NCAA Tournament Day 2 blog: Bracket-filler reactions and analysis
Charlie Riedel, AP
Matt (5:22 p.m.): Illinois-Colorado did its best to out-ugly the Wisconsin-Ole Miss game. As bad as Illinois ended up from long distance (8-for-31), the Buffaloes couldn't take advantage, shooting only slightly better. The difference? Free throws. Illinois ended up with 11 more attempts.
All but four of the Round of 32 matchups are set, it's time to take stock of team stock.
Louisville: In a bracket as wide open as this year's, the Cardinals provided the kind of dominance you want to see from a No. 1 seed. Kansas did their part too, but Lousiville was just dominant. A good sign, early on.
Harvard: Nothing's more dangerous than a team with nothing to lose and unreasonable momentum/support behind it. The Crimson fit the bill.
Oregon: The Pac-12 tourney champs are peaking at the right time, and their 13-point win over No. 5 OSU headlined a great first day from the underestimated conference. Arsalan Kazemi is the beast headlining a team that sacrifices efficiency for ferocity.
Syracuse: Holy smackdown. It's doubtful the Orange mangle their future opponents as easily as they did Montana, but you can't start off the Big Dance with a better first step than they did.
Gonzaga: Anytime you barely hold off a No. 16 seed, there are questions. The biggest one the Bulldogs face? What do they do when they meet a frontcourt defense that knows how to rotate/help on Olynyk?
Marquette: The Golden Eagles' narrow win over No. 14 Davidson was hopefully a one-night fluke from the field. After shooting 46 percent on the season, they were an atrocious 20-of-58 (34.5 percent) on Day 1.
Illinois: I hope you didn't have the Illini going far, not if panic-induced 3-point shooting sprees is their response to adversity. Panic is the last thing they need against an on-target Miami team.
Matt (4:30 p.m.): Count Illinois among the Day 2 teams unwilling to realize they should stop shooting threes (6-for-27 and counting). You're never going to believe this, but when they started shooting more threes, they lost their 16-point halftime lead.
Impressively, Colorado didn't stage this comeback just by running out on long rebounds. They're executing. They're riding momentum and execution. Killer combo.
You know what else is impressive? The number of struck-out schools and wrong marks on my bracket. It looks like one of my old college exams. I get encouraged counting up the right answers, then increasingly depressed as I realize the wrong ones more than make up for them.
Landon (4:10 p.m.): If there's one thing we've all learned from this NCAA tournament field, it's that whoever made the picks got them all wrong.
Let's recap. Three 12-seeds, a 13-seed and a 14-seed are going to advance, and the first round still isn't even over yet. What does that tell you?
First, there's far more parity in this year's college teams than we've seen in the last 10 years. Second, way too much preference was given to the traditional powerhouse programs and the Mountain West Conference. Even I got caught up in how supposedly awesome the MWC was, and as a whole, the conference has simply fallen flat.
You talk about keeping your head in a tough situation, and you're right. I'm continually amazed at the propensity teams have in these situations to play not to lose the game rather than to go for the win. I am 100 percent convinced that's the mentality K-State assumed the moment it took the lead.
"Ok, we've come all the way back. Let's not blow this again" is vastly inferior to "Yeah! We've come all the way back and we're going to keep this thing rolling!"
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