The first and second round games are played for a reason. College basketball fans witnessed firsthand some of the shocking upsets that came down from No. 15 St. Peter’s going to the Sweet 16 to both second-seeded Auburn and top-seeded Baylor losing in the second round.
How did the Big East do during the opening weekend? Did two teams make it to the Sweet 16 like last year? Were any of them upset?
Writer’s Note: I don’t know what’s more hectic right now. The NFL offseason or March Madness?
Providence 66, South Dakota St. 57 (March 17): Wabbit Season
The Jackrabbits entered with a 21-game winning streak while Providence needed to recover from their embarrassing loss to Creighton in the Big East Tournament. It made perfect sense that these guys played the opening nine minutes without stopping. Providence led by 14 in the second half, but the Jackrabbits rallied to make it a 3-point game. The upset was not meant to be as Jared Bynum drew a 3-point foul with 29 seconds left and the Friars captured the Rabbit’s foot to add to their lucky pile.
UNC 95, Marquette 63 (March 17): 1977
These two schools are no strangers to each other. They met in 1977 for the national title and most recently in an impromptu battle last season, Marquette’s only victories in this series all-time. Marquette led 8-7 in the first half but never witnessed the lead again as UNC outscored them 88-55 the rest of the contest. Both Caleb Love and Brady Manek collected over 20 points and Armando Bacot got a double-double as UNC controlled the contest, shooting 45.9% from the field and outrebounding Marquette 52-37.
Creighton 72, San Diego St. 69 (March 17): New Kids on the Flock
San Diego State led by 14 in the first half, looking to prove that experience matters in the postseason before Creighton sequentially dipped into the lead with their own veterans. With their season on the line, the Blue Jays went on a 9-0 run late in regulation to force overtime. Even with Ryan Kalkbrenner injuring his knee in the overtime period, Creighton scored the last six points of the game. For the second consecutive season, unsung heroes ended a California team’s dream of beating Creighton in the first round.
New Mexico State 70, UConn 63 (March 17): Terry Allen did what?
The less I say about this game, the better. Our Sports Editor, Jon, explains it better.
Check it out online at thedailycampus.com
Villanova 80, Delaware 60 (March 18): A little bit of chicken fried
Villanova trailed 15-8 and struggled out of the gate. Then the Wildcats realized it was a Friday night, cracked open an ice-cold water, put on some jeans, turned up the radio and cooked Delaware 72-45 the rest of the way. Blocks by Brandon Slater and Jermaine Samuels mattered, but Justin Moore scoring 21 points on 7-13 shooting and Samuels adding 15 points contributed to the offensive cookout the most.
TCU 69, Seton Hall 42 (March 18): Leapfrogged
Seton Hall had not won a tournament game since 2018, TCU had not won since 1987. It was close in the beginning, but thanks to a 10-0 run in the first half and a 9-0 run to close out the game, TCU dusted the Pirates as Head Coach Jamie Dixon led his second program (the other being Pittsburgh) to the second round. Seton Hall shot poorly, shooting 28.8% from the field, 6-21 from beyond the arc and 6-11 from the charity stripe. To make matters worse, Seton Hall Head Coach Kevin Willard left for the Maryland Terrapins after 12 seasons.
Kansas 79, Creighton 72 (March 19): Birdhouse Rock
Down two Ryans and playing all nine healthy players, everyone expected Kansas to wipe the floor with the Blue Jays. We may all need to consider Greg McDermott as a National Coach of the Year candidate because Creighton trailed by one point at halftime. Kansas created separation toward the end at the free throw line and on a breakaway dunk by Ochai Agbaji to avoid a potential upset and the publication of another feel-good story about birds. Whenever the next AP poll is released, Creighton should 100% be in it.
Providence 79, Richmond 51 (March 19): Spider-Slammed
Providence loves close games and luck, but didn’t need to worry about either of them. The fourth-seeded Friars stomped all over the No. 12 Spiders, scoring 10 of the first 12 points and never looking back. Providence’s offense dictated the entire game and washed Richmond out of the drain as they shot 51.9% from the field and 54.5% from long range while the Spiders shot 1-22 from downtown. Providence’s fortuitous season continues, and it could be enough to make their second ever trip to the Final Four.
Villanova 71, Ohio State 61 (March 20): Buckeye Buckaroo
Villanova wanted sweet revenge after losing to Ohio State by 25 points in 2019. Villanova was up 11 at the break and expanded that lead to 15 before the Buckeyes cut the deficit to two. Fending off the upset-minded Buckeyes, Eric Dixon nailed a dagger of a three-pointer to help the Wildcats make their fourth Sweet 16 in six years. Collin Gillespie was a problem with 20 points, but Dixon was just as dangerous as he went 2-2 from downtown for 13 points. Is another title run in the cards for the Wildcats?
For the second consecutive season, the top two teams in the conference made it to the Sweet 16. Villanova plays Michigan in a 2018 National Championship rematch in San Antonio while Providence draws Kansas for the first time in Chicago. Meanwhile Xavier, who may get referenced in next week’s edition, hosts Vanderbilt in the NIT quarterfinals Tuesday for a trip to Madison Square Garden. The Big Ten might not be completely overrated, but the Big East remains legitimate and dangerous.