NetScouts Basketball is covering the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament from all the regional sites.
Upset and Game of the Day: Wichita State took down #1-seeded and #1-rated Gonzaga with some timely outside shooting. Some will say the Zags didn’t deserve a #1-seed because of their conference but they just were outplayed tonight.
Performance of the Day: Marquette’s Vander Blue set the tone for the comeback win over Butler. Blue scored 29 points, hit 3-of-4 three’s, made all eight of his free throws and came up with four steals, several of them key late steals.
Best Conference Performance: Let’s give the Big East some props today after dissing them yesterday. Louisville, Syracuse and Marquette all advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
Michigan was not a good match-up for VCU as the Wolverines have the best point guard in the country and a veteran backcourt to combat the Rams Havoc defense. VCU did force Trey Burke in to seven turnovers but only generated twelve in total, not enough to get many points off turnovers to make the game competitive. The Rams also didn’t shoot well enough (3-of-16 on three-pointers) and couldn’t compete on the boards (41-26 advantage for Michigan). The Wolverines have been energized recently with the inclusion 6’10 frosh Mitch McGary into the starting lineup. McGary led Michigan with 21 points and 14 rebounds in the 78-53 Michigan win. Burke added 18 points and seven assists and Glenn Robinson III (9 rebounds) and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 14 points each. VCU couldn’t connect from the outside consistently as top shooter Troy Daniels missed his first six three-pointers, going 1-of-9 from deep in the game. Michigan will play the winner of the Kansas-North Carolina game in the Sweet 16.
Michigan State advanced easily as they outscored Memphis 38-19 in the second half en route to a 70-48 victory. The Spartans out-rebounded Memphis 51-33 and held the Tigers to 30% shooting from the field including 21.7% on three-pointers. Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix combined for 27 points and 18 rebounds against the smaller Tigers while Gary Harris hit four first half three-pointers on the way to a game high 23 points. Michigan State’s point guard Keith Appling sprained a shoulder and left the game midway through the second half. The Spartans will need Appling in a potential Sweet Sixteen match-up against Duke. Auburn Hills was convenient to Michigan State and Michigan as they both advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the same year for the first time.
Louisville destroyed a veteran Colorado State squad, forcing them into 19 turnovers in the 82-56 win. Colorado State was the only team in the tournament to start five seniors but even experience was no antidote for Louisville’s pressure defense. Russ Smith was on his game throughout scoring 27 points, making 4-of-7 three-pointers and hounding the Rams on defense. The Cardinals shot 56.4% from the floor and had 11 steals against zero steals for Colorado State. The Rams leading scorer Dorian Green, coming off a 26-point effort, was held to six points. He made his first two attempts, then missed his final ten. Louisville advances to face the winner of the Oregon-Saint Louis game in the Sweet Sixteen. Colorado State becomes he fourth Mountain West Conference tea to go home with San Diego State their only survivor.
Harvard needed to hit their shots to have any chance against the much taller Arizona Wildcats. That didn’t happen as the Crimson missed their first 13 shots of the game, Arizona pulled out to a 30-9 lead and the game was essentially over. Arizona wound up cruising to a 74-51 win. Harvard was held to 27.6% shooting for the game while the Wildcats connected on 55.1% including 9-of-15 on three-pointers. Mark Lyons dominated the scoring column with 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting including three three-pointers.
We won’t once more get into the Selection Committee not having a clue and giving Oregon only a #12 seed again. However that seeding may have been a blessing in disguise as it gave the Ducks a very winnable second game against #4-seed Saint Louis. If they were seeded properly at #7 or #8 the would have faced a much more difficult #1 or #2 seed in the second round. As it was, there was no doubt which was the much better team as Oregon thoroughly dominated Saint Louis 74-57. Oregon coach Dana Altman employed a zone defense that totally baffled the Billikens. Saint Louis shot 0-of-10 on three-pointers and looked very disjointed on offense in the first half as Oregon took a 35-19 lead. The second half was more of the same as Oregon freshman Damyean Dotson impressed everyone, finishing with 23 points on 5-of-6 three-pointers. Arsalan Kazemi continued to grab every rebound. He had 16 today, giving him 33 over the two tournament games. The Ducks out-rebounded the Billikens 40-32 while Saint Louis finished the game 3-of-21 from long distance. Oregon moves on to face top-seed Louisville on Friday night.
Marquette came back from an eight-point halftime deficit to top Butler 74-72 in a thriller. The Golden Eagles turned up their pressure defense and forced the pace of the game in their favor. They also started to drive to the hoop rather than settling for jump shots. Marquette has the highest disparity in the tournament between their two point field goal percentage and their three point percentage so their shot selection turned in their advantage. The Golden Eagles concentrated on stopping Rotnei Clarke in the second half after he poured in 18 first half points. After Marquette’s Vander Blue tied the game with a lay-up with 7:33 left the game went back and forth to the end. Blue tied the game again with a three-pointer with 1:23 remaining. Jamil Wilson made two free throws to put Marquette up by two. Butler had some chances at the end of the game. Clarke threw up an off balance three-pointer that would have given Butler the lead with 5 seconds left but it wasn’t close. Then after a Marquette turnover Andrew Smith missed an off balance shot from the top of the key that would have tied it. Blue led all scorers with 29 points. Clarke finished with 24 for the Bulldogs.
The #9-seeded Wichita State Shockers eliminated the first #1-seed from the tournament, defeating Gonzaga 76-70 with some timely long-distance shooting. Gonzaga battled backed from a 13-point first half deficit and appeared to take control of the game, leading by seven with 5:32 remaining. But the Shockers hit four three-pointers in a row, the back-breaker by Frosh Fred Van Vleet with 1:23 left that put Wichita State up by five. In all, the Shockers hit 14-of-28 three-pointers including their final six attempts. Gonzaga was hurt by Gary Bell Jr.’s departure with an injured ankle early in the second half. Kelly Olynyk led the Zags with 26 points. Gonzaga pulled down 20 offensive boards compared to nine for the Shockers, but the difference in the game was shooting accuracy. Including their three-pointers, the Shockers shot an even 50% for the game while Gonzaga connected at a 35.6% pace, including 8-of-23 three’s. Wichita State advances to face the winner of the #12 seed Ole Miss/#13 seed La Salle game tomorrow.
Syracuse helped add some luster back to the Big East as they defeated Cal 66-60. The game was never really in doubt with Cal not getting closer than six points in the second half and the Orange generally maintaining an 8-10 point lead much of he way. C. J. Fair led the Orange with 18 points, 14 of them in the first half. Richard Solomon had a career day for the Bears with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Cal shot only 4-of-21 on three’s and Pac-12 Player of the Year Allen Crabbe was limited to eight points by the Orange’s tenacious defense.