But despite all the chaos we’ve seen, three out of four. The # 1 seeds are still standing for the Elite Eight. Gonzaga and Michigan didn’t just advance on Sunday, but actually dominated quality opponents to keep their special seasons afloat. With fellow No.1 Baylor also in the Top Eight, this NCAA tournament proved just how dominant this trio is at the top of the sport this season.
The three seemed destined to secure the No.1 seeds in the NCAA tournament for weeks before the selection on Sunday, and they all employ similar formulas. Each relies heavily on the veterans, has more than just an all-star player, and is generally excellent 3-point shooter teams. Although the No.1 seed Illinois was upset in the second round, the Illini’s peers are still dancing and Sunday’s results suggest the top dogs still have plenty of fighting.
Winner: The UCLA race continues
The UCLA NCAA tournament has just gone from impressive in legendary territory with an exciting 88-78 overtime victory over the No.2 seed Alabama. The Bruins have now won four games in the NCAA tournament after losing last season’s leading scorer, Chris Smith, to injury after just eight games this season. Even without Smith and five-star point guard Daishen Nix, who relinquished his LOI to join the G League, this team continued. In just two years of work, Mick Cronin has made UCLA a team to be feared, and with Top 50 Prospects Peyton Watson and Will McClendon on the way, it looks like UCLA is set to continue to rise. But this race is not over yet.
Loser: the tide recedes
Alabama has garnered attention all season for their willingness to take – and ability to do – a ton of 3 points. What we haven’t discussed with this team, however, is free throw. But basketball is a bottom game, and the fundamental element of free throw shooting failed this team when it mattered most on Sunday. The Crimson Tide made just 11 of 25 free throws for the game and just 2 of 8 in 7:26. After shooting a respectable 71.9% when entering Sunday’s game, the line’s collapse was surprising. This is the kind of thought that will haunt you for an entire offseason.
Winner: Gonzaga’s Balance Exposed
When your top scorer shoots just one shot the entire first half and you’re 10 points ahead of a quality opponent, it’s a sign that you can have a well-rounded squad. This was the case for Gonzaga on Sunday, who dominated on the perimeter and in the paint for an 83-65 victory over Creighton. Corey Kispert scored just two points in the first half while Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard scored 12 each. In the end, Gonzaga’s five starters each scored between 9 and 22 points as the Bulldogs qualified for the Elite Eight with a relatively painless performance that once again showed just how balanced this team is.
Loser: Creighton gets cold
Creighton never led in his lopsided loss to No.1 seed Gonzaga on Sunday, but halfway through the first half it was just a three-point game in favor of the Zags. Led by a hot start from Bluejays star Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton was – against all odds – hanging out.
But as he learned the hard way in a hurry, Gonzaga is… different. He closed in a 16-8 inning to end the half. Then in the second half, he really turned on the jets, as Gonzaga more or less put the game out of reach and within reach relatively early.
“The start of the second half was huge for us,” said Creighton coach Greg McDermott. “We really wanted the opportunity to gain that four-minute time-out, and instead they were able to take that 10-14 lead. Then it’s an uphill battle against a team like this. -the. ”
Creighton’s putrid and unusual shot exacerbated the sluggish start of the second half. After making three 3s in the opening 10 minutes of the game, the team only made two 3s in the final 30 minutes of action, finishing 5 of 23 from distance.
“We had decent looks,” McDermott said. “We have been discussing all week like ‘you have to score to play with Gonzaga’. And we just haven’t scored enough. ”
Winner: Michigan dominates paint
Michigan entered the Sweet 16 showdown on Sunday after recording nine 3-pointers in a first-round victory over Texas Southern and 10 in a second-round victory over LSU. But the No.1 seed Wolverines earned their 76-58 win over Florida State on Sunday in a different way: Michigan beat the Seminoles 50-28 in the paint. In fact, the Wolverines starters combined for a single 3 point in the game and the Wolverines only shot 3 of 11 from beyond the arc in total. Center Hunter Dickinson and forwards Franz Wagner and Brandon Johns Jr. combined for 41 points.
The game was a great example of why Michigan is so dangerous. Even without a lot of outside work, the Wolverines still managed to dominate a quality foe with their deep group of scorers comfortable attacking at different levels.
Loser: Florida State’s Surprising Failure
After an impressive second-round beating from Colorado, Florida was a fashionable choice to upset Michigan. But this Seminoles team picked the wrong time to fight basketball. With Michigan dominating the inside, FSU needed to warm up beyond the arc to stand a chance, but he only made 5 out of 20 tries from 3 points. For a team that placed 16th nationally with a 38.2% 3-point shooting percentage, a 0-for-7 first half was just too much to overcome.
It has always been a great season for the Seminoles, but this loss will leave fans wondering what the 2019-20 team could have accomplished in the NCAA tournament. This team was 26-5 when the season was called off, and they had two first-round draft picks Patrick Williams and Devin Vassell.
Loser: Indiana follows plan B
It shouldn’t be too difficult for Indiana to rally its fan base behind new coach Mike Woodson, former Knicks and Hawks head coach and current Knicks assistant. He was a legendary player for the program under Bob Knight and could, in theory, do with Indiana what Juwan Howard did with Michigan. Howard is a former Wolverines star with a long NBA CV who guided Michigan to the Elite Eight in his second season as a coach.
But Woodson is pretty clearly the fallback plan for Indiana after the Hoosiers allegedly sued Celtics coach Brad Stevens and Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann.
There is also a big difference in the condition of the programs that Howard inherited in Michigan and in what Woodson enters in Indiana. Howard took over from John Beilein, who left for the NBA on his own after three straight races to the Sweet 16 or so. In contrast, Woodson will inherit a roster that is in shambles after Archie Miller’s dismissal this month sent several players to the transfer portal. Could Woodson work, of course? But UI fans will be frustrated if they try to compare his schedule of success with what Howard is doing in Michigan.
Winner: Memphis wins the NIT
How Much is an NIT Title Really Worth? It’s hard to say, as there seems to be little correlation between winning the NIT and then turning that into a big hit at the NCAA tournament the following year. But after Sunday’s 77-64 NIT title win over Mississippi State, there’s no denying that Memphis has some momentum. The Tigers have won 11 of their last 13 games and their two losses in that streak were five points combined against a Houston team that plays in the top eight. If Memphis had won either of those heartbreaking games against Houston, it likely would have made the NCAA tournament ground. But hoisting the NIT Trophy is a decent consolation prize for a team that looks set to take a milestone in coach Penny Hardaway’s fourth season.