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March 19th, 2017

2017 NCAA Tournament Day Three: Villanova goes down as Madness is sustained

Justin Hodges @HodgepodgeHoops
2017 NCAA Tournament

Trevon Bluiett #5 of the Xavier Musketeers looks to pass against Phil Cofer #0 of the Florida State Seminoles in the second half during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (Source: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

After nearly no upsets happened in day one of the 2017 NCAA tournament, day two brought us some more shocking results. Now on the first day of the Round of 32 the full madness of March has sustained itself in the NCAA Tournament with two shocking upsets. One being an absolute thriller, the other not so much.

The day started with West Virginia gaining a convincing victory over 5 seeded Notre Dame 83-71 behind a star performance from Jevon Carter whom had 24 points along with Daxter Miles Jr’s 18. Another 4-5 matchup pitted the Florida Gators against the Virginia Cavaliers, a game in which Florida dominated 65-39. After settling for an NIT birth a year ago, Mike White in his second season coaching at Florida has the Gators back in the Sweet Sixteen.

Now for the upset that everyone was waiting for. A big question, as always, for the NCAA Tournament is which illustrious one seed would be the first to fall. This year, it was the defending national champions. The overall number one seed and national title favorite, the Villanova Wildcats fell mercy to Wisconsin 65-62. It was an incredible game, one which the Badgers had huge plays from seniors Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes in the final minutes. Wisconsin is headed to their fourth consecutive Sweet 16, while Villanova has their chances at a repeat diminished.

The other upset came in a game that was much less down to the wire, but perhaps even more surprising. Xavier, an 11 seed in this tournament, after losing Edmond Sumner in January looked as if they may not even make the tournament after a hit start to the season. They made it as an at large after beating Butler in the Big East Tournament, beat 6 seed Maryland in round one, then went in and absolutely annihilated 3 seed Florida State 91-66. Trevon Blueitt, an emerging star for the Musketeers, led the way with 29 points.

2017 NCAA Tournament

Josh Perkins #13, Przemek Karnowski #24, Silas Melson #0 and Nigel Williams-Goss #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs look on against the Northwestern Wildcats during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. ( Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

While others may not have lost their games, other top seeded teams struggled throughout the day. After leading by 20 in the first half, Gonzaga nearly had Cinderella darling Northwestern come back on them. Gonzaga managed to get away with a 79-73 victory. Arizona had to grudge out a tough 69-60 win over St. Mary’s team that is always strong, and Butler was able to walk out with a 74-65 win over Middle Tennessee State. All three will play in the Sweet Sixteen, but it was far from easy.

On a day filled with thrillers, the best game of the day had to be the 4-5 matchup of Purdue and Iowa State. After trailing by 19 points, the Cyclones made an outstanding comeback to take the lead late in the game. However, the incredible play of Caleb Swanigan and Vincent Edwards down the final stretches of the game sealed the deal for Purdue 80-76. Swanigan put together his 28th double-double of what has been an elite season, and was three assists shy of a triple-double in the game.

So after the top four seeds in each region went undefeated in the Round of 64, both a one and a three seed drops out on the first day of the Round of 32. Three of the Sweet Sixteen matchups of the 2017 NCAA Tournament are already set, and the rest await to be settled later today.

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