NCAA Tournament 2021: B/R Expert Predictions, Updated Results for 2nd Round

Bleacher Report College Basketball StaffFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2021

NCAA Tournament 2021: B/R Expert Predictions, Updated Results for 2nd Round

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    Oral Roberts' Max Abmas
    Oral Roberts' Max AbmasRobert Franklin/Associated Press

    And that's that for the second round of the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament. With a stunning 34-point blowout by USC against Kansas, the Big Dance shimmies toward the Sweet 16.

    Once again, our grand delusions of filling out the perfect bracket fell by the wayside in a New York minute. But here we are, looking back at an incredible, historic Round of 32.

    On Sunday, we saw our first No. 1 seed get bounced, while lovable underdogs like Loyola-Chicago, Oral Roberts and Oregon State all extended their time in the national spotlight.

    On Monday, the underdogs weren't as lucky until the lower-seeded, No. 6 Trojans absolutely dismantled a No. 3 Jayhawks roster. Here's how each matchup in the second round played out, with key contributors and the biggest moments all recapped.

No. 7 Oregon 95, No. 2 Iowa 80

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    Associated Press

    The Oregon Ducks were not affected by the extra two days they had to wait to get on the court in Indianapolis.

    Oregon splashed 11 three-point shots and shot 55.9 percent from the field to extend the Pac-12's incredible start in the Big Dance.

    The Iowa Hawkeyes tried to hang with the Ducks through the play of Luka Garza, but Oregon broke the contest open at the end of the first half

    Dana Altman's squad used a 10-0 run that was spurred by back-to-back three-point shots from LJ Figueroa to take a 10-point lead into the locker room.

    Oregon did not let Iowa back in the game after that, holding a double-digit advantage for a majority of the contest.

    Figueroa and the four other Oregon starters combined to score 89 of the team's 95 points.

    Oregon is the second Pac-12 team to advance to the Sweet 16 after the Oregon State Beavers clinched their spot Sunday night. The conference is currently 7-0 in the Big Dance. 

    Iowa's loss marked another defeat for the Big Ten, which is now down to Michigan and Maryland.


    Top Performers

    Chris Duarte and Figueroa led Oregon's tremendous shooting performance with 23 and 21 points, respectively. They combined to go 17-of-26 from the field.

    Garza, who is the National Player of the Year front-runner, finished his collegiate career with 36 points and nine rebounds.


    Next Round

    Oregon will clash with the USC Trojans in an all-Pac-12 Sweet 16 clash.

    —Updated by Joe Tansey.

No. 1 Gonzaga 87, No. 8 Oklahoma 71

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    Gonzaga's Joel Ayayi
    Gonzaga's Joel AyayiYoung Kwak/Associated Press

    The Gonzaga Bulldogs did not take their usual path to a double-digit win on Monday.

    The Oklahoma Sooners gave the undefeated Zags a fight from start to finish, which was expected from a team that had four regular-season victories over Top 10 teams.

    Lon Kruger's Sooners gave Gonzaga their best punch, especially in the first half. The No. 1 overall seed did not pull away until the final five minutes of the first half, when the Bulldogs turned a three-point advantage into a comfortable 12-point lead at halftime.

    Oklahoma remained within striking distance for parts of the second half thanks to Austin Reaves, who at one point traded buckets with Drew Timme in an attempt to close the gap.

    However, Timme, Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs had an answer for everything the Big 12 side threw at them, and their advantage did not dip below nine points in the final few minutes.

    Gonzaga finished off the win with a three-point shot and two free throws from Kispert and one point from Suggs after Elijah Harkless committed a flagrant foul.


    Top Performers

    Timme controlled stretches of the game in the paint on his way to 30 points and 13 rebounds. He went 9-of-12 from the field.

    Reaves was fantastic in a losing effort, putting up 27 points and making a game-high 11 field goals.


    Next Round

    Gonzaga will play the Creighton Bluejays in the Sweet 16 on Sunday, March 28.

    —Updated by Joe Tansey. 

No. 11 UCLA 67, No. 14 Abilene Christian 47

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    UCLA's Johnny Juzang (center)
    UCLA's Johnny Juzang (center)Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Abilene Christian's effort to keep pace with UCLA quickly turned sour. While the Wildcats built up a four-point lead in the first half, the Bruins stormed back, took the lead with about 13 minutes left in the first period and never looked back.

    Holding Abilene Christian to a meager 29.8 field-goal percentage (and 21.1 percent from three), UCLA used a balanced performance and showed dominant form in its trip to the Sweet 16.

    With three players scoring in double digits and seven scoring at least five points, an efficient Bruins offense extended its lead with production spread across the roster. The team finished with strong percentages from the field (46.6 percent) and three (36.8 percent) as its stifling defense kept the Wildcats under 50 points.


    Top Performers

    For Abilene Christian, it was guard Mahki Morris, who put up 14 points on 50 percent shooting off the bench. For the Bruins, guard Johnny Juzang netted 17 points while Jaime Jaquez Jr. put up 10 points and seven rebounds. Big man Cody Riley secured a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.


    Next Round

    UCLA will face Alabama in the Sweet 16 on Sunday, March 28.

    —Updated by Théo Salaun.

No. 5 Creighton 72, No. 13 Ohio 58

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    Creighton's Marcus Zegarowski elevates
    Creighton's Marcus Zegarowski elevatesMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    It wasn't pretty by the end of the first half and it wasn't pretty at the final buzzer, but the Ohio Bobcats gave themselves a chance against No. 5 Creighton. 

    After Ohio kept things very tight in the first, Creighton mounted an 18-4 run to go into the second period with a 15-point lead. That got narrowed to six with about five minutes left in the second, thanks to some Ohio resilience.

    Fortunately for Bluejays fans, that Ohio run didn't pan out. Ultimately, it was Creighton's balanced offense (all five starters scored in the double digits) and defense (Ohio was held to 31.8 percent from the field and 23.3 percent from three) that kept the Bluejays' bracket moving forward.


    Top Performers

    Ohio's season leader in points per game, Jason Preston, struggled from the field, but Creighton's Marcus Zegarowski did not. As the top Bobcat only scored four on 1-10 shooting, the top Bluejay, Zegarowski, maintained his production.

    With 20 points, thanks to a smooth 4-of-7 from deep, the junior guard led Creighton in scoring. Inside, he was helped by Christian Bishop, who piled up 12 points and 15 rebounds.


    Next Round

    Creighton will meet top-seeded Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 on Sunday, March 28.


    —Updated by Théo Salaun.

No. 1 Michigan 86, No. 8 LSU 78

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    Michigan's Eli Brooks
    Michigan's Eli BrooksDarron Cummings/Associated Press

    Early on, it looked like LSU star freshman Cameron Thomas would be leading the Tigers to an upset over Michigan. At one point in the first period, he was single-handedly keeping pace with the Wolverines, matching their 12 points with 12 of his own.

    Going into the second half, Michigan had survived Thomas' heroics and carved out a one-point lead. Four lead changes later and the Wolverines retook that lead, eventually grinding to the final eight-point victory.

    Shooting percentages ended up being the decisive factor in the highly anticipated matchup as LSU took a whopping 69 shots (17 more than Michigan) but only scored on 39.1 percent of them. A composed, balanced Wolverines roster hit 53.8 percent of its field goals and a red-hot 40.0 percent of its threes to secure a trip to the Sweet 16. 


    Top Performers

    While inefficient, Thomas and fellow guard Javonte Smart combined to help LSU with 57 points. On the Michigan end, four players hit double digits, but guard Eli Brooks paved the way with 21 points, four rebounds and seven assists while Chaundee Brown Jr. pitched in another 21 (on 6-of-9 from the field) off the bench.


    Next Round

    Michigan will face Florida State for a Sweet 16 matchup on Sunday, March 28.

    —Updated by Théo Salaun.

No. 4 Florida State 71, No. 5 Colorado 53

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    Florida State's Anthony Polite
    Florida State's Anthony PoliteCharles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    And just like that, Florida State's win condition holds true. As we mentioned in the preview, the Seminoles were 16-0 when keeping their opponents under 76 points. And now, that's 17-0.

    As many anticipated, Colorado and Florida State was a neck-and-neck affair for much of the game. Then, with about six minutes left in the contest, the Seminoles finally mounted the game's first double-digit lead. That would prove insurmountable, ending a legitimate bracket run by Colorado and a historic career by senior guard McKinley Wright IV.

    While Colorado's shooting percentages dwindled (35.7 percent from the field, 24.0 percent from three), Florida State got its production from an unlikely source: redshirt junior guard Anthony Polite, who chipped in a career-high, game-leading 22 points. His night proved the difference in a game that was much closer than its final score indicates.


    Top Performers

    The clear top performer in this matchup was Polite, who dropped the aforementioned career-high 22 on 8-of-12 shooting from the field (and 4-of-7 from three). He also filled the box score with five rebounds, four assists and four steals, ensuring a continued bracket run for his squad.


    Next Round

    Florida State will be tested by a top-seeded Michigan on a March 28 full of Sweet 16 action.

    —Updated by Théo Salaun.

No. 2 Alabama 96, No. 10 Maryland 77

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    Alabama's Jaden Shackelford
    Alabama's Jaden ShackelfordMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    With just over nine minutes left in the first half, Alabama took a three-point lead on a triple. That would prove to be an encapsulation of their entire match against Maryland as the Crimson Tide scorched from long range and blazed toward the Sweet 16.

    Shooting an uncomfortably hot 48.5 percent from deep, Alabama knocked in 16 of its 33 triples and couldn't be cooled off. With such a hot touch, it's no surprise that exactly half of the Crimson Tide's shot attempts came from beyond the line.

    Getting two 20-point performances from the starters and three double-digit scorers off the bench, Alabama's depth and shooting extinguished all hopes of a continued Terrapins run through the bracket.


    Top Performers

    Maryland's Aaron Wiggins was red-hot himself, notching 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field (and 5-of-8 from deep), but Alabama got points in bunches from a number of places. 

    Among the starters, guards Jaden Shackelford and John Petty Jr. scored 21 and 20, respectively, on a combined 9-of-17 from three (nearly surpassing Maryland's 10 total made threes). Off the bench, Jahvon Quinerly impressed with 14 points and 11 assists.


    Next Round

    The Crimson Tide will take on a similarly hot UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Sunday, March 28.

    —Updated by Théo Salaun.

No. 6 USC 85, No. 3 Kansas 51

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    USC's Evan and Isaiah Mobley
    USC's Evan and Isaiah MobleyPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    After a 16-point first-round rout of No. 11 Drake, USC looked capable of reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2007. Having blown out No. 3 Kansas by 34 in the second round, they've locked in that spot and look hungry to go even further.

    Taking the lead in the first two minutes, USC proceeded to push the score and suffocate the Jayhawks offense. A 57.1 field-goal percentage helped, as did a 61.1 percent clip from deep, but it was the Trojans defense that really set a tone.

    Holding Kansas to 29.0 percent from the field, USC mounted an untouchable lead and kept the Jayhawks to their lowest-scoring output of the entire year. Some teams knocked on the door to enter the Sweet 16; USC simply barged right in.


    Top Performers

    On a team with five players who scored in double digits, it was the brotherly tandem who stood out. Sophomore Isaiah Mobley dropped 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists while star freshman Evan Mobley filled up the stat sheet with 10 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.


    Next Round

    USC will test Oregon's mettle in the Sweet 16 on Sunday, March 28.

    —Updated by Théo Salaun.

No. 8 Loyola-Chicago 71, No. 1 Illinois 58

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    Illinois' Kofi Cockburn
    Illinois' Kofi CockburnPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    The Loyola of Chicago Ramblers put together a masterclass performance to make the Illinois Fighting Illini the first No. 1 seed to crash out of the NCAA men's tournament.

    Head coach Porter Moser's side utilized a fantastic game plan that took Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn out of their rhythm from the start.

    Cameron Krutwig controlled his paint matchup with Cockburn down low. When he was not scoring baskets, the big man was distributing assists to his cutting guards.

    Loyola rushed out to a 17-9 advantage in the first half and kept that lead for most of the contest. It had a nine-point halftime advantage and withstood every run made by Illinois.

    The Fighting Illini got within six points on a few occasions, but the Ramblers had an answer for every single punch thrown at them.

    Loyola finished off the second-round victory through Krutwig and Lucas Williamson at the free-throw line.

    The Ramblers outclassed the Illini in most stat categories, as they shot 51.0 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from three-point range compared to Illinois' 44.9 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from deep.


    Top Performers

    Krutwig, who was a part of the Loyola team that made it to the Final Four in 2018, had 19 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.

    Williamson chipped in 14 points, and he was one of two other Loyola players to reach double figures.

    Cockburn led Illinois with 21 points and nine rebounds, but he was only one of two Illini players to have more than 10 points.


    Next Round

    Loyola-Chicago will be favored in its Sweet 16 game, meeting the No. 12 Oregon State Beavers.

    —Updated by Joe Tansey.   

No. 1 Baylor 76, No. 9 Wisconsin 63

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    Baylor's Mark Vital
    Baylor's Mark VitalEric Gay/Associated Press

    The Baylor team that played at a high level for most of the men's basketball regular season appeared in the first two rounds of March Madness.

    The Bears asserted their dominance against the Wisconsin Badgers early on and did not let off the gas.

    Wisconsin got off to a 5-0 start, but that was the only time when it looked like it would threaten the top-seeded Bears.

    By the midway point of the opening stanza, head coach Scott Drew's team opened up a nine-point advantage. It surged to 13 at halftime.

    The Badgers used their three-point shooting to try to cut into the advantage in the second half, but they rarely got within six or seven points.

    Baylor's trio of star guards (MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler) played up to its usual high standard, and the group received support off the bench from Matthew Mayer, who added 17 points.

    The Bears have a pair of double-digit wins in the Big Dance. Their performances have been a welcome sight after they struggled down the stretch of the Big 12 season following a coronavirus-related pause.


    Top Performers

    Mayer produced his first double-digit point outing since March 4. He had three games with 10 or more points over his last 10 games. Mayer also added six rebounds, two steals and an assist.

    Butler and Mitchell each put up 16 points, and both hit a pair of shots from beyond the arc.

    D'Mitrik Trice led the Badgers with 12 points. He was one of four Wisconsin players in double figures.


    Next Round

    Baylor will take on the No. 5 Villanova Wildcats in the Sweet 16.

    —Updated by Joe Tansey 

No. 11 Syracuse 75, No. 3 West Virginia 72

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    Syracuse's Buddy Boeheim
    Syracuse's Buddy BoeheimAssociated Press

    After cruising to a first-round win over No. 6 San Diego State, Syracuse looked poised for another easy win when it built a lead of 14 points in the first half against higher-seeded West Virginia.

    Turnovers were an issue for the Mountaineers, who lost the ball 11 times in the first half. But they chipped away to get within six by halftime and even briefly took the lead midway through the second half.

    Then Orange guard Buddy Boeheim dialed in his signature outside shooting, but West Virginia didn't go away.

    With five seconds left on the clock, the Mountaineers narrowed the lead to two points but couldn't make that final bucket to send the game to overtime.

    Shooting 51.9 percent from the field, the Orange completed their second upset and punched their ticket to the Sweet 16.


    Top Performers

    Just 1-of-6 in the first half, Buddy Buckets shot 7-of-11 in the final 20 minutes to lead Syracuse with 25 points, including six three-pointers.

    At the other end of the floor, Sean McNeil hit seven threes to lead West Virginia with 23 points.


    Next Round

    Syracuse will face another tough opponent in the Sweet 16, No. 2 Houston.               

    —Updated by Carol Schram

No. 3 Arkansas 68, No. 6 Texas Tech 66

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    Arkansas' Justin Smith
    Arkansas' Justin SmithMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    For the first time since 1996, Arkansas is through to the Sweet 16.

    The Razorbacks got off to a hot start and then hung on for dear life, emerging from a physical battle against No. 6 Texas Texas with a two-point win. 

    Arkansas took the lead for good with 3:12 left to play in the first half. Neither team scored again until after the break, when the Razorbacks came out of the locker room with a 13-4 run over three-and-a-half minutes. The Red Raiders then chipped away.

    With the clock ticking down and a chance to send the game into overtime, Kyler Edwards' layup attempt failed to drop, sending Texas Tech home from the 2021 tournament.

    Top Performers

    Senior forward Justin Smith was Arkansas' top scorer with 20 points, while Jaylin Williams grabbed 10 boards.

    With 3-of-4 shooting from long range, guard Terrence Shannon Jr. led Texas Tech with 20 of his own.

    Next Round

    Arkansas's Sweet 16 opponent will be Oral Roberts.

    —Updated by Carol Schram

No. 2 Houston 63, No. 10 Rutgers 60

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    Houston's DeJon Jarreau
    Houston's DeJon JarreauMark Humphrey/Associated Press

    A Final Four contender, Houston needed some last-minute heroics to get past Rutgers in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

    An offensive board and a putback by Tramon Mark with 24 seconds left set up a three-point play that gave the Cougars a late lead they wouldn't relinquish, sending them through to the Sweet 16 with a 63-60 win.

    After upsetting Clemson in their first-round matchup on Friday, Rutgers looked poised for a second straight upset, taking a three-point lead into the locker room before growing it to 10 in the second half.

    Despite missing some key free throws down the stretch, Houston's savvy play-calling and clock management was enough to make the difference, allowing the favorites to prevail.

    Top Performers 

    AAC Defensive Player of the Year DeJon Jarreau got back into the lineup after missing almost all of Houston's first-round win over Cleveland State on Friday. He was money during the second-half comeback, finishing with 17 points and five boards. Quentin Grimes hit for 22.

    Rutgers' leading scorer was Geo Baker. He put down 14 points, while Montez Mathis chipped in 10 more from the bench.


    Next Round

    Crisis averted. Houston will take on plucky Syracuse in the Sweet 16.

    —Updated by Carol Schram

No. 15 Oral Roberts 81, No. 7 Florida 78

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    Kevin Obanor of Oral Roberts
    Kevin Obanor of Oral RobertsAJ Mast/Associated Press

    The history-making storybook run continues for Oral Roberts.

    After knocking out No. 2 Ohio State in their first-round matchup, the Golden Eagles took out No. 7 Florida by a score of 81-78 on Sunday.

    As expected, the Gators fed on the Golden Eagles' suspect defense, shooting 55.2 percent from the field. But Florida did not take care of the ball or play with enough discipline to win.

    The Gators committed 20 turnovers and 19 fouls. Oral Roberts took advantage, going 19-of-23 from the line. Florida was just 7-of-9.

    Top Performers

    Once again, Oral Roberts' twin threats of Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas took care of the scoring with 28 and 26 points, respectively. Obanor also picked up 11 rebounds.

    Florida took care of its scoring by committee with four players in double figures. Colin Castleton reached double-double territory with 14 points and 10 boards.

    Next Round

    In the Sweet 16, the Golden Eagles will look to keep making magic. They'll square off against No. 3 Arkansas.

    —Updated by Carol Schram

No. 5 Villanova 84, No. 13 North Texas 61

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    Villanova's Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
    Villanova's Jeremiah Robinson-EarlMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    Four of the first six second-round games on Sunday were nail-biters decided by one possession. 

    After all that excitement, March Madness fans got a chance to breathe as Villanova dominated North Texas to advance to the Sweet 16.

    Despite the absence of injured point guard Collin Gillespie, Villanova took another step forward after dispatching Winthrop in the first round. 

    The Wildcats built a 20-point first-half lead and had no trouble knocking down the shots they chose, hitting at a rate of 55.4 percent from the field.

    Top Performers

    The standout performance of the game belonged to Javion Hamlet of North Texas, who connected for a game-high 25 points. 

    Without Gillespie, Villanova's deep starting lineup shared scoring and ball-distributing responsibilities. Four players hit double digits, and eight different players sank at least one three-pointer.

    Sophomore Jeremiah Robinson-Earl finished as his team's scoring leader with 18 points, six rebounds and six assists.

    Next Round

    It'll be a tougher matchup for the Wildcats in the Sweet 16 when they face No. 1 Baylor.

    —Updated by Carol Schram

No. 12 Oregon State 80, No. 4 Oklahoma State 70

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    Oregon State's Ethan Thompson
    Oregon State's Ethan ThompsonPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    Day 1 of Round 2 action wrapped up with another upset in Indiana as No. 12 Oregon State eliminated Oklahoma State by a 10-point margin.

    From the midpoint of the first half, the Beavers had the edge. They took a 14-point lead into the locker room while dominating in nearly every statistical category, including a 7-2 edge in blocks and a 27-14 rebounding advantage.

    Their weakness was turnovers, which ended up 20-8 by game's end. But Oregon State did a brilliant job frustrating the Cowboys offense, which connected on just 27.7 percent of its shots from the field.

    Oklahoma State played a physical game but saw two players foul out as the Beavers hit 32 of 35 free throws.

    Top Performers 

    After getting into early foul trouble, Ethan Thompson led Oregon State with 26 points and seven boards. Maurice Calloo dazzled off the bench with 15 points in the first half.

    Presumptive first overall draft pick Cade Cunningham led Oklahoma State with 24 points but shot a chilly 6-of-20.

    Next Round

    Oregon State will face Sister Jean and persistent Loyola-Chicago in the Sweet 16.

    —Updated by Carol Schram