The Big East got back on track and went unbeaten
After the Providence Friars fell to the USC Trojans, the hope for the Big East’s reps on Thursday was for them not to follow in their footsteps. Well, consider that mission accomplished. Despite the fact that ‘Nova had a scare put into them by Mount Saint Mary’s, the Wildcats ultimately prevailed and advanced as the No. 1 seed should. The Xavier Musketeers got the upper hand after trading blows with the Maryland Terrapins in Orlando. And the Butler Bulldogs pieced together probably the most impressive performance, drubbing the Winthrop Eagles from bell to bell.
The top seeds survived the scares -- for the most part
Three 5-12 matchups went down and only the Minnesota Golden Gophers were on the receiving end of a loss. Granted, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders are no ordinary 12 seed. They were favored in the game after all and will surely give Butler a run for their money on Saturday. The Virginia Cavaliers though? Took down UNC Wilmington. Notre Dame? Survived at the buzzer against the Princeton Tigers. 4 seeds were also successful as Butler, Purdue and West Virginia both notched victories. And of course, Villanova and Gonzaga avoided being tagged with that kind of loss. Chaos wasn’t the name of the game on Thursday, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be on Friday.
Northwestern grabbed the elusive first win
Matthew Fisher-Davis’ blunder aside (bless him; feel awful for him), the story to come out of Vanderbilt-Northwestern was that the Wildcats grabbed their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. So hats off to the #B1GCats, who will have their hands full on Saturday against Gonzaga to say the very least.
Arizona looked damn impressive
Out West, one of the few things standing in the way of Gonzaga’s pursuit of their first Final Four are the Arizona Wildcats. And... well, they certainly proved their worth and then some. The Wildcats beat up the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, doing so in greater fashion than either of the 1 seeds who took the floor on Thursday. UofA looks poised to make a deep run and while St. Mary’s will give them all they have, the Wildcats look like title contenders if they’re going to play this well.
What to Watch For
- Can Michigan keep their hot streak going?
- Wichita State-Dayton, a matchup of top-flight ‘mid-majors’
- Duke, UNC, UCLA, Kentucky, Louisville, Oregon AND Baylor ALL in action
- Does Marquette have the juice? How about Seton Hall? Creighton? Can the Big East stay unbeaten?