As the East region moves to Philadephia this week, let’s quickly re-visit Sunday’s second round action.
The obvious. North Carolina showed us they’re really good.
They took it to Florida Gulf Coast (83-67) and No. 9 Providence (85-66) while allowing fewer than their season average of 69.9 points per game. The Tar Heels will need to maintain that superb below average performance when they face No. 5 Indiana who rolled No. 12 Chattanooga (99-74) and survived an unmotivated No. 4 Kentucky (73-67). The Hoosiers average 82.3 points per making Friday evening’s match-up potentially one for the ages. The biggest question: Does Tom Crean have another great coaching performance in him?
I love you Xavier, but #OnWisconsin.
Look, I’m not a Wisconsin guy; I don’t really appreciate how Bo Ryan inserted Greg Gard as the head coach this year, because frankly I think it’s bush league for someone to think they control their job and their former program after they leave. That said, Gard has done a phenomenal job with this team that many didn’t expect to have a repeat of last season. Sunday’s game versus Xavier was, well, extraordinary. Despite the fact that Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes had another sub-par game, the Badgers were able to erase Xavier’s nine-point lead in six minutes. Then the Badgers won on a buzzer-beating corner three-pointer from Bronson Koenig. All this after Wisconsin was up by 11 in the first half. This is why you love March.
Mike Brey and the Irish have a drive for excitement.
Was the Notre Dame-Steven F. Austin game the best of the tournament so far? Probably. Despite the three-quarter court buzzer-beaters, the upset of Michigan State, and Wisconsin’s Brandon Koenig’s channeling his ‘inner Steph Curry’, no other game had the back-and-forth of this game, right? No. 6 Notre Dame faces No. 7 Wisconsin on Thursday at 7:27 Eastern. You can bet Thursday’s game will have all the dramatics both teams brought to the table in first two rounds of the tournament.
Who wins the East?
If you don’t think this is the most interesting of the four regions, then you better hope and pray your boss doesn’t send you for a drug test anytime soon. It would be very difficult put the teams in any other order than the rankings in which they already stand, No. 1 North Carolina, No. 5 Indiana, No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 7 Wisconsin, BUT if you use recent history (last year’s tournament) as a guide, it would be tough to discount either Notre Dame or Wisconsin winning the region. To give either of those teams the region win would ignore what North Carolina has done this season, their seed and the respect that Roy Williams commands. As much as I love the drama and funny faces of Tom Crean, I cannot see the Hoosiers advancing to Saturday’s games. So, and I’m sure I’ll be wrong, but give me North Carolina over Notre Dame in the regional final Saturday night.
What the hell else do you have to talk about?
Yeah, the media…and because Bob limited me ONLY to this region, here are some of the best Vine’s, Instagram’s and Tweet’s I could come up with in five minutes.
I don’t think we’ll ever be done with Wisconsin-Xavier, so here’s Syracuse’s Christian White’s fathers’ (get all that?) reaction from behind Wisconsin’s bench on that last second shot:
— Christian White (@cdwhite54) March 21, 2016
Barstool Sports has another dramatic view of that same shot. The guy in the orange hat, yeah that’s White’s father.
A video posted by Barstool Sports (@barstool_sports) on
Notre Dame’s Rex Pflueger’s now-famous tip-in:
Steven F. Austin’s coach Brad Underwood talks about Thomas Walkup:
— LumberjackBasketball (@SFA_MBB) March 20, 2016
E-mail Damien at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.
Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr.