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 🚨— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 25, 2019
Here is the last one standing. Can it go all the way? #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/CA0kIZJGF7
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 of excitement, with appearances by some of the game's brightest stars. Some were well known nationally before the tournament started while some are now much more than simply a blip on the radar.
Mt. Zion himself, Zion Williamson, has had an outstanding first two games. averaging 28.5 points per game. Teammate and fellow freshman R.J. Barrett has been impressive as well, scoring 21 points a contest in the tournament.
Ja Morant (Murray State), Aubrey Dawkins (32 points for UCF against Duke in a rock-solid performance), and Dylan Windler (Belmont) have exited the tournament but their performances will not soon be forgotten.
And so it is every year with the tourney. Names that work their way into our collective consciousness, no matter how their pro careers did -- or didn't -- out. From Danny Manning to Adam Morrison to Kemba Walker, heroes are made, while some fall, come tournament time. Who will rise to the sky as we march towards April 7?
We will soon find out as the tournament continues Thursday, March 28.
(4) Florida State vs (1) Gonzaga
Over in the West region, action gets started with a rematch of a Sweet 16 game from a year ago, with the Gonzaga Bulldogs looking to avenge last year's 75-60 loss to the Florida State Seminoles.
Florida State (29-7) will be the first of five teams from the ACC to see action in the Sweet 16. The Seminoles average 83 points in their first two games, holding opponents to 65.5. They have a balanced attacked and a strong frontcourt, though they will be without Phil Cofer. Cofer, who missed the first two games of the tournament with an injured foot, will be out this weekend as well. Cofer learned after Florida State's opening round win that his father, former NFL player Mike Cofer, had passed away after a long illness.
Sophomore Mfiondu Kabengale has been the star for the first two games, averaging 21.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. The 6'10" forward has come off the bench in both games.
Gonzaga (32-3) has averaged 85 points per game in the tournament, thanks to a 38-point win over Fairleigh Dickinson and a 12-point win over Baylor. This has been in small part thanks to the play of transfer Brandon Clarke.
Clarke, who sat out last season after transferring from San Jose St., had a 36-point, 8-rebound, 5-block performance against Baylor. Clarke was also 15-18 from the field. In two tournament games, he's averaging 24 points and 8 rebounds, with 8 blocked shots to his credit.
(3) Purdue vs (2) Tennessee
One of three teams remaining from the Big 10, the Purdue Boilermakers (25-9) are riding what is essentially a one-man meal ticket at this point.
Star Carsen Edwards has been on fire in the first two games, averaging 34 points per game. He poured it on against the defending champion, scoring 42 points and connecting on nine 3's in the blowout victory.
Purdue is outscoring opponents by an average of 20 in the tournament and has won eight of their last ten games.
The Tennessee Volunteers (31-5) had to survive an overtime scare against Iowa and are led by a quartet of veteran players.
In the backcourt, Jordan Bone and Lamonte are averaging 15 points and 14 points, respectively, in the NCAA tournament this year. And on the frontcourt side of things, Admiral Schofield is averaging 19 points in the tournament and Grant Williams dropped 19 in the Iowa game.
Tennessee entered the tournament having lost three of their last eight games. They are averaging 80 points in the tournament while allowing 73.5.
(3) Texas Tech (2) Michigan
Defense will be the name of the game when the Texas Tech Red Raiders (28-6) square off against the Michigan Wolverines (30-6) in the West regional game.
Texas Tech has held their two tournament opponents to an average of 57.5 points. The Red Raiders have averaged 75 and enter this Sweet 16 game winners in 11 of their last 12 games.
Guard Jarrett Culver has been doing it all for the Red Raiders in the first two games. Culver is averaging 22.5 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists per game.
Culver will have to contend with three experienced starting guards for the Wolverines. Jordan Poole has scored 29 points in the tournament. Zavier Simpson is the wizard that orchestrates the offense and motors the defense. Simpson had 9 points, 9 assists, and 9 rebounds in a round of 32 victory over Florida. And Charles Matthews has 31 points and 7 rebounds in the tournament so far.
Michigan has an even stingier defense, allowing only 52 points per game in the tournament. The Wolverines averaged 69 in two games and entered tournament play going 6-4 in their last ten games.
(12) Oregon vs (1) Virginia
The lowest seed remaining in the tournament might very well be its hottest as the Oregon Ducks (25-12) have won 10 straight. The Ducks will take on the Virginia Cavaliers (32-3) in this South region game.
And it could very well be a game with even more defense than the Michigan/Texas Tech game. Oregon has allowed only 54 points per game in the tournament, while Virginia sits at 53.5. Oregon is scoring a little over five points per game more than Virginia.
Guard De'Andre Hunter had 23 points in the Cavs opening round victory over Gardner-Webb. Roaming the interior, Mamadi Diakite has been a force in the tournament for Virginia. Diakite is averaging 15.5 points and 9 rebounds per game.
Oregon counters with their own guard/forward duo. Point guard Payton Pritchard is dropping 18.5 points and dishing out 7.5 assists in two tournament games. And while Kenny Wooten isn't scoring as much as Diakite does, Wooten does have 14 rebounds and 11 blocked shots in this year's tournament.
- Gonzaga over Florida State
- Tennessee over Purdue
- Texas Tech over Michigan
- Virginia over Oregon