Sweet 16 Recap: Friday March 25

Two great games and two lopsided games to bring us to 8 teams. The games today were not as exciting as last night’s games but still provided plenty of storylines and entertainment.

#7 South Carolina Destroys #3 Baylor

Final Score: 70-50

Headline: What in tarnation?

MVP: Sindarius Thornwell (24 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals)

What in tarnation? South Carolina did not beat Baylor, they destroyed the Bears in all aspects of the game. Sindarius Thornwell did Sindarius Thornwell things with his all around game. He had twice as many points as the second leading scorer for the Gamecocks. South Carolina allowed Jonathan Motley to score getting 18 points but no other Baylor player achieved double digits in the scoring column. This was a blowout at halftime and South Carolina did not let up in the second half. Frank Martin’s team is playing exceptionally and will look to continue their hot streak with a chance to go to the Final Four on Sunday.

#1 UNC Beats #4 Butler

Final Score: 92-80

Headline: UNC Does UNC Things

MVP: Joel Berry (26 points, 2 assists)

The score does not do this game justice. UNC was ahead by more than 15 for most of the game before Butler made a late run when the game was no longer in doubt. Looking at the stats shows this to be an average North Carolina game. They knocked down a decent amount of deep shots at an average rate of 35%, they out rebounded their opponent, and Joel Berry filled it up. Happy to see the  Tar Heel point guard back to being healthy after dealing with an ankle injury last weekend. The Tar Heels played their game and that formula punched their ticket to the Elite 8. They will play Kentucky for a chance to go to the Final Four.

#2 Kentucky Beats #3 UCLA

Final Score: 86-75

Headline: De’Aaron Fox > Lonzo Ball

MVP: De’Aaron Fox (39 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists)

De’Aaron Fox was sick of your “Lonzo Ball is amazing” takes. He put on a show in Memphis with 39 points. Kentucky held UCLA to 75 points which is an accomplishment given what the Bruins have done this season on the offensive end of the floor. Once Thomas Welsh got into foul trouble it seemed to go downhill as the other UCLA bigs struggled to keep protect the rim and keep Derek Willis off the glass. Fox and Monk carried the bulk of the scoring combing for 60 points while Dominque Hawkins came off the bench to pour in 11 points. UCLA did not have the giddy up in the second half to get on a run and Kentucky stayed in control of the game. The Bruins looked defeated well before the game was decided. Kentucky will go on to face fellow blue blood North Carolina in another rematch of a non conference game that Kentucky won earlier this season.

#4 Florida Outlasts #8 Wisconsin

Final Score: 84-83 OT

Headline: Game of the Tournament!

MVP: Chris Chiozza (8 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds)

This was the best game of the NCAA Tournament thus far. Two great teams going back and forth and needing the extra five minutes to decide the winner. Both teams fought through adversity with foul trouble and Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig played injured in the last 6 minutes of the game. Zak Showalter stepped up and made a ridiculous three pointer in the closing seconds of the game to tie it up and force overtime. Wisconsin had a chance to put the game away with a breakaway layup but Canyon Berry came out of nowhere for a season saving block which led to an easy layup for Florida to tie the game. Nigel Hayes than found his way at the line and knocked down both his free throws with only 4 seconds left. Chris Chiozza did not want to see Zak Showalter’s shot on a loop for the next 2 weeks so he topped him by going the length of the court in 4 seconds and drained a running three pointer at the buzzer to get the win and advance to the Elite 8. As great as Chiozza’s shot was, the Gators wouldn’t have been in any position to win if it wasn’t for KeVaughn Allen’s 35 points. He has broken out of his shooting slump and did so in a big way to propel the Gators to the Elite 8. He carried their offense at times and kept them within striking distance.

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