March Madness 2019: Best and worst from Day 2 of the NCAA tournament

Friday may have only given us five games that were decided by fewer than five points, but it also gave us five double-digit seeds advancing to the second round. So, you know, count your blessings, not your problems.

Here’s everything you need to know from the 16 games that made up day two of the 2019 NCAA tournament.

The 3 Best Day 2 Games

1. (11) Ohio State 62, (6) Iowa State 59 (Midwest)

Another day without an obvious classic leads to this pretty good, but not overly spectacular, late night 6 vs. 11 tilt occupying the top spot.

Ohio State led by two at the break and controlled most of the second half before a spirited Iowa State rally gave the Cyclones an opportunity to send the game to overtime. Nick Weiler-Babb’s open three-pointer in the closing seconds found nothing but iron, and the Buckeyes moved on to the second round for the second time in as many years under Chris Holtmann.

This marked the third time in the last five years that Iowa State has entered the NCAA tournament fresh off the momentum of a Big 12 tournament title. In those three years, the Cyclones have now won a grand total of one game in the Big Dance. The amount of bracket filler-outers they’ve pissed off over that span is that number times about a billion.

2. (12) Liberty 80, (5) Mississippi State 76 (East)

Caleb Homesley dropped 30 points and hit a go-ahead three 1:16 to play to carry Liberty to its first NCAA tournament win in program history. The Atlantic Sun champions had been to the tournament three times before, losing twice as a 16-seed in the first round, and once as a 16-seed in the First Four.

After leading by two at halftime, Mississippi State appeared to take control of the game midway through the second half. The Bulldogs built a 63-53 lead, but then Homesley took command of the contest. He scored 14 points in less than five minutes, turning that 10-point deficit into a 2-point lead before anyone could get a handle on what had happened.

The 12th-best free-throw shooting team in the country entering Friday, Liberty calmly sank eight free-throws in the final minute to salt away the biggest win in program history.

3. (13) UC Irvine 70, (4) Kansas State 64 (South)

Tennessee-Belmont and Iowa-Cincinnati both have decent claims to the final spot here, but we’ve gotta go with, statistically, the biggest upset of the tournament so far.

After a back and forth opening 30 minutes, UC Irvine went on a 12-0 run midway through the second half and then held off a late charge from Kansas State to secure the first NCAA tournament win in program history. The Anteaters’ only previous trip to the dance was in 2015, where, playing in another 13 vs. 4 game, they let a late lead slip away in what would ultimately be a heartbreaking 57-55 loss to Louisville.

The win was the 17th straight for UC Irvine, which improved to 31-5. Only Wofford, which faces Kentucky in a second round matchup on Saturday, has a longer active winning streak.

For Kansas State, the upset loss was a brutal end to a season that had so much promise. Bruce Webber returned just about every key piece from a team that made the Elite Eight a year ago, and as a result, the Wildcats began 2018-19 as the No. 12 team in the AP poll. Despite some ups and downs, K-State ultimately won a share of the Big 12 regular season title, just its second conference championship of any sort since 1980. Now their season is over after a one-and-done effort in the tournament for the first time since 2014.

The 3 Teams That Won It The Best

1. Oklahoma

Oklahoma saved its most impressive performance of the season for its season’s most important game. The Sooners scored a season-high 95 points and shot their second-highest field goal percentage (58.0 percent) in a 23-point stomping of 8th-seeded Ole Miss. Not bad for an OU team that entered the tournament ranked 196th in the country in effective field goal percentage.

It’s strange to think that Oklahoma’s most impressive postseason offensive effort of the last five years came via one of the teams that didn’t feature Buddy Hield or Trae Young.

2. Oregon

For the second straight day we had a 12-seed not just beat a 5-seed, but dismantle them.

A meaningless three-pointer at the buzzer by Wisconsin’s Walt McGrory is the only thing that kept this game from featuring the largest margin of victory ever for a 12-seed over a 5. The record still resides with Eastern Michigan, which beat Mississippi State by 20 in 1991. Murray State came up one basket shy of breaking the record itself on Thursday in its 83-64 beatdown of Marquette.

3. Houston

Against what on paper appeared to be a dangerous Georgia State squad, Houston looked like a team a lot of people are going to wind up wishing they rode further in their brackets. The Cougars held the typically high-scoring Panthers to just 30.0 percent shooting from the field, and rolled to a dominant 84-55 win.

Not that Kelvin Sampson was always pleased with the effort.

After going 34 years without a single win in the NCAA tournament, Houston has now advanced in back-to-back years. They seemed destined for the Sweet 16 a year ago before a string of missed free-throws and an answered prayer from Michigan’s Jordan Poole sent them packing. Twelve months later they’re going to be favored to take down Ohio State and advance to the tournament’s second weekend for the first time since Phi Slamma Jamma took the Coogs all the way to the national title game in 1984.

The 3 Biggest Disappointments

1. Kansas State

Yes, Dean Wade was out, and yes, UC Irvine was probably under-seeded at 13, but come on. You had to have seen this coming. If you’re the only team seeded better than fifth to lose in the first round, you’re going to wear the biggest disappointment crown.

2. Virginia

Yeah, I’m doing this.

While the rest of the world is pointing out the return of Virginia’s March nerves in one breath and praising the Cavaliers for having the mental fortitude to ultimately exorcise those demons in the next, we’re throwing them on the biggest disappointments list.

It’s not that I think Virginia showed signs of a forthcoming second round disappointment (I don’t), or that I don’t respect the Cavaliers for clearing a mental hurdle they collapsed over a year ago (I do). It’s the mere fact that we have to be having this conversation again that’s disappointing.

Virginia players had a full year of seeing every shitty UMBC joke that anyone with access to the internet could come up with. They responded by ripping every team in college basketball but Duke and Florida State (once) to shreds. And that’s the thing, we know this team is good. When your body of work is as extensive and overwhelming as UVA’s, there’s no counter-argument, there’s nothing tangible to point to that provides any sort of case for the opposition. So if you come out in the tournament and once again don’t look anything like the team we’ve seen for the past four months, there’s no explanation for it other than it being some weird March mind f—k, the exact tired narrative you’ve been waiting all year to dispel.

So naturally, Virginia comes out and falls behind Gardner-Webb by 14 points in the first half, tied for its largest deficit of the season. I get that Tony Bennett’s system doesn’t exactly lend itself to a curb-stomping opening segment, but these guys should have been ready to blitz — or their own personal form of “blitz” — whatever 16-seed was unlucky enough to draw them at the start of this March redemption tour. Instead, the memes came flying as if Jairus Lyles had never stopped raining threes.

It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, especially if Virginia looks like itself for a full 40 minutes against Oklahoma on Sunday. But this was supposed to be the debut of angry Virginia, of bad ass, done with your shit, hellbent on revenge Virginia. That it took so long for any hint of that identity to reveal itself was disappointing.

3. Utah State

You were probably thinking this spot was going to go to Wisconsin. Even though the Badgers were a 5-seed that got boatraced by Oregon, it seemed going into the tournament like the public felt better about Utah State’s chances to take care of its Pac-12 opponent than it did about the Badgers’ ability to handle theirs.

That faith was misplaced, as an Aggie team that was riding a 10-game winning streak and had been beaten just once since Jan. 9 put up next to no fight against a Washington team it was favored to beat by three. Losing an 8/9 game is one thing, but Utah State looking so clearly inferior from start to finish against an opponent that had just one win over a team in the field of 68 (and only because they lost to said team in the Pac-12 tournament title game by 20) was fairly stunning.

5 Day 2 Jeers

1. 6:44 p.m. to 6:50 p.m. (EST)

We went 13 minutes without a single basketball game in progress on Thursday, and six minutes without hoops on Friday. Some might call that progress, I call it horseshit.

Clean this up.

2. No great finishes

For the second straight day, we watched 16 games, and not one featured a really high quality, memorable finish. We’re not asking for three or four halfcourt buzzer-beaters, just give us at least one game-deciding moment that makes us stand up and yell. That’s all.

You have two days.

After two days we all start writing about the one-and-done rule again.

3. The Utah State-Washington crowd

Who are these monsters in the crowd that didn’t give more of an ovation for this?

Big Blue — that’s the name of Utah State’s mascot — walks across the entire g—damn court on his g—damn hands, and after this colossal feat of skill and strength, he gets treated like he just made the front end of a 1-and-1 in the middle of a 50-point blowout.

You people disgust me. You don’t deserve March.

4. First Four teams

For the first time since the advent of the First Four in 2011, no team that won its opening round game in Dayton went on to win at least one game in the main draw of the tournament. Arizona State got rocked by Buffalo, and North Dakota State was no match for overall No. 1 seed Duke. The best opportunity for a First Four team to advance came on Thursday, when Belmont fell to sixth-seeded Maryland by two.

5. Rapolas Ivanauskas’ eye issue

No. 15 seed Colgate went shot for shot with Tennessee for 38 minutes before Admiral Schofield ripped off a string of clutch shots and the Volunteers escaped with a 77-70 win. For the rest of their lives, every player on that Raider team is going to wonder what have happened if leading scorer Rapolas Ivanauskas had been able to play.

Ivanauskas started the game but looked out of sync during his 16 minutes on the floor. He missed all four of his field goal attempts and committed a pair of out of character turnovers. He also wouldn’t stop rubbing his eyes, and would have a towel draped over his head whenever he was on the bench.

Colgate v Tennessee

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Ivanauskas didn’t play in the second half, and continued to appear noticeably uncomfortable. The announcing crew originally reported that he was having an issue with his contact lenses, but after the game, Colgate head coach Matt Langel clarified that his star was suffering from pink eye.

“He woke up this morning, and it just wasn’t happening,” Langel said. “Your heart breaks for him.”

A forever March memory potentially ripped away by pink eye is just about the most frustrating story imaginable if you’re anyone associated with Colgate basketball.

5 Day 2 Cheers

1. Max Hazzard

With the first round of the tournament now in the books, Big West champion UC Irvine is the only team seeded higher than 12th still standing. The No. 13 seed Anteaters are still dancing thanks to a 70-64 upset of Kansas State in San Jose Thursday afternoon.

Arguably the biggest contributor to that upset was junior guard Max Hazzard, who tied for the team-high with 19 points, and hit multiple clutch three-pointers in the game’s biggest moments. All that’s well and good, but it was the way in which Hazzard handled himself throughout the day that solidified his spot on the cheers list.

First, Hazzard hit a three just before the halftime buzzer to tie the game at 30, and then without hesitation sprinted back to the locker room.

About an hour later, Hazzard hit an absolute dagger from the corner and then struck a pose.

Finally, Hazzard gave a postgame interview that made it overly apparent that knocking off Kansas State didn’t even come as a mild surprise to him.

Max Hazzard forever. He and the rest of the Anteaters now get 12th-seeded Oregon on Sunday with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.

2. The 12 seeds

Turns out the reports of the 12/5 upset’s demise had been greatly exaggerated.

The most famous (or infamous) upset in the NCAA tournament had happened just three times over the last four years, and 12 seeds were coming off an 0-for-4 performance in 2018. That trend evaporated over the last two days with three 12/5 upsets, including a pair that now rank second (Murray State over Marquette) and third (Oregon over Wisconsin) on the list of the most lopsided 12 over 5 wins of all-time. In all, the 12-seeds outscored their 5-seed counterparts by a combined score of 312-271.

This is the fifth time in tournament history that three 12-seeds have won in the same year. The Big Dance has never seen a clean sweep by the 12-seeds, something which would have occurred if New Mexico State had scored two more points against Auburn on Thursday.

3. The 16-seeds … for a half

The three No. 1 seeds out of the ACC all took the court on Friday. For all three, it took a half of basketball where they were thoroughly outclassed by their 16-seed counterpart before they woke up and played like they were deserving of being on the top line.

These were the halftime scores of the three 1 vs. 16 games on Friday.

(16) Gardner-Webb 36, (1) Virginia 30

(1) Duke 31, (16) North Dakota State 27

(16) Iona 38, (1) North Carolina 33

As expected, any dreams of back-to-back years with a top seed failing to win a game in the tournament were put to bed early in the second half of all three games. Even so, shouts to the 16-seeds for letting us all fire off some C- attempts at humor on Twitter, and for giving us way more entertainment than we were expecting coming into any of these games.

Gonzaga, for what it’s worth, led Fairleigh Dickinson 53-17 at the half on Thursday.

4. The Tacko dagger

Friday night, for the first time in college basketball history, we saw a 7’6 center make a shot that could justifiably be referred to as a “dagger.”

I assumed a healthy amount in the statement leading into that video. I can admit that. If you present me with factual proof of a 7’6 college basketball dagger that preceded Tacko’s within the next 24 hours, well, I’m going to ignore it because I don’t want to have to go back into this post and make any changes. It’s a whole thing and this weekend is busy enough as is.

Anyway, let’s keep our eyes on the bigger picture here: Now we get Zion Williamson vs. Tacko Fall on Sunday. It was one of the things we wanted to happen heading into the weekend, and it’s happening. Celebrate accordingly.

5. The Pac-12

As recently as a week ago, it seemed possible that the Pac-12 would be the first power conference since the tournament expanded to get just one team into the field. And even if they got two, there were many who were set to make the case that this was still the worst power conference in the history of college basketball.

With the league already having three tournament wins under its belt, that’s going to be a hard case to make now. Arizona State, which knocked off St. John’s in Dayton on Wednesday, had no answer for Buffalo on Friday, but Washington and Oregon both breezed past better-seeded teams in games their opponents were favored to win.

It’s not quite a redemption story for the league (at least not yet), but it’s certainly an effective counter-argument to any “worst ever” claims.

3 Best Day 2 Dunks

1. Kenny Wooten, Oregon

When Wisconsin tightened things up midway through the second half, Kenny got hot and put the Badgers to bed.

2. Robert Woodard, Mississippi State

Somehow, despite a billion pedestrian highlights being posted all over the internet, the only way to view Robert Woodard’s one-handed put-back dunk against Liberty is by viewing it on the NCAA’s official website. So you can do that here. It’s cool.

3. RJ Barrett, Duke

There wasn’t as much showtime as you would have expected going into a game featuring this Duke team against a 16-seed, but this was a nice moment.

3 Best Day 2 Images

1. R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson set a new Duke record for points by a freshman duo in an NCAA tournament game. They also combined for the best photo of March so far.

North Dakota State v Duke

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

2. Admiral Schofield’s clutch shooting in the final minutes hushed Colgate’s run at an upset.

Colgate v Tennessee

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

3. Max Hazzard sank Kansas State with a corner three dagger, and then wanted to let the moment marinate for a second

UC Irvine v Kansas State

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

5 Notable Quotes From Day 2

“I think this year you saw the growth of this team. Nobody panicked. Last year it was like, ‘Oh shit, this may happen.’ We all panicked. This year we were like, ‘Oh shit, this is going to happen again,’ but nobody panicked.” —Virginia G Kyle Guy

”UC Irvine folks live in the shadows. Live like little brothers to UCLA and SC and maybe some others — Cal, Stanford, San Diego State. Well, little brother has been in the weight room, getting better, getting ready for a chance like this. So I’m really happy for these players to be able to work so hard for something everybody can see and then accomplish it. But I’m also really excited for the fans of our program who also seem to have endured feeling like little brothers. You know, we need to stick our chests out a little bit right now, I believe.” —UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner

“I won’t allow it. I won’t allow him to put me on one of his highlight tapes.” —UCF center Tacko Fall on facing Duke’s Zion Williamson in round two

“Probably the thing I despise more than anything in basketball or in life is somebody trying to be cool.” —North Carolina head coach Roy Williams trying to explain his team’s lackadaisical performance in the first half against Iona

“He definitely crossed parts of my mind a few times. I wish that he was here. But I hope he’s proud of me.” —UC Irvine’s Collin Welp on his father, Christian Welp, who was a standout at Washington and played three seasons in the NBA. He passed away in 2015.

Full Saturday Schedule

We’re still far from finished. (all times EST)

  • East: No. 3 LSU vs. No. 6 Maryland, 12:10 p.m. (CBS)
  • Midwest: No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 7 Wofford, 2:40 p.m.* (CBS)
  • West: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 10 Florida, 5:15 p.m. (CBS)
  • West: No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 12 Murray State, 6:10 p.m. (TNT)
  • West: No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Baylor, 7:10 p.m. (TBS)
  • East: No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Minnesota, 7:45 p.m.* (CBS)
  • South: No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 6 Villanova, 8:40 p.m.* (TNT)
  • Midwest: No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 5 Auburn, 9:40 p.m.* (TBS)

*game time approximated

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