After the excellence of last night’s games, the hope was that it would continue onto day two of the Sweet 16. That didn’t quite come to fruition, but it did set up a bit of new blood Elite Eight with none of the remaining eight coaches having won a national championship. Of those eight coaches, only one of them coaches at a school with a National Championship (UConn). We’re once again recapping the games of the night and although the games themselves weren’t close, exciting games like last night, the upsets they provided somewhat made up for it. The 2023 NCAA Tournament has been weird to say the least, now let’s dive into what happened in tonight’s games.
No. San Diego State: 71 vs No. 1 Alabama: 64
Our third one seed of the tournament falls as Alabama bows out of the tournament after giving up a second-half lead to the Aztecs. Alabama was the favorite in the tournament not only as the number one overall seed but their entire side of the bracket had basically collapsed. Within their region they only had to beat a five seed in San Diego State and then a six or fifteen seed in Creighton or Princeton to advance to the Final Four. After that the East region saw both the one and two seeds not even make the second weekend, setting up a theoretical cakewalk to the National Championship. But that’s not how March works and as we’ve seen repeatedly in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, expect the unexpected.
ALABAMA HAS FALLEN! San Diego State is in the Elite 8 for the first time EVER #MarchMadness
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) March 25, 2023
San Diego State showed great toughness throughout this game. They held Alabama to just 23 points at halftime and took a five-point lead into the half without contributions from their best player Matt Bradley. It looked like they were about to let it get away as Bama had a strong charge coming out of half and took the lead quickly. Bama looked ready to run away with things, extending their lead to nine points but the toughness of SDSU showed through and they took the lead right back with just under nine minutes to go. They never let Alabama regain the lead back and held off any comeback attempt the Crimson Tide tried to lead. Brandon Miller had another tough game capping off a difficult NCAA Tournament for the star freshman. San Diego State now reaches its first-ever Elite Eight with the chance to really improve on the school’s best-ever season on Sunday night.
No. 5 Miami: 89 vs No. 1 Houston
NIJEL PACK IS COOKING!! 7 made threes tonight #MarchMadness
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) March 25, 2023
The last of the remaining one seeds has now fallen and with that history has been made in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. For the first time ever not a single one seed will be a part of the Elite Eight. Miami was excellent, especially Nigel Pack in taking down Houston and leading Miami to their second straight Elite Eight. Houston survived a scare last week with Auburn but couldn’t quite mount the comeback vs a Miami team with a more explosive offense. This loss also continues an ugly trend over the past few years of Kelvin Sampson losing to teams seeded eighth and above. They didn’t beat a team seeded lower than 10th on their Final Four run in 2021 and now move to 0-4 vs teams seeded 8 or better and 9-0 vs teams seeded 9th or worse.
On the other hand, Miami showed exactly why they are capable of winning the whole thing with their guard play. Nigel Pack and Isaiah Wong are as deadly a combo in the backcourt as any team in the country has. The two each went for at least 20 points tonight and Pack hit 7 threes against an excellent Houston defense. Jim Larranaga continues to be an excellent coach and is on the brink of his second Final Four appearance as a coach. He’ll go against Texas on Sunday with a berth to Houston on the line.
No. 6 Creighton: 86 vs No. 15 Princeton: 75
Creighton should have taken care of business from start to finish. Princeton was pesky and didn’t make things easy for a good chunk of this game to start but eventually, the talent of Creighton was able to overwhelm Princeton and allow Creighton to cruise to the school’s first-ever Elite Eight. Princeton was unable to get to a place any other 15 seed has been in making the Elite Eight but the run will be memorable nonetheless. Upsetting Arizona, a team many thoughts was championship worthy is still one of the games of the tournament before embarrassing Missouri in the second round. Creighton though seems to be peaking at just the right time and cashing in on the promise many thought they’d have when so many of their guys from last year decided to return. They were close to upsetting eventual national champions Kansas in the second round last year and now find themselves just a game from the Final Four. They luckily avoid Alabama, the number one overall seed but do face a tough San Diego State team that will be an absolute battle on Sunday night.
No. 2 Texas: 83 vs No. 3 Xavier: 71
The toughness of Texas was just too much for Xavier basically from the start of this game. Xavier struggled to finish around the rim and Texas made sure every shot was contested. Texas meanwhile got whatever they wanted on the offensive end and quickly jumped out to a 34-18 lead and never looked back. Xavier was never able to cut the lead to single digits and the offense never quite clicked as it did vs Pittsburgh. The defense that has been such a problem for them most of the year couldn’t get the stops necessary to get back in the game even when they were able to make shots on a hand full of possessions in a row.
Texas since their loss to TCU near the end of the regular season has looked like a team on a mission and has yet to lose. Something clicked for them after that loss and the offense has caught up with the defense. The chemistry looks impeccable as well and they play with such confidence and a swagger that rubs teams the wrong way in all the right ways. They are on the tougher side of the bracket but it would be no surprise to see them playing on Monday night in early April a week from this upcoming Monday. The night started with upsets but ended with chalk and sets us up with our final eight teams of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.