Although the Southeastern Conference only received three bids to the NCAA Tournament, the league fared relatively well during the first weekend of games.
Florida dominated both Northwestern State and Minnesota to each the Sweet 16 for the third straight year. The Gators lost in the Elite 8 in each of the last two seasons. Billy Donovan’s team faces Flo-rida Gulf Coast, which is the first No. 15 seed to ever make the Sweet 16. Florida should get by the Eagles to reach the Elite 8, where the Gators face the winner of the Michigan-Kansas game.
Ole Miss won the SEC tournament and received a No. 12 seed for the NCAA tournament. Although the Rebels were underdogs against No. 5 seed Wisconsin in the second round, they were able to shut down the Badger offense en route to a 57-46 victory. It was the first NCAA tournament win for Ole Miss since 2001, and the first for head coach Andy Kennedy. In the third round, the Rebels faced No. 13 seed La Salle, who upset Kansas State in the second round. The game was highly contested throughout, but the Explorers prevailed after hitting a shot with less than three seconds remaining in the second half. Ole Miss finished the season 27-9 overall.
Missouri faced Colorado State in the Tigers opening round game. For the second straight year, Frank Haith’s team lost their first game of the tournament. The Rams dominated the Tigers in every phase of the game, but the biggest difference in the game was Missouri’s inability to rebound. The Tigers were inconsistent all season long, and especially struggled to win away from home. Missouri finished 23-11 on the season.
Outside the SEC, the NCAA Tournament was incredibly unpredictable. There were numerous second-round upsets, including No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast over No. 2 Georgetown and No. 14 Harvard over No. 3 New Mexico. Louisville looked like the best team during the first weekend, but the Cardinals’ path to the Final Four is far from easy.
Louisville 78, Oregon 70
Michigan State 65, Duke 62
Louisville 74, Michigan State 67
Wichita State 71, La Salle 68
Ohio State 67, Arizona 61
Ohio State 73, Wichita State 65
Kansas 72, Michigan 66
Florida 81, Florida Gulf Coast 65
Florida 75, Kansas 70
Indiana 77, Syracuse 73
Miami 62, Marquette 57
Indiana 76, Miami 67
Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky all made the National Invitational Tournament. The Volunteers and the Wildcats both lost in the first round to inferior opponents. Alabama easily defeated Northeastern, 62-43, in the first round. In the second round, the Crimson Tide beat Stanford 66-54. Anthony Grant’s team squared off against Maryland on Tuesday night (Mar. 26) for a NIT final four berth and a trip to Madison Square Garden. Despite having an impressive crowd on hand, the Crimson Tide lost to the Terrapins 58-57. Alabama finished the year 23-13 overall.