March Madness Blog – Observations from Saturday’s day games

March Madness Blog – Observations from Saturday’s day games

I hope everyone enjoyed the running diaries of the first two days. There were 32 games on TV the past two days, a ridiculous amount of basketball to watch. To keep from overdoing that format, I’ll be switching up to a more critical analysis of each game.

In an update to the Sports Spectrum bracket challenge, through the round of 64 and these four games, Richard R. is in first place and the Sports Spectrum staff of Bryce Johnson, Steve Copeland, Brett Honeycutt, and I are all in the middle of the pack. Shows what we know.

#1 Syracuse Orange vs. #8 Kansas State EAST REGION

Final Score: 75-59 Syracuse

Observations:

-The Orange put their near debacle against UNC Asheville to rest, keeping Kansas State at arm’s length with about a 7 to 12 point window most of the way.

-Their 2-3 zone was much more effective than Thursday, and their length really disrupted the Wildcats. Kansas State was not able to hit enough outside shots, only knocking down four 3-pointers.

-The game seemed to be in the Orange’s control the whole way (and they didn’t even need the refs help).

Key Stats:

-0 Bench points from Kansas State

-Southerland and Jardine shoot 100 percent from three for the Orange.

Interesting Quote:

-Color commentator Len Elmore called Scoop Jardine, “Johnny to the rescue.” I’ve heard “Johnny on the spot”, but “Johnny to the rescue” is a new one.

Player of the Game: Scoop Jardine. Jardine was perfect from beyond the arc (3-3), scoring 16 points and dishing out 8 assists.

Up next for Syracuse: Wisconsin

#2 Ohio State vs. #7 Gonzaga EAST REGION

Final Score: 73-66 Ohio State

Observations:

-Buckeyes big man Jared Sullinger sat out a good portion of the first half with foul trouble, but Gonzaga was unable to take advantage, trailing by two at halftime.

-After tying the game at 61 with 4:03 left to play, Gonzaga went cold and did not score again until Elias Harris made a free throw with 23 seconds left.

Key Stats:

-Craft and Buford played every minute of the game.

-Ohio State shot 47 percent while Gonzaga shot just 39 percent.

-Kevin Pangos just 3-13 from the field. He normally shoots 43 percent from the field and is a key component to Gonzaga’s offense.

Funny Moments:

-In a pre-game video, Aaron Craft solved a Rubik’s cube in just over a minute.

- Right before the game, the CBS sideline reporter was almost run over by a Gonzaga cheerleader.

- At halftime, Aaron Craft jumped over a row of photographers on his way to the locker room.

Player of the Game: Aaron Craft. Craft finished with 17 points, 10 assists and 3 steals. Craft made a lot of big shots in the first half when Jared Sullinger was in foul trouble and Gonzaga had a lead. Craft helped trim the deficit and take a 2-point lead into the half.

Up next for Ohio State: Winner of FSU vs. Cincinnati

#3 Marquette vs. #6 Murray State WEST REGION

Final Score: 62-53 Marquette

Observations:

-The game was played at a furious pace but neither team shot particularly well.

-Murray State shot just 31 percent overall and Marquette shot 37 percent overall.

-There were a lot of Kentucky fans in the building waiting for the Wildcats to take on Iowa State. When Murray State made a run and took a 46-41 lead, the crowd was going bananas. That was with 7:46 left to play. Murray State only scored seven more points the rest of the way.

Key Stats:

-Isaiah Canaan scored 16 points but shot just 4-17 doing it. Not a good percentage for your best player. If he shoots at a better clip, we could be talking about the Racers in the Sweet Sixteen.

Take a Breath:

-During one sequence, the game was being played so fast, the broadcast team of Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery went silent in order to catch a breath.

Player of the Game: Jae Crowder. Crowder finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds and made big shots when needed.

Up next for Marquette: Winner of Florida vs. Norfolk State

#4 Wisconsin vs. #5 Vanderbilt EAST REGION

Final Score: 60-57 Wisconsin

Observations:

-Wisconsin’s Ryan Evans got out to a great start, scoring 8 points in the first few minutes of the game. He only scored 4 more points, but got the big rebound to seal it.

-Every Wisconsin game turns into a slow plodding defensive struggle. It’s very hard to watch.

Key Stats:

-Wisconsin made 10 three pointers. Vanderbilt made only five.

-Just 7 assists for Vanderbilt.

Funny Moment:

-The play-by-play man in this game said late in the second half, “Ben Brust is taking over the Wisconsin offense.” It was only his 11th point, but that’s an offensive outburst in a Wisconsin game.

Player of the Game: Ryan Evans. Wisconsin really won as a team by getting contributions from many, but Ryan Evans had the early hot hand to give the Badgers a cushion in the first half that they played with the rest of the way. He also got the rebound at the end to finish the Commodores.

Up next for Wisconsin: Syracuse