1. Another contender bites the dust...
After Villanova's loss last night to N.C. State, Michigan State kept the upset train rolling with a decisive 60-54 victory over Virginia this afternoon. As a two-seed, the Cavaliers were a popular title pick (after Kentucky, of course), but the seventh-seeded Spartans rolled to the Sweet 16 behind a dominant performance from guard Travis Trice, who dropped 23 points. Trice made it pretty clear after the game how confident he was coming into the team's rematch with Virginia, who they faced in the Sweet 16 last season.
Draymond Green texted Trice this AM: "Don't let this be your last game" "I won't" Trice said he texted back— Chip Patterson (@Chip_Patterson) March 22, 2015
2. ...and another stays alive
On the flip side, while many of the tournament's key contenders fought off stiff competition in the round of 32, the Duke Blue Devils coasted onward very comfortably with a 68-49 victory over San Diego State. The win served as an individual showcase for Duke's NBA prospects, as freshman center Jahlil Okafor finished with 26 points and six rebounds and freshman wing Justise Winslow added an all-around stat line of 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks. Can we PLEASE get Duke and Kentucky into the final to watch Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns go head to head?
3. The East Region is COMPLETELY up for grabs
With Virginia and Villanova both out after the first weekend, the East region has become a complete toss-up. If you had told me heading into the tourney that the last four teams remaining in that region were going to be N.C. State, Louisville, Oklahoma and Michigan State, I would've walked away laughing, but it's honestly a bit of a crapshoot now. That being said...
4. The Sooners may be the East's team to beat
As their region's top remaining seed, Oklahoma has established themselves as the squad to watch in the East after a tight 72-66 victory over the upstart Dayton Flyers. Dayton had surprised fans with an upset over Providence on Friday, but their attempt at repeating their run from last year's tournament fell short today as Buddy Hield and the Sooners storm on to face Michigan State in the Sweet 16. With their all-around athleticism and offensive versatility, Oklahoma has the best path to the Final Four in their region.
5. Wichita State continues the upset party
While it may not have been as surprising as Virginia's loss, Wichita State's victory over two-seed Kansas continued to cement the Shockers as a very legitimate threat moving forward. The team came into the tournament as a terrifying seventh seed, and they're starting to make it pretty clear that they don't plan on going home early. In the end, we'll never know how far Kansas would have gone had Cliff Alexander been eligible, but for now, the Jayhawks can join the handful of other contenders heading into the offseason a few weeks early.
6. West Virginia pulls away late
Despite a quiet performance from Juwan Staten, the West Virginia Mountaineers knocked off fourth-seeded Maryland with a late run in the second half. Dez Wells fouled out in the final minute, but Melo Trimble's 15 points and seven rebounds weren't enough to lift the Terrapins up against a West Virginia squad that had four players finish in double digit scoring. The Mountaineers will have the next shot to end Kentucky's championship aspirations; AKA, things are looking pretty grim in Morgantown today.
7. Terry Rozier is really good at basketball
While Northern Iowa ended up having to rely on their depth to stay afloat against Louisville, it was all Rozier, all night for the Cardinals. The sophomore guard ended up with 25 points, five rebounds and seven assists, dominating on both ends as his team blew things open in the game's final minutes. Montrezl Harrell literally slammed all over the Northern Iowa defenders for 14 points and six rebounds, and as well as N.C. State played against Villanova, my money's on Louisville next week.
8. Wisconsin finishes with four guys in double digit scoring
While national player of the year Frank Kaminsky still finished with a trademark 16 point/seven rebound performance, but the most impressive part of their 72-65 over Oregon was in their well-rounded scoring column. Sam Dekker led the Badgers with 17 points, and Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig each had 14 points and 12 points, respectively. The Badgers will face North Carolina in the Sweet 16, but if they can move the ball around the way they did today, they're going to be a tough out going forward.
9. Wichita State and Notre Dame: The Sweet 16's most exciting matchup
Coming into the tournament, Notre Dame and Wichita State both could have made claims as the top teams in their respective seeds, and after two rounds, they're proving why. The head-to-head guard matchup between Jerian Grant and Fred VanVleet will be reason enough to watch, but the prospect of a potential Kentucky-Wichita State rematch from last year is too exciting to pass up. This one's going to be fun.
10. Xavier holds down the Big East fort
Well, that flipped pretty quickly. After the conference started out 4-0 in tournament play, Xavier stands alone as the final Big East team remaining in the field after a rough round of 32 for Villanova, Butler and Georgetown. The Musketeers will take on Arizona, who has pretty much dominated everyone they've played over the last three weeks, but for now, X is repping the conference all by themselves heading into next week.