Well yesterday was a lot less fun than the first day. On top of Mizzou’s performance and loss to Oklahoma, there were only three upsets and one of them was UCLA beating BYU... which, c’mon, is barely an upset.
The higher seeded teams were 10-6 on Friday, with a 12, 13, and 14 seed all winning games. Yesterday the higher seeded teams were 13-3, with the upsets coming from an 11, a 13 and a 14. While Missouri was playing, Ohio beat Virginia in a 4/13 matchup. Missouri fans might remember Ohio as the team who gave Illinois fits thanks to the savvy play from guard Jason Preston. I actually picked that upset because I was concerned with Virginia coming off their COVID pause during the ACC tournament, and wasn’t sure how much practice time they would have before the game.
The other big upset was Abilene Christian taking down the Big 12 tournament Champion Texas Longhorns. Texas took the lead on a late 3, but then fouled ACU big man, and former KCK area (Overland Park, KS) player Joe Pleasant who calmly sank two free throws with 1.2 seconds on the clock to give ACU the win.
In a very weird stat, the Big 12 tournament Champion (not named Kansas) has only Three NCAA tournament wins going all the way back to the year after Mike Andersons’ Tigers first won the Championship in 2009. Here are the results:
- 2010 — Kansas won
- 2011 — Kansas won
- 2012 — Missouri won, the NCAA Tournament was then weirdly cancelled
- 2013 — Kansas won
- 2014 — Iowa State won, Lost in the Sweet 16
- 2015 — Iowa State won, Lost in the First Round
- 2016 — Kansas won
- 2017 — Iowa State won, Lost in the Round of 32
- 2018 — Kansas won
- 2019 — Iowa State won, Lost in the First Round
- 2020 — Big 12 Tournament cancelled
- 2021 — Texas won, Lost in the First Round.
That’s three out of the last non-KU champions netting an early exit, and only Iowa State’s 2014 squad made it past the first weekend. I guess my point is if you’re looking for an early upset pick, maybe the Big 12 tournament Champ is a good one to keep an eye on... unless it’s Kansas.
Onto today’s games!
Former Mizzou Opponents Edition:
Illinois (1) vs Loyola (8) — 11:10 am, CBS
So I know we’re supposed to hate Illinois, and I’m not sure I wish them the most success or anything, but... (they’re a really fun team to watch). Ayo Dosunmu has been in his bag of late, and Kofi Cockburn is just a monster. They’re matched up against the worst under seeding of the tournament based upon the Committees own weird criteria. Loyola is a good and tough team and this will hopefully be a fantastic game. I’ll take the Illini.
Arkansas (3) vs Texas Tech (6) — 5:10 pm, TNT
The HAWGS march on but face Chris Beard who is a ridiculous 10-3 in the NCAA Tournament. Beard’s Tech team is a solid one and they play with maximum effort. If you can coach them into tough shots you win, but we know Arkansas’ defensive effort can come and go. Another game which should be entertaining. My pick is Tech, I’m not doubting Beard.
Florida (7) vs Oral Roberts (15) — 6:45 pm, TruTV
In a weird twist, the Florida Gators get to play their second 15 seed in tournament history in the second round. ORU struggled against Missouri because they didn’t really have an answer for Jeremiah Tilmon inside. Collin Castleton should give them similar issues. ORU is going to rely on the Gators guards being only ok defensively, and it comes down to how much Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor can carry the day again. I think the Gators get it done.
The Other games
Baylor (1) vs Wisconsin (9) — 1:40 pm, CBS
A sneaky good game here, Wisconsin blew UNCs doors off with really hot shooting. Baylor hasn’t quite been themselves since coming back off COVID pause. If the Bears are locked in defensively like they were earlier in the year, pencil them in. But if they give the Badgers opportunities to get open looks, it could be a long day. I’ll take Baylor.
West Virginia (3) vs Syracuse (11) — 4:15 pm, CBS
Syracuse won AGAIN as a double digit seed. Year after year Jim Boeheim sneaks his team into the tournament and then win a few games and make everyone mad. West Virginia does have the shooting to thwart the Zone, and the defense to give Buddy Boeheim a tough day. But if they give Buddy space, watch out. He’s been unreal of late. I’m sticking with Huggy Bear though, so give me the Mountaineers.
Houston (2) vs Rutgers (10) — 6:10 pm, TBS
Maybe the best story of the tournament is Steve Pikiell and his Rutgers Scarlett Nights. Even though they were a projected NCAA team last year the tournament was cancelled and prolonged a streak of 29 years since their last NCAA appearance. Well they got in, and then won their first game since 1983, when Tom Young talked the sidelines for a team playing in the Atlantic 10. They take on a really good Houston team, hoping for an upset, but I like the Coogs.
Villanova (5) vs North Texas (13) — 7:45 pm, TNT
Villanova is still without their starting point guard Collin Gillespie, and North Texas loves to play under control and make tough shots. I really really want to keep this train rolling with North Texas, but I liked the way Nova responded in their opening around against Winthrop. I think they squeak a win out.
Oklahoma State (4) vs Oregon State (12) — 8:40 pm, TBS
Cade Cunningham is so good, and I’m curious if the Beavers will have as good of a defensive plan as Liberty did against him. If they don’t, I think Okie State could win this game easily. The Pac 12 has had a really good showing so far, but I’ll take Mike Boynton and his Cowboys.
Enjoy your Tournament action today, y’all. More Post-season coverage for the Tigers coming soon.