The Round of 64 in the 2017 NCAA Tournament is officially in the books. In a first round that offered lots of entertainment but not a lot of purely shocking moments, the top teams just did not lose. Teams seeded 1-4 in each region went undefeated in the first round with an average margin of victory being close to 18 points per game.
North Carolina, Kansas, Louisville, Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, Oregon and Baylor all won in convincing fashion today to keep a perfect 18-0 record for the top teams in the tournament. Considering that 27 of the last 28 March Madness winners have been seeded 4th or better this speaks volume to how the rest of the tournament is likely to go.
The game of the second day happened to be the first game played, in which Big 10 Champion Michigan defeated Oklahoma State 92-91 in what was an absolute thriller. The Wolverines went an astonishing 16-29 from three-point range as both teams simply slugged it out until the final horn.
Day two was a struggle for six seed teams who went 1-2 against their 11 seed opponents, with the only win being Cincinnati’s 14 point win over Kansas State behind Troy Caupain’s 23 points. In the other two upsets, Rhode Island downed Creighton 84-72 and the USC Trojans, who had to play in a First Four just to get in, outlasted SMU 66-65 in a game that came down to the buzzer. With the other 6 seed being Maryland, who lost to Xavier Thursday night, the 6 seeds had to deal with a major curse this tournament.
Day two also served the SEC extremely well as all three teams won their games today. Kentucky took down Northern Kentucky behind big games from DeAaron Fox and Bam Adebayo, Arkansas went on a 7-0 scoring run in the final minute to take out Seton Hall in a thriller, and South Carolina won their first tournament game in 44 years by taking down Marquette. Florida’s win over East Tennessee State Thursday makes it to where four of the five SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament made it to the Round of 32.
Finally, two teams known for March Madness drama took care of business today. Tom Izzo and Michigan State showed us that the Spartans can never be taken lightly in March as they demolished a good Miami team by 20 points. Wichita State also held on to beat Dayton 64-58 to set up a Round of 32 matchup with Kentucky in what was a classic tournament game in 2014.