The hits just keep coming. The first weekend of the NCAA tournament was jaw-dropping. Two No. 1 seeds are gone, one in a historic fashion, and there is a guarantee that at least a No. 3 seed will be in the championship game. The upcoming Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds may match the excitement level seen already. Upsets and blowouts have made this tournament the most memorable in a long time.
Cinderella teams may not have won their second games, but made such a splash in the first round that all analysts and experts are scratching their heads trying to pick a clear winner. The West Region was no exception to this as the defending champion 2-seed North Carolina Tar Heels were soundly defeated by the 7-seed Texas A&M Aggies. Yet, not to be outdone, the 9-seed Florida State Seminoles knocked off 1-seed Xavier in a back and forth matchup.
NCAA Tournament: Storylines in Round Two of the West Region
Texas A&M Dethrones Champion North Carolina
It is one thing to manage an upset with a buzzer beater or a well-executed game-plan in the final minutes, but this tournament has seen nearly 20 point wins in major upsets. That is exactly what the Aggies did in the second round with a dominant 86-65 victory. Although their regular season play was marred by injuries, their recent games have shown great talent levels. In the game against the Tar Heels, they used a huge 15-0 scoring run to get out in front in the first half and never look back. The Aggies can score nearly at will with penetration and kick outs to hit corner threes. This seems simplistic, but each time they collapse the defense, they run back down the court with points. The Aggies will look to continue this into the next round against the Michigan Wolverines.
Michigan Sneaks by Houston on a Buzzer-Beater
There are not too many times that a team can shoot poorly and walk out with a victory. Sometimes the shots fall and sometimes a team needs one shot to win. The 3-seed Michigan Wolverines shot a measly 35.6 percent from the field but were one-for-one on game winners. Down by two, Michigan freshman Jordan Poole drained a contested three-pointer to win the game and knock out the 6-seed Houston Cougars. Any coach does not expect to repeat poor shooting games, but that luck may just run out against Texas A&M.
Gonzaga Surges Late to Advance
With North Carolina eliminated, the 4-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs look to return to the National Championship and finally claim that title. The Bulldogs are consistently in the tournament, not missing an entry since 1999. They now look to be the favorite moving on. In the last round the 5-seed Ohio State Buckeyes gave them a tough game, but overall could not match the Bulldogs offensive presence. The strong point of their game is just the relentlessness of attacks on offense, which really alters the momentum in big tournament games. This will be a necessary tool in a matchup against the 9-seeded Florida State Seminoles.
Florida State Rallies to Defeat Number One Xavier
Down 12 with 10:42 left in the game, the Seminoles had to battle back to their first lead of the night with 1:08 remaining against the 1-seed Xavier Musketeers. A three-pointer sealed the win and marked another upset in this tournament. The Seminoles struggled early against opponents last weekend and hope to change that heading into the next round. The offense must be ready to match what the Gonzaga Bulldogs can do or else the margin of victory could be out of hand early. Although this tournament has seen some phenomenal games thus far, anything is possible.
With two more weekends left in this NCAA tournament, there are still historic possibilities. The West Region could take a high seeded team to the Final Four. Nonetheless, a new champion will be crowned and the possibility that a team higher than an 8-seed could win the title. An 8-seed is the highest to win the tournament, which Villanova did in 1985. The “Cinderella” teams are still at-large and there are plenty of giants to topple. With only two number one seeds remaining and their potential clash in the Final Four, the path opens up for literally anyone. What will happen next in the West Region?