NCAA tourney hits halfway point, still the field vs. Gonzaga. The Elite Eight marks the midway level of the NCAA Event, however do not blink. It has the shelf lifetime of rooster nuggets.
By the point your head hits the pillow tomorrow night time, we’ll be right down to a Last 4 and discover out whether or not the choice committee is any higher at seeding groups than the cooks at your native McDonalds.
Three of the 4 groups handed No. 1s — Gonzaga, Baylor and Michigan — are nonetheless within the subject, which is common. However so are three Pac-12 Convention groups — No. 6 USC, No. 11 UCLA and No. 12 Oregon State — which positively will not be. For sure, the highway would have been lots smoother for the Pac-12 entries if their league bought anyplace close to the respect the Massive Ten and Massive 12 carried contained in the room the place it (seeding) occurs.
USC and UCLA had been the final two groups to assert their seats Sunday. The Trojans handily beat fellow Pac-12 member and seventh-seeded Oregon, whereas the Bruins wanted time beyond regulation — after a last-second hiccup — to place absent No. 2 Alabama 88-78.
Field vs. Gonzaga
“I am going to by no means stay that one down,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin stated afterward. “The children bailed me out.”
Within the two different video games, Gonzaga appeared unbeatable another time whereas steamrolling No. 5 Creighton 83-65, whereas Michigan had surprisingly little hassle shaking No. 4 Florida State 76-58, as soon as once more displaying the sort of stability and depth to upend the Zags’ (29-0) quest for a title and the primary excellent season because the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers.
“They simply play so quick, so environment friendly with every little thing they do,” stated Marcus Zegarowski, who led Creighton with 19 factors. “There are not any lapses. You simply cannot take, not even a play, you’ll be able to‘t take a second off or they are going to make you pay.”
UCLA primarily took the final 4 seconds off, and the Tide made them pay. Main by three with Alabama in-bounding the ball, Cronin selected to not have his gamers commit a fast foul and quit two free throws. Two passes later, Alex Reese canned a protracted 3-pointer — the event‘s first buzzer-beater — and you might have fried an egg on the highest of Cronin’s pate.
Happily, his gamers noticed it in any other case. That nonchalance has paid dividends for these Bruins, who needed to beat Michigan State within the First 4 simply to get into the big-boy bracket. UCLA is the primary play-in crew to get this far since VCU in 2011, the yr the brackets had been expanded to 68 groups.
“We knew we had nothing to fret approximately,” UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. stated. “That is March. It occurs on a regular basis.”
The Bruins opened the additional interval with a 3-pointer by David Singleton, then a steal and layup by Tyger Campbell and by no means appeared ebook.
Talking of hindsight, regardless of how the Pac-12 trio fares from right here on out, the choice committee nonetheless has some explaining to do. 9 Massive Ten groups started the event — together with 4 groups among the many high eight total seeds — and solely Michigan is left. The Massive 12 bought seven entries and all however Baylor are dwelling now watching on TV.
Monday’s games pit Baylor towards No. 3 Arkansas, which banished this yr‘s actual Cinderella, Fifteenth–seeded Oral Roberts, within the Candy 16. Within the day’s different sport, Oregon State faces No. 2 Houston.
For all that, the actual query hanging over the event because it started is whether or not the Bulldogs will be beat. Their three event victories have come by 43, 16 and 18 factors. They boast three finalists for the nationwide participant of the yr award in Corey Kispert, Drew Timme and freshman Jalen Suggs, and a fourth participant, Joel Ayayi, who can be a star nearly anyplace else.
However their finest participant towards Creighton may even have been level guard Andrew Nembhard, a switch from Florida who scored 17 factors, collected eight assists and reminded some of us why he was the primary freshman for the Gators to start out each sport since Bradley Beal.
The truth is, Gonzaga coach Mark Few’s hardest job won’t be getting ready his crew for USC come Tuesday. As an alternative, it could possibly be managing expectations. That is his fourth journey to the Elite Eight within the final six years — all of which ended earlier than their expiration date.
“I am simply telling you: We’re not hung up on the undefeated factor in any respect,” Few stated. “We have to go undefeated from right here on out. We have to go 3-0 if we wish to win the championship, which that is been our purpose all alongside. However no person‘s speaking approximately the general undefeated factor in any respect.”