Showing posts from March, 2019

Purdue's Carsen Edwards racks up points as NCAA tourney rolls on

The first half of the Sweet 16 games in the NCAA tournament were played on Thursday, with four teams moving on to the Elite Eight. Stars on a basketball team hit the big shots, grab the huge rebound, and generally find ways to make big plays when the stage is an expansive one. It doesn't get much grander in college basketball than the NCAA tournament.
There was plenty of big moments in the South region semifinal between the Tennessee Volunteers and Purdue Boilermakers on Thursday night.
Purdue went up by 18 in the second half, only to watch as Tennessee stormed back to take the lead. Back and forth down the stretch, the teams needed overtime to settle things, with the third-seed Boilermakers prevailing 99-94.
Shining on this day was a duo for Purdue that go by the names of Ryan Cline and Carsen Edwards. Cline hit big shot after big shot, finishing with 27 points before fouling out in overtime. Cline connected on 7 three-pointers in the victory.
And Edwards has been a scoring mach…

Bracket (not) busted: Top seeds sail into Sweet 16

The second weekend of the 2019 NCAA tournament graces us with four games on Thursday, including two no. 1 seeds in action. Brackets haven't exactly been busted in this year's men's NCAA tournament. Unless you went out on a limb and picked a handful of lower seeds to advance to the Sweet 16, you're bracket might be in pretty decent shape. 🚨 PERFECT BRACKET UPDATE 🚨

Here is the last one standing. Can it go all the way? — NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 25, 2019 The top three seeds in each of the four regions advanced to the Sweet 16, with two no. 4 seeds advancing as well. It appears the selection committee can nail things down once every blue moon, at least as far as the top quarter of the bracket is concerned.
The outliers in this year's group? The fifth-seed in the Midwest region -- and SEC tournament champions -- Auburn Tigers and the 12th-seed in the South, Oregon Ducks.
A lot of chalk going on but not a lack o…

NCAA tournament: Games to watch on final day of first weekend

Rare is it to see in the round of 32 in the men's NCAA tournament so many blowouts. Especially when they involve the likes of a blue blood program in the Kansas Jayhawks and defending national champion Villanova Wildcats.
That's exactly what happened on Saturday when both exited the 2019 tournament. Kansas was sent packing courtesy of the Auburn Tigers, 89-75. And Villanova met their maker in the form of a steam engine, the Purdue Boilermakers, losing 87-61.
The day started off in true, March madness form, with the first two games coming down to the wire. Little did we think excitement levels would only dwindle as the day went on.
Third-seed LSU needed a last-second bucket -- after losing a 15-point lead -- from Tremont Waters to defeat the sixth-seed Maryland Terrapins 69-67. In the Midwest Region, the second-seed Kentucky Wildcats took advantage of Fletcher Magee's shooting woes (0-12 from three-point range) to take down 7th-seed Wofford, 62-56.
From there, games were p…

NCAA tournament: Anteaters storm the hill

In the NCAA tournament, it's wise to never count out a team with a 16-game winning streak, even if that team comes from the Big West. Raise your hand if you had the Kansas State Wildcats making it to at least the Elite 8 of the 2019 men's NCAA tournament. Was it just me?
That little snafu aside, credit has to be given to the Big West champion UC Irvine Anteaters. Taking their 13-seed to heart, UC Irvine used a stifling defense and timely outside shooting to defeat the Wildcats Friday, 70-64.

It was the first-ever NCAA tournament win for the Anteaters. 
One of the keys for those teams deemed to be underdogs, notably come tournament time, is the ability to keep the game close. The Anteaters (31-5) stayed strong with that key most of the game, exchanging leads and ties, before taking the lead for good on an Evan Leonard three with 8:35 left.
Their lead grew to as big as eight before Kansas State stormed back to pull within two. However, the Wildcats failed on two opportunities t…

NCAA tournament 2019: Ja Morant's spectacular day

In a day full of heroes and superstars in the men's NCAA tournament, Ja Morant stood a foot above the rest. Starting out this morning, with a full slate of games on the schedule for the NCAA tournament, one knew Ja Morant would play an important role for the Murray State Racers. If the stat line after the game included only nine shot attempts from Morant, one might have guessed the Racers were on the losing end of the score.
Not today.
Morant was dutifully special today as the 12th-seed Racers easily defeated the fifth-seed Marquette Golden Eagles, 83-64. The sophomore guard, averaging 24.6 points per game, did not need to force a lot of shots as he had his hand in a little bit of everything against Marquette.
He finished with a triple-double, his third of the season, scoring 17 points, pulling down 11 boards, and dishing out 16 assists. Morant produced only the 9th triple-double in NCAA tournament history and the first since Draymond Green did it for Michigan State in 2012.
And …

NCAA men's tournament 2019: The top seeds, the skinny, and the dreamers

The field is set -- one exciting finish already in the books -- for the 2019 men's NCAA tournament. Will a representative from the ACC, loaded with three no. 1 seeds, produce this season's champion? truTv, the channel everyone so happily tweets "they have to locate" every March, is the home channel for the play-in games of the NCAA tournament. Or first round games (the nomenclature changes every few years, it seems). The only crime in the first game between the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights and the Prairie View A&M Panthers is that one of the teams had to go home.
The Panthers raced out to an early lead, held on for most of the second-half, only to see the Knights complete a comeback to win 82-76. This is fairly impressive, considering Fairleigh only scored six points in the game's first 9 minutes, 22 seconds.
A 48-point second half helped seal the victory. Senior guard Darnell Edge delivered for the Knights, dropping 33 points and connecting on seven 3's …

NCAA men's basketball: Duke-North Carolina III and time to dance

Selection Sunday for the NCAA men's basketball tournament is days away. But first, fans will be treated to Duke vs North Carolina III, plus other tickets to be punched. The closer we get to the NCAA men's tournament, the more the excitement grows. Zion Williamson proved that on Thursday night.
Williamson, the true freshman and heir apparent to greatness, returned to the lineup of the Duke Blue Devils on Thursday night. And, even with a few weeks of being out due to a knee injury, there are no new superlatives to describe his play.
Marvelous. Magnificent. Unparalleled.
All aspects of Williamson's game were on display in Duke's ACC quarterfinal victory over Syracuse. He had highlight reel dunks. There were displays of Williamson's highly touted skills on offense (a perfect 13-13 from the field, 29 points). He also showed off on the other end of the court, with five steals and 14 total rebounds. Even with Duke's considerable talent, Williamson proved how much bet…

NCAA Basketball: Late-season stumbling blocks for mid-major favorites

One of the best things about the allure of March Madness and the NCAA tournament is watching teams from mid-major conferences advance. Cinderella runs through the tournament amp up the drama, the intrigue, and the suspense.
There's usually a surprise team or two each year, winning over the hearts of fans and casual observers alike. These are teams who maybe hung around in the top-25 or had a late-season run, using that momentum to string together a few upsets in the tourney.
In the 2018-19 season, three teams -- the Nevada Wolf Pack, Houston Cougars, and Buffalo Bulls -- have had dream regular seasons, as far as mid-majors go. Nevada and Houston have lived in the top-10 for long stretches, each spending the entire season ranked. Buffalo, currently ranked 19th, has spent 18 straight weeks in the top-25.
All three teams won at least one game in last season's NCAA tournament, with Nevada just missing out on a trip to the Elite Eight. Thanks to an impressive regular season, all a…

NCAA men's college basketball and the chase for the number one overall seed

NCAA basketball conference tournaments are set to start soon and, depending on the results, could very well determine the number one overall seed for March Madness. Here we are, entering the month of madness, and there is still no clear cut top team in the nation for men's college basketball.
Don't tell that to the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Gonzaga (28-2, 15-0) continues to sprint past opponents, averaging 90.5 points per game. They've defeated currently ranked teams like the Duke Blue Devils and Washington Huskies, plus Illinois, Arizona, and Texas A&M.
The West Coast Conference isn't going to win any awards for toughest conference and Gonzaga has not been truly tested, with their closest victory being 12 points. A matchup with BYU last weekend was supposed to provide the Bulldogs with a test. Instead, Gonzaga won easily and handily, 102-68.
Still, this should say something about how talented this team truly is. The reasons are usually the same as to why Gonzaga isn'…