NCAA Tournament Round Of 32, Day 1: Just As Planned
No. 1 Syracuse bounces back
After a near historic defeat in their last game, the Orange beat no. 8 Kansas State and dominated the second half, scoring 50 points. Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine contributed 16 points and dropped eight dimes and forward James Sutherland scored 15 and grabbed six boards off the bench in the 75-59 victory.
Last game, ‘Cuse nearly lost to no. 16 seed UNC-Asheville, but was aided by some suspect officiating. The team needed to come out with a strong performance to shake a poor Day One showing. Wisconsin will be another tough test in the Sweet 16.
No. 2 Ohio State comes back, survives late scare to beat no. 7 Gonzaga
The Buckeyes went down early to the Bulldogs but managed to gain a 10-point lead in the second half. Gonzaga later cut the deficit to two but could not get over the hump to claim the upset as they fell 73-66.
Odd stat of this game: the Ohio St. bench scored zero points. But with three starters over 15 points and four over ten points, bench scoring was not necessary; yet, their next game, the Buckeyes must get more scoring from their second unit.
No. 6 Murray State falls in gutty match against no. 3 Marquette
The Golden Eagles outlasted the Racers in a captivating game that went back and forth between the then-one-loss darlings and Marquette. This was the best overall game of the early set, followed closely by Vanderbilt vs. Wisconsin.
Marquette only pulled away at the end when it was forced to take free throws. The best part of this game was that the referees allowed the teams to be physical, each playing to their strong suits. Bodies were banging down low and while some zebras would have surely called fouls, for the most part, the whistles were swallowed.
Marquette was down 46-41 in the second half and put up a 14-2 run to take the final lead of the game.
No. 4 Wisconsin knocks off no. 5 Vanderbilt in a tight game
This game did not feel as exciting throughout the first 35 minutes as Marquette’s win did, but the last five sure made up for it. It was a close game for the most part, but Vanderbilt came back to make the game interesting. There were three pointers aplenty in the closing minutes to drive the scores higher and keep them close.
The game was not decided until the last play, as Wisconsin’s Jared Berggren deflected a full-court inbounds pass with 1.9 seconds left to leave Vanderbilt without a legitimate three-point shot to tie the game.
Vandy was plagued by offensive fouls, seemingly getting a charge every few minutes, hurting their offensive flow.
Scoop Jardine, Syracuse (see above)
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Craft playing every single minute against ‘Zaga was the key to victory. Shooting 7/9 for 17 points, craft also added 10 assists and three steals to his stat line, making him an essential all-around player for the Buckeyes’ Final Four dreams. Great point guards always seem to be critical for late tourney runs, and with Craft’s stellar play, Ohio St. can certainly play deep into March.
Jae Crowder, Marquette
Crowder was a monster for the Golden Eagles, grabbing 13 boards to add to his 17 points. He was a menace on D, with three blocked Racer shots and two steals. He ONLY played 39 minutes, but just like Craft with the Buckeyes, Crowder pushed Marquette over the top.
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
This could have gone to Wisconsin guard Jordan Taylor for his late-game shots, but the rest of his game was generally poor. Ezeli, on the other hand, was a beast in the key. He only took seven shots, but led the Commodores in points with 14 and tied for the team lead in rebounds with 14.