolation prize.
With that in mind, here is a look at Monday's scores from the second round as well as a link to an updated bracket and the quarterfinal schedule.
|No. 1 Monmouth vs. No. 4 George Washington||87-71, George Washington|
|No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Georgia Tech||83-66, Georgia Tech|
|No. 2 San Diego State vs. No. 3 Washington||93-78, San Diego State|
Updated Bracket and Quarterfinal Schedule
|March 22||7 p.m.||ESPN||No. 1 Valparaiso vs. No. 2 Saint Mary's|
|March 22||9 p.m.||ESPN||No. 2 BYU vs. No. 4 Creighton|
|March 23||7 p.m.||ESPN 2||No. 2 Florida vs. No. 4 George Washington|
|March 23||9 p.m.||ESPN 2||No. 2 San Diego State vs. No. 4 Georgia Tech|
An updated bracket and schedule for the entire tournament can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com.
George Washington 87, Monmouth 71
It may not be Middle Tennessee beating Michigan State on the March Madness upset scale, but Monmouth was a No. 1 seed in the NIT and expected to reach Madison Square Garden. Instead, the Hawks lost in blowout fashion to George Washington on Monday, 87-71.
The Colonials controlled the game from the start and led 37-33 at the half. From there, they went on an offensive explosion with 50 points in the final 20 minutes on the way to a comfortable 16-point win.
George Washington had four starters in double figures, including Tyler Cavanaugh, who led the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen each scored 19 points in support, and the team shot a blistering 28-of-54 from the field and 9-of-19 from three-point range. The hot shooting helped it overcome 16 turnovers.
Monmouth received 24 points from Micah Seaborn, but he was only 1-of-6 from downtown for a Hawks squad that shot an abysmal 4-of-21 from deep. Still, Seaborn impressed Josh Newman of SNY.tv in the process:
There are high-major teams that could use Micah Seaborn. I came up with that on March 21— Josh Newman (@Joshua_Newman) March 21, 2016
The biggest issue for the Hawks was the disappearance of Justin Robinson. The MAAC Player of the Year scored only six points on 2-of-16 shooting and drew this response from Doug Kezirian of ESPN:
Justin Robinson playing horribly. Feel bad for him and Monmouth— Doug Kezirian (@DougESPN) March 22, 2016
Next up for George Washington is a showdown with Florida in the quarterfinals. The Gators are fresh off a 74-66 victory over Ohio State and have plenty of momentum on their side. Plus, they beat West Virginia and faced Kentucky, Miami, Michigan State, Purdue and Texas A&M during the regular season.
Playing the SEC power will be a challenge for George Washington, but the Colonials have already beaten Virginia, Seton Hall, Penn State and Tennessee this season and won’t be intimidated.
Georgia Tech 83, South Carolina 66
Monmouth wasn’t the only No. 1 seed to fall on Monday.
The top-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks never had much of a chance in their matchup with the ACC’s Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech seized a 42-28 lead by the half and put things in relative cruise control on the way to an 83-66 victory.
In fact, the Yellow Jackets built the lead up to more than 30 points when Josh Heath drilled a three-pointer with less than 11 minutes remaining to make it 67-36.
They also delivered the knockout punch right out of the locker rooms in the second half, as Eric Boynton of the Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal described:
Georgia Tech get back-to-back dunks from Nick Jacobs and then a 3 from Qunton Stephens to open 2nd half with 7-0 run and 21-pt lead at USC— Eric Boynton (@ericjboynton) March 22, 2016
South Carolina never truly threatened and just closed the gap in garbage time.
All five Georgia Tech starters scored in double figures, and the victors connected on 11 three-pointers and shot 50.8 percent from the field. The Yellow Jackets picked the South Carolina defense apart throughout the contest and clearly looked like the superior team for at least a night.
Nick Jacobs finished with a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards, while Adam Smith spearheaded the scoring effort with 21 points on 5-of-10 shooting from downtown. The team summarized his shooting efforts on Twitter:
ADAM SMITH 🔥🔥🔥— GT Men's Basketball (@GTMBB) March 22, 2016
Only Michael Carrera (17 points and six rebounds) and PJ Dozier (16 points) scored in double figures for the Gamecocks in the loss.
San Diego State 93, Washington 78
At least one better seed advanced on Monday.
No. 2-seeded San Diego State handled No. 3-seeded Washington, 93-78, and established control in the first half. The Aztecs took a 45-29 lead into the halftime locker rooms, although they did allow the Huskies to trim the deficit to single digits in the second half before pulling away again.
San Diego State received double-doubles from both Winston Shepard and Malik Pope in the process. Shepard posted 20 points and 10 boards, while Pope finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds. The Aztecs did enough to impress Eric Bossi of Rivals.com during the win:
And can’t tell me that San Diego State couldn’t have acquitted themselves in the NCAA Tourney. Should be really good next year.— Eric Bossi (@ebosshoops) March 22, 2016
Even with Shepard and Pope leading the way, the story was the San Diego State defense.
Washington shot 26-of-68 (38.2 percent) from the field and 4-of-15 from three-point range (26.7 percent), which was not exactly a surprise considering San Diego State is No. 2 in the country in Ken Pomeroy’s pace-adjusted defensive efficiency rankings. The Aztecs swarmed the Huskies’ ball-handlers and shooters throughout the game and set the tempo early.
Despite San Diego State’s strong defense, Dejounte Murray was solid in defeat with 20 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. Marquese Chriss added 19 points, and Andrew Andrews chipped in 17 points and six assists for Washington.
San Diego State will now face off with Georgia Tech in the NIT quarterfinals. The showdown represents another chance for the Aztecs to knock off a power conference team after they dispatched the Pac-12’s Huskies on Monday.
With regular-season games against Utah, California (a victory), Kansas and West Virginia, it won’t exactly be a new experience for the Aztecs. Still, they will need to bring their stifling defense to slow down Smith and the Yellow Jackets and earn a spot in Madison Square Garden.
Check out Bleacher Report's live updating bracket to track your picks along the road to the Final Four.