The best and worst of everything from March Madness Day 4

Posted by    |    March 19th, 2017 at 11:14 pm

Four games decided in the final seconds, North Carolina pushed to the brink, and Duke going down in stunning fashion. Let’s recap anything and everything that went down on day four of the NCAA tournament.

Everyone had the first two games of the day circled heading into Sunday, and neither one disappointed. Both Michigan-Louisville and Wichita State-Kentucky gave us two hours of excitement that lasted right until the final horn. Ultimately, one No. 2 seed from the Bluegrass State danced into the Sweet 16, while the other went home.

The real surprise was the drama that came later in the day. North Carolina being pushed to the brink, Oregon and Baylor winning thrillers, and then Duke getting stunned by South Carolina were the things that took Sunday from good to great.

The first weekend of the NCAA tournament is now a thing of the past, but instead of being sad, let’s choose to remember the good times. That process begins with a complete recap of everything that took place on Sunday.

THE THREE BEST GAMES OF DAY FOUR

1. (7) Michigan Wolverines 73, (2) Louisville Cardinals 69 (Midwest)

After watching Michigan set a new school record for three-pointers on Friday, Rick Pitino wasn’t going to let that be the way the Wolverines sent his team packing. Louisville forced Michigan’s best outside shooters off the line throughout Sunday’s tremendous second round game, resulting in John Beilein having to create new ways for his team to score. The great chess match continued in the second half with Beilein changing his team’s spacing in order to give big man Moritz Wagner more room to operate. Wagner responded with the best half of his collegiate career, and the Wolverines turned an eight-point halftime deficit into a four-point victory.

2. (2) Kentucky Wildcats 65, (10) Wichita State Shockers 62 (South)

It shouldn’t have taken place this early (more on that later), but for the second time in four years, Kentucky and Wichita State gave us a second round game that will be remembered as one of the tournament’s top tilts. The game wasn’t a thing of beauty for long stretches, especially in the first half. In the end, though, the two teams delivered on the promise of drama. They traded haymakers in the game’s closing minutes, with a blocked shot at the buzzer proving to be Kentucky’s knockout blow.

3. (3) Oregon 75, (11) Rhode Island 72 (Midwest)

Oregon had to have heard the chatter. With Chris Boucher out, one of the trendiest upset picks in the days leading up to the NCAA tournament was taking 11th-seeded Rhode Island to win a pair of games and play their way to Kansas City. Instead, Tyler Dorsey hit two three-pointers in the game’s most crucial moments, and Oregon is moving on to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year and the third time in the last five.

THE THREE TEAMS THAT WON IT BEST

1. Kansas

No team has ever lost its first conference tournament game and gone on to win the national championship. On Sunday, Kansas looked like a team capable of destroying that factoid once and for all. The Jayhawks blasted a Michigan State team that had just wrapped up its own demolition of Miami two days prior. Josh Jackson, Frank Mason, and Devonte’ Graham all scored 18 points or more, which is a recipe that would likely result in a victory over every team remaining in the tournament.

2. South Carolina

Understandably, all the talk after South Carolina’s Sunday night stunner is going to circle around Duke and what went wrong with the Blue Devils. That won’t change the fact that the Gamecocks are headed to their first Sweet 16 because they were the superior team for 40 minutes against Duke. When they’re playing like this, Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier are about as good a guard tandem as there is remaining in this tournament. If they keep it up, then South Carolina could have more games to win.

3. Michigan

Louisville took away what the Wolverines do best, and John Beilein’s team was able to switch things up and find another way to win. Even with the little No. 7 next to its name, no one should be shocked if this Michigan team winds up winning two more games next week and earns itself a trip to Phoenix.

THE THREE TEAMS THAT WERE THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS

1. Duke

This is sort of a lifetime achievement award for a Duke team that will be remembered for having one of the most bizarre seasons we’re ever going to see a college basketball team had. It started with talk of being a “super team,” but that took an irreparable hit when three of the Blue Devils’ star freshmen were sidelined by iinjuries at the start of the season. Then there was the leave of absence from Coach K, a handful of unexpected early season losses, and distraction after distraction from Grayson Allen. Then, Duke got everyone healthy, Allen went more than a couple hours without doing something to garner a national headline, and the team won the ACC tournament and became a betting favorite for the Big Dance. A week later, their season is over after a loss to South Carolina that nobody saw coming.

I would watch as many documentaries on this team as professionals would be willing to make.

2. Michigan State

On a day where no other team lost by more than 12 and only one other team was defeated by double-digits, the Spartans were beaten by 20.

3. Louisville

The Cardinals didn’t play particularly poorly, and they were beaten by the hottest team in the country. But when you’re a No. 2 seed that goes down in round two, you run the risk of finding yourself here.

THE ALL-DAY FOUR TEAM

Moritz Wagner, Michigan

With Louisville taking away the ability of Michigan’s guards to light it up from the outside, it was on Moe Wagner to take advantage of the extra space that would be given to him. He did so in the form of 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting.

Josh Jackson, Kansas

The freshman’s absence was sorely missed in the team’s Big 12 tournament loss to TCU, and his value was on full display once again on Sunday. Jackson scored 23 points, including some ridiculous finishes at the rim, to carry KU past Michigan State.

Tyler Dorsey, Oregon

The sophomore guard hit 9-of-10 shots, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc on his way to a game-high 27 points. Dorsey’s performance was the biggest reason the Ducks were able to pull out a 75-72 win over Rhode Island.

Manu Lecomte, Baylor

His stat line might not like it belongs here, but Lecomte went on a personal 8-0 run late in the second half that ultimately proved to be the difference in Baylor’s 82-78 win over USC. He finished with 12 points, five assists and no turnovers.

Lonzo Ball, UCLA

There’s not a more entertaining player in college basketball to watch than Lonzo Ball. The freshman superstar scored 18 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed seven rebounds in UCLA’s 79-67 win over Cincinnati.

FIVE DAY FOUR JEERS

1. Kentucky and Wichita State having to square off in round two

Look, it was great for all of us to have a second round game featuring two teams that had no business meeting before the tournament’s second week. It was in 2014 too. In both those years, however, it was remarkably unfair to the actual teams involved. Especially the loser of both contests, Wichita State.

Here’s hoping that moving forward, the introduction of more modern metrics into the Selection Committee’s process will lead to a more fair and accurate seeding of teams in Wichita’s position. That should start next season.

2. The missed dunk trend continuing for a fourth straight day

The latest players concerned about the status and durability of the rims at the NCAA tournament are …

Anas Mahmoud from Louisville:


And Kansas’s Josh Jackson:


This remains a troubling and most hilarious trend of the 2017 NCAA tournament.

3. North Carolina’s performance against Arkansas

The Tar Heels didn’t lose, so they avoid the “most disappointing team of the day” distinction. That doesn’t mean they should be free of at least some criticism.

Despite being a team that a large chunk of the population picked to cut down the nets at the beginning of this week, North Carolina seemed like it was going through the motions for long stretches of time against Arkansas. The Razorbacks took full advantage, and led 65-60 with under three minutes to go. UNC would score the game’s final 12 points, but it also got some massive (and questionable) breaks along the way. It’s going to take a much more complete effort from Roy Williams’s team to win a pair of games next weekend.

4. Duke schadenfreude

This isn’t a jeer because you shouldn’t be doing it, it’s just more of a “hey Duke lost, let’s jeer them because we don’t like them.”

Whatever, just enjoy the best of Duke losing and being sad.


oh no what have I done pic.twitter.com/BM8MsLOt3N

— RT Ohio (@RT_Ohio) March 20, 2017




5. No more NCAA tournament basketball for the next three days

None. Zilch. Nada. Not even a First Four game just to take the edge off.

I’m not ready to re-introduce myself to society just yet, and you’re probably not either.

FIVE DAY FOUR CHEERS

1. John Beilein’s super-soaker celebration

Seriously, how great is this?


It’s not hard to see why Beilein’s players seem to enjoy playing for him so much.

2. The extension of Michigan’s unbelievable March story

On March 8, the Michigan basketball team’s plane slid off the runway as the Wolverines were attempting to travel to the Big Ten tournament. The incident was so terrifying that John Beilein gave his team the option of forfeiting instead of having to get on another plane. The team declined, traveled to Washington D.C., and became the first No. 8 to ever win the Big Ten tournament.

Fast forward a week and the Wolverines are still the hottest team in the country after pulling out back-to-back nail-biters against the No. 10-seeded Oklahoma State Cowboys and second-seeded Louisville. The second victory had to be especially sweet for Beilein, whose two toughest losses of his career — an Elite 8 overtime defeat in 2005 and a narrow defeat in the 2013 national championship game — had both come with Rick Pitino on the other bench.

It’s also worth noting that former player and current undergraduate assistant Austin Hatch is still a member of the basketball program. Before he graduated high school, Hatch was involved in two separate plane crashes in which members of his immediate family were killed. He had been committed to Michigan before the second crash, and Beilein honored his scholarship even after it was apparent that he would likely never be the player he was before. Hatch was not on the plane that slid off the runway on March 8.

We haven’t seen a March story like Michigan’s in a long time, and now it’s continuing.

3. Kentucky’s end of game defense against Wichita State

While Sunday’s Kentucky-Wichita State game wasn’t quite the epic showdown we saw in 2014, the back-and-forth blows the two teams gave in the final minutes was eerily reminiscent of what we saw three years ago. The biggest difference in 2017 was that when the clock was running out and the Shockers needed a make to extend the game, they couldn’t even get an attempt to the rim.

First it was Kentucky’s Malik Monk who kept Wichita State’s Markis McDuffie from getting off a shot that could have put the Shockers ahead by one.


After a pair of made free throws by Monk, the Shockers’ Landry Shamet was also denied on his final attempt to try and send the game to overtime.


For a team that struggled with defense at times during the early part of the season, that’s a heck of a way to end a game.

4. Baylor’s Sweet 16 celebration

The last time Baylor locked down a trip to the tournament’s second weekend, they celebrated by messing up the hair of sideline reporter Craig Sager. To honor both Sager and that tradition, they gave Dana Jacobsen the same postgame treatment on Sunday.


5. The Rhode Island bench

The Rams lost, but they also won.

Rhode Island would like some salsa with its chips. pic.twitter.com/5dKyKmNMXV

— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 20, 2017


The bench player in question here is Will Leviton, a former manager turned walk-on who has a pretty terrific backstory.

THE BEST DAY FOUR DUNK

Deng Adel, Louisville

Adel didn’t quite have the type of breakout sophomore season that many were predicting back in October. But he did end the campaign with a highlight that gave renewed enthusiasm to the thought of who he can be as a junior.


THE BEST DAY FOUR PICTURE

When you’re the best player in the country, but you can sit back and watch because your work for the possession is done.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Kansas vs Michigan State
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

THE BEST DAY FOUR QUOTE

“How many years do we have to do this to make people respect our program? I don’t know. I know that we have the heart of a champion.”

—Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall

FULL SWEET 16 SCHEDULE

We will reconvene on Thursday

All times ET

Thursday

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 7 Michigan, 7:09 p.m.

Midwest region | Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.

TV: CBS | Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Dana Jacobson

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 4 West Virginia, 7:39 p.m.

West region | SAP Center, San Jose, Calif.

TV: TBS | Announcers: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber, Lewis Johnson

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Purdue, 9:39 p.m.*

Midwest region | Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.

TV: CBS | Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Dana Jacobson

No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 11 Xavier, 10:09 p.m.*

West region | SAP Center, San Jose, Calif.

TV: TBS | Announcers: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber, Lewis Johnson

Friday

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 4 Butler, 7:09 p.m.

South region | FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tenn.

TV: CBS | Announcers: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson

No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 7 South Carolina, 7:29 p.m.

East region | Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y..

TV: TBS | Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 UCLA, 9:39 p.m.*

South region | FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tenn.

TV: CBS | Announcers: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson

No. 4 Florida vs. No. 8 Wisconsin, 9:59 p.m.*

East region | Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

TV: TBS | Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce

*game time is approximate