The first one-seed goes down, a double-digit seed is in the Sweet 16, and the state of Michigan has a phenomenal day at the Palace.
In the first game of the day, the Michigan Wolverines dominate VCU 78-53. Mitch McGary was way too much for VCU's front-line to handle as he scored 21 points on 10-11 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds. Trey Burke put up 18 points and added 7 assists; however, committed 7 turnovers. That number will be something to watch going forward as they will not be able to win many games with him being that careless with the ball. Got the score way off, but I started my day 1-0 on predictions.
In the next game, also in Auburn Hills, Michigan, the Michigan State Spartans handled Memphis 70-48. At halftime, Michigan State only led 32-29, but a huge second half from Adreian Payne, who finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks, as well as a big game from Freshman point guard Gary Harris, who finished with a career high 23 points despite finding himself in foul trouble for much of the second half. The Tigers could not overcome 29.7% shooting from the field and a putrid 5-23 shooting from 3-point land against the more physical Spartans. Wrong score again, but 2-0 on the day thus far.
From Lexington, Kentucky, top-seeded Louisville rolled Colorado State 82-56. Russ Smith had 27, and four guys notched double figures. For Colorado State, despite shooting a very good 47.5% from the field, they were plagued by 19 turnovers and only 4 assists for the entire team. Dorian Green, who exploded for 26 against Missouri in their opening game, was held to 2-13 shooting and only 6 points against the Cardinals. I improve to 3-0 on the day with this one.
Trying to extend their Cinderella run, Harvard took on Arizona in their third round game. Arizona made sure the slipped didn't fit in this one, opening the game on a 17-2 run and holding the Crimson without a field goal until almost 8-minutes into the game. Arizona steamrolled the Crimson 74-51 behind 27 from Mark Lyons and a double-double from Solomon Hill. 4-0 on the day to date, maybe my predictions were prescient at this point.
From the "Shark Tank" out in San Jose, California, the Oregon Ducks beat-down on the Saint Louis Billikens 74-57. At the half, the Ducks led 35-19 as they were able to establish the tempo and hit shots. The Billikens are a half-court team who had yet to face a team with the speed of Oregon and the Ducks exposed that weakness. Damyean Dotson seemingly could not miss tonight, scoring 23 points on 8-12 shooting including 5-6 from three. Arsalan Kazemi grabbed 16 rebounds, 7 of which were on the offensive end, and added 8 points, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Through their first two games, the Ducks have certainly proved that they deserved a higher seed; however, 12-seed or not, they find themselves in the Sweet 16. 5-0 on the day thus far as this was my first upset pick of the day.
In the first non-blowout of the day, Marquette battled their way past Butler 74-72. Vander Blue was once again key as he scored 29 on 9-15 shooting and 8-8 from the charity stripe. Butler led by 8 at the half, but Rotnei Clarke cooled off in the second half and missed a potential game-winning 3 with 5.5 seconds left. This game was an absolute dogfight and Marquette has shown their poise under pressure throughout the season, and these past two games have demonstrated their inability to be rattled. They will be a tough out in the Sweet 16. My prediction from last night was wrong about this one, but I had Marquette advancing on my bracket (which is doing quite well if you were wondering. You can check it out here). 5-1 on the day is not too bad.
The next game had no Ali Farokhmanesh (see below), but it was still a giant upset. 32-2 heading into the game, the top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs lose to Wichita State 76-70. The Shockers were up 5 at the half, and every time Gonzaga came clawing back, the Shockers had an answer. To take down a giant, you need to shoot the ball well from three, and boy did the Shockers do that. The team shot 50% from the field (25-50), and also 50% from three (14-28). 26 points out of Kelly Olynyk wasn't enough as Mark Few once again can't make it to the second weekend. 5-2 at this point, yet my bracket was not busted. Between Wichita State, Ole Miss, and La Salle, someone is going to the Elite Eight. I guess that's why they call it March Madness.
In the last game of the night, Syracuse, despite not playing particularly well, defeats Cal 66-60. Four guys registered double-figured, led by C.J. Fair with 18, and the team shot 41 free-throws to take this game. In my prediction, I said that Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe would need to step up for Cal to win this game. The two of them shot a combined 5-18 from the field with 13 points and 9 turnovers. That right there is a recipe for disaster when trying to break down Syracuse's zone. 6-2 on the day with a pair of major upsets occurring, I'll take that.
Stay tuned for a schedule of tomorrow's games to go along with some light analysis and a fresh set of predictions.