The NCAA Tournament bracket following the Collegian’s simulation of the first day of second round games. Graphic by Joshua Doering.
DREW SANDIFER | ASST. SPORTS EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
Winning a first-round game is all well and fine, but real memories in March are made by getting to the second weekend. The rush of March Madness Thursday and Friday are gone. Now, we have the opportunity to watch these games in their entirety – almost. Coaches are validated or blamed in this stage of the tournament. There is still some form left, but this from this point on, seeds hardly matter. It’s time to play ball.
12:10 p.m.: (14) Eastern Washington vs (11) Indiana, Albany, NY
By the end of the first round of the tournament, Eastern Washington had been passed up multiple times over as the Cinderella of 2020, but they were the first major shocker of this postseason. After sending Big East Player of the Year and First Team All-American Myles Powell out of college basketball in tears, quite literally, they set their eyes on IU. The Hoosier faithful filled the Albany arena in crimson as the Eagles had to get ready to play at 9 a.m. local time. The Eagles seemed to not be bothered, though, as they raced out to an early eight-point lead. However, a balanced attack from Indiana sparked a 31-18 run that gave the now-favored Hoosiers a nine-point lead. IU led 39-32 at the break. After the break, a couple of Jerome Hunter threes pushed the cream and crimson on yet another run, this time 14-4, to push their lead out further. The Eagles did not have enough firepower to answer, as they lose their slipper in the round of 32. Indiana advances to the Sweet 16 in L.A., where they’ll fight to play in their first Elite Eight game in nearly 20 years.
Indiana 77, Eastern Washington 66
IND: Devonte Green 16 pts, 7 rebs
EWU: Jacob Davison 21 pts
2:40 p.m.: (6) Penn State vs (3) Villanova, Albany, NY
A rivalry as old as time itself, the state school in the college town versus the private school in the big city. While these two schools may be nearly a three hours drive away from each other, they fight over students, athletic recruits and, in this case, a chance to go to the Sweet 16 in Madison Square Garden. It was the Nittany Lions and Penn State that jumped out to an early lead by multiple baskets from big man Mike Watkins. However, Jay Wright was named the National Coach of the 2010s; dude can rally the troops. A 30-14 run pulled the Wildcats ahead. Putting up 45 points in the second half, Lamar Stevens and PSU had no answer on the defensive end of the court. The game really was not as close as the 15-point spread indicates. Collin Gillespie and Villanova punch the second ticket to the Sweet 16, their third in five years. They await the winner of West Virginia and Northern Kentucky in New York.
Villanova 82, Penn State 67
NOVA: Collin Gillespie 19 pts, 5 rebs
PSU: Lamar Stevens 17 pts, 5 rebs, 5 asts
5:15 p.m.: (15) Northern Kentucky vs (7) West Virginia, Tampa, FL
While many 15 seeds would be content with a first round upset, the Northern Kentucky Norse wanted to follow the Florida Gulf Coast blueprint and be the second 15-seed to win multiple games in the NCAA Tournament. Bob Huggins and West Virginia stood in their way of that historic distinction. A very close, back-and-forth first half saw WVU hold a slight lead for the majority of the frame. Mountaineers lead 28-23 heading into the locker room. However, the pace would pick up in the second half. A Jermaine Haley tip-in extended the Mountaineer lead to nine, their largest of the game. The Norse had a breakthrough offensively with a 30-13 run that propelled them to an eight-point lead with over five minutes to go in the game. The shot of the game has to go to Tyler Sharpe of NKU, though. An 11-foot jumper in the paint extended the Norse lead to five with just over 30 seconds to go. Stout defense led Darrin Horn’s team to history! The first 15-seed to advance to the Sweet 16 since the historic FGCU team. Horn’s group has their work cut out for them in the next round as they’ll face mighty Villanova in New York next week.
Northern Kentucky 62, West Virginia 59
NKU: Trevon Faulkner 14 pts, 9 rebs
WVU: Oscar Tshiebwe 11 pts, 12 rebs
6:10 p.m.: (12) Yale vs (4) Oregon, Spokane, WA
With both of these teams competing in games that went down to the wire in the round of 64, one could only guess that this matchup would also come down to the game’s waning moments. Trading baskets in the game’s first few minutes, Oregon began to hold a small lead as the game moved towards the halftime break. Oregon’s star and First Team All-American Payton Pritchard would have to step up in the second half, though, as the point guard scored just four points for the Ducks in the first frame.
As we all know in March Madness, it is the secondary players that step up to lead teams to deep runs. That player was Azar Swain for Yale. The guard stepped up late in the game for Yale, scoring seven points in the game’s final ten minutes despite not being the Bulldogs’ leading scorer. Let’s take it down to the final minute, Yale leads 71-65. Anthony Mathis of Oregon drills a three from the wing, cutting it to a one possession game. After the Ducks force a stop, they are able to draw a foul, sending Addison Patterson to the line. He knocked down both, bringing it to a 71-70 lead for the Ivy Leaguers. Oregon fouled Wyatt Yess, but he missed the back end of the one-and-one. 72-70 Yale. On an isolation play at the topic of the key, Payton Pritchard steps back for a long two… GOOD! Tie game with 24 seconds to go! Yale will hold for the last shot. Azar Swain has been on fire, he’ll be the one to take the shot. 3…2…1… Swain fall away jumper from the right wing…. YES! YES! YES! No time remaining! Yale takes down Oregon at the buzzer! The pro-Oregon crowd is stunned as Swain is swarmed at the scorers’ table. Yale shocks the world and is moving on to the Sweet 16! They are third double digit seed to advance, out of just four teams! They’ll face the Gonzaga-Oklahoma winner in Los Angeles next week.
Yale 74, Oregon 72
YALE: Azar Swain 21 pts, 5 rebs
ORE: Payton Pritchard 14 pts, 5 rebs, 5 asts
7:10 p.m.: (15) North Dakota State vs (7) Providence, St. Louis, MO
With the news of Northern Kentucky reaching the Sweet 16, North Dakota State felt a new-found sense of hope and motivation in their game vs Providence to know that they can do it. And do it they did. The Bison and Friars both played well in the first half – PC led NDSU 38-34 – but it was the track meet in the second half that made this one a game to remember. North Dakota State scored 52 points in the second half to overpower Providence to win.
Remember, the Friars had played Arizona State to double overtime just two days before, so the Bison definitely had the rest advantage in this one. When it came down to the nitty gritty in the second half, Providence looked too gassed to stop Vinnie Shahid and NDSU. The Bison scored at will to reach their farthest point in the tournament in program history. They’ll play the Iowa-Duke winner in Indianapolis next week. They make four out of five Sweet 16 teams as double-digit seeds. A historically upset-filled March.
North Dakota State 86, Providence 83
NDSU: Vinnie Shahid 23 pts
PC: AJ Reeves 17 pts, 5 rebs
7:45 p.m.: (5) Ohio State vs (4) Louisville, Tampa, FL
With upsets and Cinderellas running rampant in Saturday’s NCAA Tournament action, this game was a welcome sight to see for two teams that felt under-seeded. As a second-round matchup, this was as about a good of a matchup as we were going to get. Between the Buckeyes and Cardinals, the winner of this game is a serious threat to reach the Final Four and beyond. From the Butler-Xavier matchups of Holtmann and Mack, these coaches played to a familiar tight game in the game’s first 12 minutes. It was at this point, though, that Ohio State went on their run that would allow them to pull ahead for good. The Buckeyes enjoyed a 16-6 run over the last eight minutes of the half to head in the locker room up ten. The two played a back-and-forth second half with the Buckeye lead not getting under six points. The Buckeyes will head into Houston as favorites in their Sweet 16 matchup with the winner of Winthrop and Rutgers. It’s Ohio State’s first trip to the NCAA’s second weekend since 2013.
Ohio State 68, Louisville 56
OSU: Kaleb Wesson 14 pts, 9 rebs
LOU: Malik Williams 13 pts
8:40 p.m.: (9) Oklahoma vs (1) Gonzaga, Spokane, WA
The lone 1-seed to play on Saturday impressed with its offensive display in front of the Spokane faithful. Gonzaga knocked down 13 of its 20 3-pointers to sprint out to the 96-75 victory over the Sooners. In a field where the lowest of seeds are making runs, Gonzaga looks as good of a bet than anyone to make it to Atlanta and cut down the nets. The Sooners’ Austin Reaves enjoyed yet another good performance, but the road ends here for Lon Kruger’s squad. The Bulldogs are reaching their sixth straight Sweet 16 appearance in Los Angeles next weekend where they are set to face off against one of those Cinderellas in Yale. The Zags’ multi-headed offensive attack is what makes them so effective along with the home-court advantage they have enjoyed. That is one of the biggest advantages of being a 1-seed after all: close locations mean more alumni and fans can be loud at their games. It should be a good matchup between the two Bulldogs in L.A. coming up.
Gonzaga 96, Oklahoma 75
GONZ: Corey Kispert 18 pts, 5 rebs
OKLA: Austin Reaves 22 pts, 8 rebs
9:40 p.m.: (7) Illinois vs (2) Creighton, St. Louis, MO
Unlike the game you just read about in Spokane, this game needed all 40 minutes to determine its winner. With both teams being close in proximity to St. Louis, this was arguably the best environment of any game in the tournament thus far. A 9-0 Illini run in the first half brought the orange and blue out of their seats as it was capped off by a thunderous Kofi Cockburn dunk. It certainly was a difference in play styles, with Brad Underwood’s Illinois squad wanting to throw it in deep to its big men, while Greg McDermott’s Bluejays wanting to play on the perimeter and bury the long ball. Let’s get straight to the last two minutes.
Creighton’s Damien Jefferson makes the second of two to knot us up at 68. It was a defensive slugfest in the last two minutes. A Ty-Shon Alexander shot from the free-throw line banked in, giving the lead back to the Bluejays, 70-68. Here come the Illini. A missed Ayo Dosunmu jumper brought Mitch Ballock to the line for a chance to ice the game. He misses the front end! Illinois comes running up the floor with 13 seconds left. Dumps down to Cockburn… blocked by Kelvin Jones! The defensive play of the tournament! By the time Ty-Shon Alexander can get fouled, there’s only 0.4 seconds on the clock. Alexander makes the decision to intentionally miss and that’s the ball game. A thrilling win for Creighton. Despite all of the program’s regular season success, it’s their first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1974! Greg McDermott’s club will meet the Cincinnati-Michigan State winner next weekend in Houston.
Creighton 70, Illinois 68
CREI: Marcus Zegarowski 16 pts, 9 asts
ILL: Ayo Dosunmu 15 pts, 6 rebs, 5 asts
History is made this opening Saturday of the 2020 NCAA Tournament! Two 15-seeds are on to the second weekend. How is this possible? It almost seems like this isn’t real, like a computer ran it. All joking inside, Thursday and Saturday have been the days of upsets, while we saw more chalk on Friday – aside from the 16-seed winning. Tune back in tomorrow to see if Winthrop can make history and the rest of the spots filled into the Sweet 16.