The Round of 32 is set in the NCAA tournament, and what a fun Friday it was. Don’t forget to check out our big Arizona/Harvard preview, but before we move onto Saturday, let’s look at what happened today.
Florida Gulf Coast Is a Basketball School
Before Selection Sunday, you may not have even known that Florida Gulf Coast existed. Indeed, the school didn’t exist as recently as 1990. Its first season as a Division I school was 2011-12. Yes, that’s right, this is Florida Gulf Coast’s second year as a Division I school, only its second year that it would even be eligible for the NCAA tournament.
Yet on Friday, there were the Eagles, traveling up to Philadelphia to take on college basketball royalty, the Georgetown Hoyas. The Hoyas, with one of the best players in all of college basketball, with legendary coaches, with a championship under its belt, who have been to more Final Fours than FGCU has had Division I seasons, were sitting across the floor, ready to punch their ticket to take on the San Diego State/Oklahoma victor, mostly ignoring the first-time participant they were facing. Who knows why?
Georgetown is the 1st team ever to be eliminated in 4 straight NCAA Tournaments by a team seeded at least 5 spots lower.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 23, 2013
FGCU wasn’t having any of it. The Eagles may have finished 106th in the efficiency rankings. The Eagles may have finished 2nd in the low-major Atlantic Sun Conference, needing a win over regular-season champion Mercer just to get here. The Eagles didn’t care. Nope. All the Eagles did was grow its 2-point halftime lead into a huge second half lead and then hang on for the win. But they didn’t just hang on. They brought style. After all, we were treated to one of the sickest alley oops that has ever been seen in the NCAA tournament. San Diego State will not find many friends in the Wells Fargo Center when FGCU attempts to become the first 15 seed to ever advance to the Sweet 16. But given FGCU’s dominance of Georgetown on Friday, we all should be ready for history to be made.
Florida Gulf Coast is currently the only undefeated team in NCAA Tournament history.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 23, 2013
The Atlantic 10 Shines
While the Pac-12 owned Thursday, the Atlantic 10 has owned the Round of 64. All five of the A-10’s tournament teams have advanced to the Round of 32. Most surprising moving on is La Salle, who was one of the last teams into the tournament and had to make it through Wednesday’s play-in game. La Salle came out and pushed around Kansas State, surviving a late rally to advance. Temple also had a strong showing Friday to help the conference out.
The A-10 is not alone in its impressive showing as a conference, however. The Big Ten was one Marshall Henderson rally away from advancing all seven of its teams. The Mountain West remains undefeated as Creighton avoided the upset bid.
As for underwhelming conferences, the Big East ends its long run as one of the best conferences on a low note, going 3-5 in the Round of 64. Although Louisville is still a threat to win it all and Syracuse looked very impressive, bad losses today by Georgetown and Notre Dame on Friday highlighted a bad showing. The Big XII and the Mountain West were similarly underperforming.
As for the Pac-12, UCLA and Colorado brought the conference back down to Earth a bit. UCLA’s loss was not entirely unexpected. Without Jordan Adams, Minnesota became a nightmare of a matchup for the Bruins, and Friday’s result showed. Colorado, however, could have won its game against Illinois. Neither team could do anything right, however, and the Buffs just happened to do more to lose the game than Illinois.
Outstanding Individual Performances
As with Thursday, there were some amazing individual performances on Friday. Here were the ten best:
- Seth Curry (Duke), 26 pts, 10/14 FG, 6 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals
- Mason Plumlee (Duke), 23 pts, 9/11 FG, 8 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals
- Khalif Wyatt (Temple), 31 pts, 5 assists
- Richard Howell (NC State), 14 pts, 7/10 FG, 15 boards
- Doug McDermott (Creighton), 27 pts, 11 boards
- Jerrell Wright (La Salle), 21 pts, 6/6 FG, 9/10 FT, 8 boards, 2 blocks, 1 assist
- Sherwood Brown (FGCU), 24 pts, 9 boards
- PJ Hairston (UNC), 23 pts, 7/11 FG, 5/8 3P, 5 boards, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
- Jamaal Franklin (SDSU), 21 pts, 8 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals
- Andre Hollins (Minnesota), 28 points, 9 boards, 5 assists
Sunday Look Ahead
#10 Iowa State vs. #2 Ohio State, 9:15 am, Dayton
#9 Temple vs. #1 Indiana, 11:45 am, Dayton
#8 North Carolina vs. #1 Kansas, 2:15 pm, Kansas City
#11 Minnesota vs. #3 Florida, 3:10 pm, Austin
#15 FGCU vs. #7 San Diego State, 4:10 pm, Philadelphia
#13 La Salle vs. #12 Ole Miss, 4:40 pm, Kansas City
#7 Illinois vs. #2 Miami, 5:40 pm, Austin
#7 Creighton vs. #2 Duke, 6:40 pm, Philadelphia
Obviously, the matchup that leaps off the page is FGCU and SDSU in Philly. SDSU is not entirely unlike Georgetown, but that game will come down to whether SDSU can overcome the nerves. My other favorite matchup is the last game of the weekend, Creighton’s attempt to upset Duke.
The Round of 64 was quite fun this year, lets up for a lot of close, well-fought games from here on out.