NCAA Men's Tournament 2022: Saturday's Round 2 Winners and Losers

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2022

NCAA Men's Tournament 2022: Saturday's Round 2 Winners and Losers

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    No matter if you had a rooting interest, the opening day of the 2022 men's NCAA tournament's second round probably spiked your blood pressure.

    And the drama started immediately.

    North Carolina endured an epic collapse but managed to topple the top-seeded Baylor Bears anyway. No. 1 Kansas survived a comeback effort to hold off Creighton, and Michigan used a late surge to spring the upset on third-seeded Tennessee.

    Not until the fourth contest of Saturday did a winner provide a chaos-free finish, which Providence and UCLA both did.

    B/R is reviewing the action along the way, separating the major storylines into winners and losers. This piece will be updated as Saturday's games conclude.

Winner: North Carolina, Despite Itself

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    If you turned on the game midway through the second half, you'd be forgiven for returning to that Saturday to-do list. North Carolina had built a 67-42 lead with a shade under 11 minutes left.

    Then, the debacle began.

    After key scorer Brady Manek was ejected for elbowing Jeremy Sochan, North Carolina had no answers for Baylor's pressure. Adam Flagler keyed the comeback for Baylor, which evened the score at 80 when James Akinjo hit a free throw with 15.8 seconds remaining in regulation. Baylor turned UNC's 13 second-half turnovers into 16 points and forced overtime.

    Fortunately for the Tar Heels, they narrowly avoided what would've been a legendary loss.

    R.J. Davis, who paced North Carolina with 30 points, hit a critical layup and free throw during the last 90 seconds of overtime. The eighth-seeded Heels ultimately won 93-86.

    Disaster avoided. And they're headed to the Sweet 16.

Loser: Creighton's Clutch-Time Crash

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    While it wasn't a 25-point comeback, Creighton put together an excellent second-half surge of its own. Kansas led 66-57 with 8:27 to play, but the Bluejays slowly trimmed the gap.

    As the clock dripped below two minutes remaining, KeyShawn Feazell's layup brought Creighton within a point. On the ensuing possession, Kansas forward David McCormack missed. Creighton, a double-digit underdog, earned its potential go-ahead moment.

    But the Bluejays unraveled.

    Feazell snapped a pass to Alex O'Connell on the three-point line, but it was slightly off-line and O'Connell couldn't corral it. Kansas star Ochai Agbaji trotted to an uncontested dunk on the other end, pushing Kansas' lead to three points.

    Following a timeout, Creighton still had a chance to tie. McCormack, however, blocked Trey Alexander's shot, and Remy Martin hit two game-sealing free throws.

    Even without star guard Ryan Nembhard and shot-blocker Ryan Kalkbrenner, the Jays pushed Kansas to the edge. Still, these two missed opportunities in the 79-72 loss will haunt them.

Winner: Michigan's Sweet 16 Streak

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Early in February, it seemed the Wolverines wouldn't be a part of March Madness. Late-season victories over Purdue, Iowa, Rutgers, Michigan State and Ohio State helped put them in the field, though.

    And now, Michigan has advanced to the second weekend for the fifth straight NCAA tournament.

    Fittingly, given what happened in the two earlier games, the Wolverines made a mini-comeback on No. 3 Tennessee. They trailed 60-54 with eight minutes to play but closed the matchup on a 22-8 run.

    Hunter Dickinson powered the Maize and Blue with 27 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Eli Brooks added 23 points and five assists, hitting a clutch skyhook in the last minute of regulation. Tennessee also missed 16 of their 18 three-point attempts for an uncharacteristically bad shooting day in the 76-68 Michigan win.

    But the Wolverines will take it. The streak lives, and they'll face either Villanova or rival Ohio State in the Sweet 16.

Loser: Providence's Doubters, Again

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    Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

    Throughout the regular season, Providence consistently won close games. Although the Friars led much of the opening-round clash with South Dakota State, they escaped another tight finish. It seemed only a matter of time until Providence would not survive.

    And, hey, fresh off an upset of Iowa, Richmondβ€”a program with a record nine NCAA tournament victories as a No. 12 seed or worseβ€”could be the team to eliminate the Big East champions.

    Ha! Nope.

    Providence trailed for exactly zero seconds, racing out to a 7-0 edge and entering the break leading 41-24. Five players hit double figures for the Friars, who buried 12-of-22 threes while surrendering a single triple on Richmond's 22 attempts.

    I have been among the Friars' doubters. Perhaps you are too. Providence keeps winning, though, and a Sweet 16 showdown with top-seeded Kansas is a massive chance to silence the critics.

Winner: UCLA's Mid-Range Game

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    Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    Entering the game, St. Mary's ranked 355th our of 358 teams in opponent three-point attempt rate. In other words, only three defenses in the country allowed a lesser rate of long-range shots.

    That strength presented a double-edged sword for UCLA.

    According to, the Bruins take two-point jumpers at the 15th-highest rate nationally and ranked 21st in field-goal percentage on those attempts. Meanwhile, they were 308th in three-point attempt rate. UCLA's preferred style could work, but those mid-range shots absolutely must fall.

    And they did.

    UCLA finished 4-of-9 from the perimeter, but Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez and Tyger Campbell combined for a 16-of-28 clip inside the arc. They accounted for 45 points in UCLA's 72-56 triumph.

    If UNC's triples are falling in the Sweet 16, UCLA will need to expand its range. But on this night, it was a perfect foil.

Loser: Offense in Arkansas' Win

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    In the aftermath of their respective first-round wins, we started picturing a showdown between Arkansas star JD Notae and New Mexico State standout Teddy Allen.

    Well, it stayed in our imagination.

    According to DraftKings, the game total (over/under) was 138.5. The teams combined for just 101 points, only cracking triple digits when Chris Lykes hit a game-sealing free throw in the closing moments.

    Arkansas shot a season-worst 27.5 percent, skating past the 12th-seeded Aggies on the strength of 22 free throws in 25 tries and limiting NMSU to a 34.0 percent clip. Most notably, the Razorbacks held "Teddy Buckets" to a 5-of-16 night.

    It's safe to say Arkansas' scoring attack needs a bounce-back showing in the Sweet 16.

Winner: Saint Peter's Joins an Exclusive Club

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Cinderella's glass slipper isn’t broken yet.

    After upending No. 2 Kentucky in the first round, Saint Peter's defeated 31-win Murray State 70-60. Fourth-year guard KC Ndefo propelled the No. 15 seed to the victory, racking up 17 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks and three assists.

    Shortly before the break, the Peacocks held a slim 29-27 advantage. However, they ripped off an 11-0 run over the next five minutes and built a large enough lead to withstand a resilient Murray State during a tense, entertaining second half.

    Although the Racers pulled within one possession four times, Saint Peter's always scored the next points.

    Saint Peter's is now only the third No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16, joining 2013 Florida-Gulf Coast and 2021 Oral Roberts.

Loser: Memphis Squanders Prime Upset Chance

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    Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    Memphis just dominated the first 20 minutes.

    One of the most turnover-prone teams in the nation, the Tigers ceded possession just three times. They scrapped for loose balls, outrebounded Gonzaga by seven and assembled a 10-point lead behind Tyler Harris' strong opening half.

    All around the college basketball world, the upset alarm sounded. But the top-seeded Zags found a way.

    More precisely, they found Drew Timme. The two-time All-American notched 21 of his game-high 25 points in the second half, adding 14 rebounds and four assists to spark Gonzaga's 82-78 comeback win.

    Memphis battled through an up-and-down regular season, and knocking off the Zags could've tweaked the story of the campaign. Instead, the final game virtually exemplified the year.