The second weekend of the NCAA Basketball Tournament is usually the most dramatic time of year for college basketball, and this weekend in no way disputed that assertion. For starters all the favorites won in both the round of 16 and the elite eight. The only team that marginally pulled off an upset was the Michigan State Spartans who defeated Louisville in OT yesterday. The other matches were fabulous and most of the regional finals came down to a one verse a two seed which makes for higher ratings on the weekend.
The game of the weekend and perhaps the year was certainly Notre Dame verse still undefeated Kentucky. The Wildcats entered the game 37-0 and it took all 40 minutes to stay that way as there were an amazing 20 lead changes in a game that was a back and forth as you can get. The only way this came could’ve got any better would’ve been had Bryce Drew made a three from just inside half court to lead Notre Dame to the Final Four. Kentucky for the better part of the game remained close to the hip of Notre Dame for most of the game. Notre Dame’s Zach Auguste and Jerian Grant did all they could to thwart the perfect season of Kentucky, but in the end it was one of the Freshman phonemes for Kentucky that led the Wildcats to the Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium next Saturday. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 25 points in 25 minutes to lead the Wildcats in scoring on the night. In doing so Towns went 10-13 from the floor and 5-6 from the free-throw line. Most of Towns’ damage was done in the second half when Kentucky was continuing to hang on for dear life, Towns had 17 second half points and with six seconds left to go Jerian Grant saw his desperation three from the corner fall harmlessly to the floor. Notre Dame played Kentucky as well as they could’ve and despite the Herculean effort it wasn’t enough as the Cats made big shots in the second half mostly by Towns who in the second half owned the paint. Next Saturday Kentucky will try and advance to the National Championship against Wisconsin and Frank Kaminsky who scored 29 points in his regional final against Arizona.
The other games were equally entertaining as they were competitive, however in the end the higher seeds advanced and in the Final Four there will three number one seeds, two of which hail from the Big Ten. Duke pulled away from Gonzaga in the second half of their regional final, and Wisconsin handily defeated Arizona in LA. Frank Kaminsky showed his worth to the team as he scored 29 points for the Baggers who’re going back to the Final Four for the second straight year (first time in school history). Sam Dekker made big shots all night particularly from beyond the three point line, Kaminsky and Dekker combined for 56 of Wisconsin’s 85 point on Saturday evening and the Badgers knocked off Arizona for the second consecutive year in the Elite 8.
The match-ups for Saturday will kick off with Duke facing Michigan State in a meeting between two of the best coaches in college basketball today. No matter what the outcome, the early game was going to be a fabulous coaching display with either Pitino or Izzo matching wits with Coach K. The nightcap will see the two number one seeds go head to head when Kentucky tried to make it 39-0 at the expense of Bo Ryan and likely player of the year Frank Kaminsky. The Final Four tip-off next Saturday at 5:09 local time with the second game slated to start at 7:50.