1. The Jayhawks get by Seton Hall to advance to the Sweet Sixteen
KU defeated the Seton Hall Pirates, 83-79, on Saturday. Seton Hall hit some late threes to make the score a little closer than the game actually was, however. Before we go into the stats for Kansas, I have to tip my cap to Angel Delgado. He dropped 24 points and 23 rebounds on the Jayhawks. Delgado had nine offensive rebounds while the rest of his team had ten total rebounds. Very impressive, sir.
Now, let’s talk about KU. Malik Newman led the way with 28 points, going 4-of-8 from three, and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. Newman hit a ton of clutch down the stretch to clinch the win for Kansas. Since the start of the Big 12 tournament, Newman is averaging over 20 points per night out. That’s something KU will need more of if they’re going to get to the Final Four. Svi Mykhailiuk scored 16 points, on 2-0f-5 from three. Svi really showed off his ability to drive the ball in this game, finishing with tough layups and floaters time-and-again.
Lagerald Vick scored 13 points, going 3-of-4 from behind the arc. Vick is another guy KU is going to need if they’re going to make a deep tourney run. He’s been mediocre for much of the season, but if he can get it going now, Kansas can go that much further. Lastly, Udoka Azubuike finished with ten points and seven rebounds. Udoka played really for a guy who hasn’t played more than three minutes in over a week. Kansas marches on to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year.
2. Kansas vs. Clemson Sweet 16 Preview
Clemson destroyed four-seed Auburn 84-53 in their round of 32 win. They’re not a big team in the slightest; their tallest player is 6’9″. The Tigers have four players that average over 10 points per game in guards Marcquise Reed, Gabe Devoe, and Shelton Mitchell, and forward Elijah Thomas. Clemson is a good team with good guards. The Tigers average 73.5 points per game, 35.3 rebounds, and 8.2 made threes per contest. Those are all pretty average numbers. They do their work defensively, where they are a top-30 team nationally in points allowed. They have wins against Ohio State, Florida, NC State, Miami, North Carolina, and Florida State. That’s a good resume, except that just one of those teams are still in the tournament.
No Jayhawk fan should fear Clemson. I really don’t want to pull a Ryan here and say that Clemson is the perfect matchup or anything, but Kansas is a better team. Clemson can beat KU, I just don’t think they will. And I would have said the same thing about Auburn. I don’t think they have what it takes to beat Kansas. Prediction: KU wins 78-68.
(Ed. Note: Thanks, Landen.)
3. The most interesting games of the Sweet 16
#7 Nevada vs #11 Loyola-Chicago, March 22nd 6:07 pm CT. Two teams on absolute miracle runs duking it out for a birth in the Elite Eight. Loyola has needed two baskets in the final ten seconds to defeat Miami and Tennessee, while Nevada has used huge comebacks to take down Texas and Cincinnati. Both teams have great guard play and loads of confidence. Prediction: Loyola wins 72-70.
#2 Duke vs #11 Syracuse, March 23rd, 8:37 pm CT. Syracuse’s zone completely shut down both TCU and Michigan State, while Duke has scored 87+ in both of their two wins. Duke is the scariest team left in the dance in my opinion, but the Syracuse zone is pretty scary too. These teams faced off last month with Duke coming away with the low-scoring victory. Prediction: Duke wins 67-60.
#2 Purdue vs #3 Texas Tech, March 23rd, 8:57 pm CT. Purdue doesn’t have their Isaac Haas, which is a big deal against a Texas Tech team who can rebound. Keenan Evans is as good a point guard as there is in the country. The Purdue backcourt isn’t too bad either though. Prediction: Texas Tech wins 74-67.
#1 Villanova vs #5 West Virginia, March 23rd, 6:27 pm CT. A team that presses against a team that buries threes. Sign me up. Nova’s eyes (And Kansas and Duke’s) must be as big as dinner plates, seeing what the other half of the bracket looks like. West Virginia might be the only team that can stop Villanova from making threes, but I’m not sure if even that’s possible. Prediction: Villanova wins 81-72.
4. UMBC makes history
What a performance by the UMBC Retrievers. They became the first 16 seed in men’s division one basketball to defeat a one seed, and they did it by 20 points. Not only did they win, but they dominated. Also the UMBC Athletics twitter page went from five thousand followers to 109 thousand over two days, and the account manager is one of my new favorite people. Congrats UMBC! You made history.
Landen Fields is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. You can check out his archive here.