NCAA Tournament First Weekend Review
After one weekend, only one SEC team remains in the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky, the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed, cruised to easy victories over Hampton and Cincinnati. The Wildcats are 36-0 on the year and are the first team in NCAA history to become 36-0.
In the Sweet 16, Kentucky faces West Virginia. The Mountaineers defeated the Wildcats in John Calipari’s first season in Lexington back in 2010. Kentucky had future NBA stars John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, and DeMarcus Cousins on the roster but lost to West Virginia in the Elite Eight.
If Kentucky defeats West Virginia, the ‘Cats will take on the winner of Notre Dame and Wichita State in the Elite Eight. The Wildcats knocked off an undefeated Wichita State team in the second round of the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
The other four SEC teams that made the NCAA Tournament didn’t fare as well as the Nashville squad.
Arkansas, a No. 5 seed entering the tournament, defeated Wofford in its opening round game but lost to fourth seed North Carolina in the second round. It was the first time Mike Anderson made the NCAA Tournament as Arkansas’s head coach. The Razorbacks finished the season 27-9.
Georgia earned a No. 10 seed in the tournament, and the Bulldogs were matchup up with seventh seed Michigan State in the first round. It was the first time Mark Fox made the tournament with the Bulldogs. Though Georgia made a late comeback, it still fell to the Spartans. Georgia finished the year 21-12.
No. 9 seed LSU played about as well as it had all season against eighth seed N.C. State for about 55 mi-nutes in the opening round on Mar. 19. The Tigers even led by 17 points in the second half. However, the Wolfpack made an impressive comeback late in the game and LSU couldn’t seem to buy a bucket down the stretch. N.C. State advanced on a last-second shot to end LSU’s season at 22-11.
Ole Miss just barely made the NCAA Tournament and was forced to play BYU in a play-in game in Dayton. The Rebels were down 17 at the half, but an impressive second half gave them a 94-90 win over the Cougars. Ole Miss played sixth seed Xavier in the first round, and the first half followed the same script of the BYU game. In the second half, the Musketeers continued to make shots, and the Rebels remained cold from behind the arc. Ole Miss finished the season 21-13.
Other SEC news
* Alabama’s season ended at 19-15 after a 73-66 loss to Miami in the NIT. The Crimson Tide are still searching for a replacement for former head coach Anthony Grant.
* Vanderbilt’s season ended in the NIT quarterfinals. The Commodores lost 78-75 at Stanford and finished the season 21-14.
* Texas A&M’s season also came to a close, as the Aggies lost to Louisiana Tech, 84-72, in the second round of the NIT. The Aggies finished the season 21-12.
* Mississippi State hired former UCLA coach Ben Howland as head coach earlier this week. Howland replaces Rick Ray, who was fired after three seasons in Starkville. At UCLA, Howland made three consecutive Final Four’s and one national title game, where the Bruins lost to Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators.