Two days and 32 games are in the books in the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. It’s difficult to imagine, however, how the games could get any more exciting than most were in the second-round on Thursday and Friday.
Four Big 12 teams remain in the dance-off they like to call March Madness. Of the four teams from the Big 12 left in the hunt, Iowa State, the No. 3 seed in the East Region had the most impressive opening-game performance, beating 14-seed North Carolina Central going away, 93-75, shooting 64 percent in the process.
Texas was perhaps the most fortunate of the four Big 12 teams that advanced out of the second round. Longhorn 6-9 sophomore center Cameron Ridley put back a missed three-point shot by Jonathan Holmes with time expiring on the game clock to give Texas a two-point 87-85 victory over the 10 seed in the Midwest, Arizona State.
The Longhorns (24-10) are the lone conference team playing on Saturday. They are matched with the region’s No. 2-seeded Michigan Wolverines (26-8), the Big Ten regular-season champion, who defeated 15-seed Wofford, 57-40, on Thursday in Milwaukee.
Baylor, the No. 6 seed in the West, had Nebraska’s number pretty much from the start and had a relatively easy time disposing of the 11th-seeded team from the Big Ten, 74-60. Next the Bears go up against the Creighton Blue Jays (27-7) on Sunday, with the winner going on to the Sweet 16 next weekend in Anaheim, Calif.
The third-seeded Blue Jays downed Louisiana-Lafayette by 10 points in the second round and feature the player expected by many to be named the National Player of the Year in college basketball in 6-8 senior Doug McDermott. The Blue Jays’ star scored 30 and had 12 rebounds in leading Creighton to victory in its opening tournament game.
Kansas had more of a battle than it might have expected from the Ohio Valley Conference champions, the Eastern Kentucky Colonels, making their first appearance in the NCAA Men’s Tournament. The Jayhawks, the No. 2 seed in the South, had trouble putting the Colonels away, despite shooting over 60 percent for the game and outrebounding Eastern Kentucky by 24.
Behind freshman Andrew Wiggins’ team-high 19 points and redshirt sophomore Jamari Traylor, who came off the bench to score 17, and a 13-rebound performance from sophomore Perry Ellis, the Jayhawks turned it up a notch in the closing minutes to separate themselves from the pesky Colonels and win by 11 in a game that was closer throughout than the final score indicates.
12), in the round of 32 on Sunday morning in St. Louis. 53 on Friday with 23 points from junior guard Randle Chasson. Tfoot freshman center Joel Embiid, who has missed Kansas’ last five games with a stress fracture in his back.
Jayhawk head coach Bill Self is hopeful his big man inside will be able to play next weekend should Kansas get by Stanford. During the regular season, Embiid averaged 11 points, eight rebounds and nearly three blocks per game.
While Kansas is hopeful that it will have Embiid back in the lineup next weekend, assuming of course that the Jayhawks get by Stanford in the third round, Iowa State must adjust to losing its third leading scorer for the remainder of the tournament. Cyclone sophomore Georges Niang had 24 points in Iowa State’s second-round victory on Friday. After the game it was revealed that Niang had fractured a bone in his foot.
The Cyclones will miss the versatile Niang in their next game, which is against another team from North Carolina, the sixth-seeded Tar Heels (24-9). The Tar Heels escaped with a last second 79-77 victory over Big East Conference champion Providence.
My Third-Round NCAA Men’s Tournament Picks Involving Big 12 Teams
Michigan 72, Texas 65
Kansas 72, Stanford 59
Iowa State 79, North Carolina 70
Creighton 66, Baylor 62