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Two rounds in two minutes recap

Autore: Manuel Follis
Data: 23 Mar, 2017

What happened before the Sweet16? The first round did not produce much noise, except for the more than expected Middle Tennessee over Minnesota upset and Xavier knocking Maryland out, which should not be considered an upset, considering the strength of the two teams. The two most exciting games where a Notre Dame 60-58 win over Princeton and the Michigan 92-91 win over Oklahoma State that boosted the Wildcats confidence for the next round.

The real surprises came in the second set of games, with the East Regional #1 seed Villanova and #2 seed Duke getting knocked out. The defending champions got tangled up in a cerebral Wisconsin offense that takes advantage of the full 30 seconds on the shot clock, taking out of the game most of the Wildcats players and forcing them to rely solely on Josh Hart.

The Blue Devils, on the other hand, blew a 10 point lead to start the second half and allowed South Carolina to score 65 points in the final 20 minutes. Other prominent teams getting knocked out are Louisville, SMU and Florida State. Virginia scoring a total of 39 points against Florida stands out as much as Caleb Swanigan recording his 28th double-double of the season.

As for a feel-good Cinderella story, look no further than Xavier. The Musketeers lost their best player midway through the season and could have crumbled, but they played and won with authority so far. Wisconsin advanced in the first two rounds by playing a brand of basketball that might not be spectacular but is based on execution and IQ. The Badgers also rely on an old school center in Ethan Happ who has great footwork and on the “craziness” that Nigel Hayes brings to the table. Michigan was just not supposed to be here: snubbed in preseason and the whole team risked their lives on a plane crash, but the Wildcats won both the Big Ten and a difficult match-up against Louisville (with Pitino not being his usually brilliant self) by raining threes on their opponents.

Of course there are plenty of top teams still running for the title: North Carolina, Gonzaga and Kansas had a hard time in the second round but still made it to the Sweet 16, together with Kentucky, Arizona, Florida, UCLA and the surprisingly good Baylor.


If you are wondering who among the Nba draft prospects is still in play, the biggest names are Lonzo Ball (UCLA), Josh Jackson (Kansas), Malik Monk (Kentucky), Justin Jackson (North Carolina) and Lauri Markkanen (Arizona). All of them will be first round pick, most of them will be taken in the lottery.

But college basketball is fun because of the “other” players as well, those who might end up in the Nba, or in Europe or maybe will never be professional athletes but will still offer incredible performances this time of the year. The first two rounds offered a few names.

The first on the list, a name plenty of Nba scouts have taken note of, is German Moritz Wagner, a sophomore who scored twice on eleven three point attempts last year and this season improved to 40% on 110 attempts. What happened last summer? What did coach Beilein do to him? We certainly do not know but as of today he is the most interesting players to watch. If it was only for the highlights against Louisville, it would be fair to consider it as a miracle.

Sindarius Thornwell is the big reason why South Carolina reached the Sweet 16. The Gamecocks are the worst 3-point and 2-point shooting team among all those that reached the third round. But Thornwell has been playing like a man possessed for the whole year. His shooting is not that consistent, but he never gives up.

Tyler Dorsey is the best kept secret in Oregon. The Chris Bouchner injury was a huge concern for the Bears, but the Ducks just turned to Dorsey who delivered a 24-point game and backed it up with a 27-point game on 6-of-9 from beyond the arc and a couple of huge clutch plays down the stretch.

Last on this list is Sean O’Mara, the kind of center who really doesn’t look like a basketball player if it wasn’t for his height. O’Mara was crucial in the two Xavier’s win over Maryland and Florida State as a defensive force and an efficient scorer on offense. Blue collar power.

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