NCAA Tournament: Recapping the First and Second Rounds
So far, the 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has seen it all.
There have been buzzer-beating shots, double-overtime games, and upsets galore.
Brackets have been busted, and grown men have held their hearts in their mouths as a round basketball is shot towards a round cylinder.
The nation watched the Davids beat the Goliaths, with Northern Iowa, St. Mary’s, Washington, and Cornell all making it into the Sweet 16, as well as Ohio, Murray St., and Old Dominion pulling off big upsets in the first round.
We saw the latest “shot heard around the world” when Northern Iowa’s senior point guard Ali Farokmanesh (Mr. Clutch) hit a wide-open three-pointer with 35.5 seconds remaining, in the bracket busting and incredible 69-67 win over Kansas.
We saw a man who, off the court, has incredible charisma and media presence, but on the court, become a human scoring machine. This man, St. Mary’s senior center Omar Samhan, registered a combined 61 points and 19 rebounds in the two upset wins, first over No. 7 Richmond, and then over No. 2 Villanova.
We saw a team full of non-scholarship athletes play two of the best defensive teams in the nation (No. 5 Temple, then No. 4 Wisconsin), and win convincingly. Cornell became the first team from the Ivy League to make the Sweet 16 since 1979, and did it with a roster that includes nine (that’s right, nine) seniors, including four of them in the starting lineup.
There were also some great individual performances in the first and second round.
BYU’s junior shooting guard Jimmer Fredette scored 37 points, as the Cougers beat the Florida Gators, 99-92, in double overtime.
Ohio’s (former Hoosier) senior shooting guard Armon Basset scored 32 points in his team's stunning 97-83 win over Georgetown.
Kansas St.’s junior guard Jacob Pullen scored 34 points in their 84-72 win over BYU.
Maryland’s freshman forward Jordan Williams scored a career-high 21 points, along with 17 rebounds, in his team's win over Houston, 89-77.
Syracuse’s junior forward Wesley Johnson scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in their demolition win over Gonzaga, 87-65.
And there were some amazing buzzer beaters during the first weekend of March Madness.
Murray State’s (No. 13 seed) senior forward Danero Thomas nailed a mid-range jumper as time expired to lead his team to a 66-65 upset over Vanderbilt (No. 4 seed).
The aforementioned Ali Farokmanesh of Northern Iowa (No. 9 seed) hit a three with seven seconds left to beat UNLV (No. 8 seed), 69-66. It was his fifth three-pointer of the game.
Washington’s (No. 11 seed) senior forward Quincy Pondexter came up big with a huge layup off a drive from the top of the key with one second remaining on the clock. That shot put the score at 80-78, and gave the Huskies the upset victory over Marquette (No. 6 seed).
Wake Forest’s (No. 9 seed) senior guard Ishmael Smith hit a tough jumper from the right side of the court with 1.3 seconds to complete a comeback in overtime for his Demon Deacons, and beat the Texas Longhorns, 81-80.
Michigan St.’s (No. 4 seed) sophomore guard Korie Lucious, filling in for an injured Kalin Lucas, nailed a clutch three-point shot at the buzzer to give his Spartans an 85-83 victory over the Maryland Terrapins (No. 5 seed).
Purdue’s (No. 4 seed) senior guard and glue guy Chris Kramer hit arguably the biggest shot of his life: He crossed over his defender, drove in the lane, and hit a layup as time expired in overtime to grab a 63-61 win over Texas A&M (No. 5 seed).
After just one weekend, the 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament has already given as much excitement in one weekend as we have seen in the previous couple of years.
And with Cinderella’s Northern Iowa, Cornell, and St. Mary’s still in the field, maybe the best is yet to come.
They don’t call it March Madness for nothing.
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