NCAA Tournament Review
After one weekend of the NCAA Tournament, the Southeastern Conference was almost entirely eliminated from the field. Vanderbilt lost in blowout fashion to Wichita State, and the Commodores failed to reach the field of 64. Kentucky and Texas A&M both won opening round games against Stony Brook and Green Bay, respectively.
In the round of 32, Indiana knocked off Kentucky 73-67. It was the first time one of John Calipari’s Kentucky teams had failed to reach at least the Elite 8 during his tenure in Lexington.
Texas A&M’s second round game included one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA Tournament history. The Aggies trailed Northern Iowa for the majority of the game, and they were down 12 points with 35 seconds remaining. The Panthers turned the ball over four times in 30 seconds, and Texas A&M quickly erased the deficit to force overtime. It was a spectacular comeback and an unfathomable collapse, and the Aggies went on to win the game 92-88 in double overtime.
Aggie head coach Billy Kennedy is making his first appearance in the Sweet 16, and Texas A&M will be looking to reach the Elite 8 for the first time in school history when they take on Oklahoma. If the Aggies knock off the Sooners, they will meet either Oregon or Duke in the Elite 8.
Other Sweet 16 matchups include No. 1 Kansas vs. 5 Maryland, No. 2 Villanova vs. 3 Miami, No. 1 Oregon vs. 4 Duke, No. 2 Oklahoma vs. 3 Texas A&M, No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Indiana, No. 6 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Iowa State and No. 10 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Gonzaga.
The SEC’s stay in the NIT was also short-lived. After Alabama’s early exit in the opening round to Creighton, Georgia lost to St. Mary’s, 77-65, in the second round. The Bulldogs finished the season 20-14. It was the third consecutive season Mark Fox has won at least 20 games in Athens.
South Carolina won 25 games this season – which tied the school record – but the Gamecocks’ season came to an unceremonious conclusion after an 83-66 home loss to Georgia Tech. South Carolina had a great season and exceeded preseason expectations. If the Gamecocks had a more difficult non-conference schedule, they might have reached the NCAA Tournament. Next season, head coach Frank Martin will look to take USC back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.
Florida’s season came to a close in the NIT quarterfinals after an 82-77 loss at George Washington. The Gators were a No. 2 seed but were forced to play all three NIT games on the road due to renovations to the O’Connell Center. Flo-rida defeated North Florida and Ohio State in the first two rounds, and head coach Mike White finished his inaugural season at 21-14.
The NIT Final Four will consist of Valparaiso, BYU, George Washington and San Diego State.