Saturday was chugging along, nice and slowly, with the first five games decided by an average of 21.4 points. Then Butler lost in heartbreaking fashion. Then Gonzaga became the first No. 1 seed to fall this year. And suddenly, a sleepy day began overflowing with phenomenal basketball.
Here’s a quick, GIF-heavy recap of what the final day of the second round brought.
Best upset: Further proving the selection committee wrong for giving it a miserable draw and a dangerously low seed, No. 12 Oregon obliterated No. 4 Saint Louis 74-57, earning the Pacific-12 champs their first Sweet 16 bid since 2007. Even with point guard Dominic Artis shooting 0 for 7 from the field, the Ducks got 23 points and five three-pointers from Damyean Dotson and 16 rebounds from jack-of-all-trades forward Arsalan Kazemi.
Best finish: After a relatively boring day of yawners, Butler-Marquette was about six five-hour energy drinks crammed into a single second half. Rotnei Clarke air-balled a three-pointer. Then Marquette botched the inbounds, giving Brad Stevens one last chance to draw up the game-tying or game-winning play. Except Andrew Smith got his feet crossed up on the final play, forcing an off-balance three-pointer that came nowhere close to the rim.
Everyone expects these dramatics from Butler, but what about the Golden Eagles?
Each of Marquette’s last 8 games have been decided by 8 points or fewer #nailbiters
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 24, 2013
Best game that doesn’t fall into any other category: How about those Shockers, shocking Gonzaga? Who could have anticipated it? Wichita State was a 33 percent three-point shooting team entering this game, but drained 14 of 26 from beyond the arc. It became just the fifth No. 9 seed to ever reach the Sweet Sixteen.
Best unamused Hall of Famer GIF:
Best anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better: Memphis’ D.J. Stephens and Michigan State’s Adreian Payne swap thunderous blocks. Whose was better?
Worst play: Silly Russ Smith. This isn’t how you layup.
Best performance: Aside from the aforementioned missed bunny, Smith was brilliant. After the game, Coach Rick Pitino called him the best player in the country, which isn’t really a stretch given how well the point guard is playing. Smith shot 7 for 15 from the field, 4 for 7 on three-pointers and 9 for 10 from the free throw line. He scored a game-high 27 points and is averaging 25 per game during the NCAA tournament. Colorado State didn’t play particularly bad, but the Rams had no shot against this Cardinals buzzsaw.
Worst blowout: It was a yawn-filled day of chalk ruling the show, from Michigan’s 25-point rout of VCU — a strong candidate for “best performance” given all the hype surrounding Coach Shaka Smart’s vaunted “Havoc” defense — to Michigan State trouncing Memphis by 22.
Best “seriously?” stat: Per Nate Silver, this is the first time ever that Michigan and Michigan State have reached the Sweet Sixteen in the same season.
Best fan: Colorado State’s Happy Dancing Ram Fan, in a resounding blowout.
Saddest fan: Come on back to the podium, my friend.
Most dance: No contest.
Most disapproving mascot: Sparty. Most confusing mascot: Whatever a Wushock is.
Oh. It’s this.
— Paige Powers (@PaigePowers6) March 24, 2013
Requisite Charles Barkley reference: Asks, “Where the hell is Florida Gulf Coast?”
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