March Madness Blog – Observations from Sunday’s day games

Eight more games to watch today, which by the end of the night, will bring the total to 52 NCAA tournament games watched for the entire week. There were four games in the First Four, 32 in the second round and 16 in the the third round. I think I’m on basketball overdose!

In the first four games Sunday, we finally got our first upset of the third round, as NC State (11) took down Georgetown (3). Everything else remained with the chalk.

#3 Georgetown vs. #11 NC State MIDWEST REGION

Final Score: 66-63 NC State

Observations:

- Georgetown seemed to be in control the first 14 minutes or so of the first half, but NC State went on a run to close the half and never really gave back control of the game.

- Mark Gottfried was the perfect hire for NC State, in just one season, he has the Wolfpack back in the Sweet Sixteen. I think he’ll be getting a raise.

Key Stats:

- Four starters scored in double digits for NC State.

- Hollis Thompson had 23 points for the Hoyas, but only one other starter scored double figures (Jason Clark).

- Twenty-three fouls on Georgetown, resulting in 31 free throws attempted by NC State.

Wolfpack in the house: This is NC State’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006, and they’ve taken down a 6 seed (San Diego State) and a 3 seed (Georgetown). Up next could be a 2 seed in Kansas. The Wolfpack are back and causing mass destruction.

Player of the Game: Lorenzo Brown. Brown directed the offense and hit big free throws down the stretch to help seal the win for NC State.

Up next for NC State: Winner of Kansas vs. Purdue

#1 Michigan State vs. #9 Saint Louis WEST REGION

Final Score: 65-61 Michigan State

Observations:

- Saint Louis hung around with the Spartans, but it never felt like the Billikens were going to be able to get over the hump. Anytime they got within a few points, the Spartans would make a big defensive play or hit a big shot.

- This game was a tough one on the eyes. So much so, I actually dozed off for a couple of minutes in the second half.

Key Stats:

- Rick Majerus (Saint Louis, 517) and Tom Izzo (Michigan State, 411) have combined for 928 career wins.

- Saint Louis shot just 35 percent from the field, while Michigan State shot 54 percent.

Player of the Game: Draymond Green. Green is the Spartans do it all power/point forward and he did it all in this one, finishing with 16 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

Up next for Michigan State: Louisville

#1 North Carolina vs. #8 Creighton MIDWEST REGION

Final Score: 87-73 North Carolina

Observations:

- North Carolina and Creighton both like to run, but North Carolina does it much better. I thought the Blue Jays should have tried to make it a half-court game.

- When it was apparent that Creighton could not guard the Tar Heels one-on-one, I thought they should have tried a zone defense to see if they could slow them down. They never did, and man to man never really worked.

- John Henson was outstanding in his return from a wrist injury. Henson was a force defensively, blocking four shots and causing Doug McDermott to miss a lot of shots he usually makes.

- Shortly after the game, the UNC basketball’s official Twitter account tweeted: “Marshall has a fracture in his right wrist. Status for rest of tournament is unknown.”

- If Kendall is Marshall is done for the tournament, you can kiss those National Championship dreams goodbye. UNC can still beat Ohio without him, but after that would be Kansas/Purdue or NC State, and after that could be Syracuse or Ohio State and you might play Kentucky in the final game. Marshall’s backup, Stillman White (2 points, 1 assist today), is just a freshman and usually just plays a few minutes in order to spell Marshall.

- Creighton may have lost today, but they have many key starters coming back, including All American Doug McDermott, big man Gregory Echenique and forward Grant Gibbs. If they can earn themselves a better seed next year, they could have a long tournament run in 2013.

Key Stats:

- Nine blocks from North Carolina.

- UNC was 50 percent from the field and from behind the arc.

- All five Tar Heel starters scored in double digits.

Pink Shoes: You may have noticed that Gregory Echenique was wearing some bright pink shoes today. He wears them every game in honor of Greg McDermott’s wife, who has battled breast cancer.

Player of the Game: John Henson. Henson’s defense was the difference in the game. He also scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Up next for North Carolina: Ohio

#7 Florida vs. #15 Norfolk State WEST REGION

Final Score: 84-50 Florida

Observations:

- This one was never in doubt. At one point in the first half, it was 29-6 in favor of the Gators.

Key Stats:

- Kyle O’Quinn, who had a double-double against Missouri, only had four points and three rebounds.

- Norfolk State shot shot just 27 percent.

Luck of the Irish:  You have to wonder if Kyle O’Quinn might have had a better game if this game was played on St. Patrick’s Day. I have no idea if he has any Irish ancestry, but any little thing could have helped today.

Player of the Game: Kenny Boynton. Boynton scored 20 points, had four assists, and pulled down 8 boards. A great overall game.

Up next for Florida: Marquette