By Dan Rubin
Every year, storylines within the March Madness bracket develop, take shape, and ultimately define teams’ seasons. Teams are defined by performances, shots, images that capture what it means to be a part of the tournament. Each year has its Christian Laettner, Bryce Drew, Hampton, Cornell, George Mason, and Butler.
This year is no different. With one day in the books, tweets and Facebook statuses lit up with news of Louisville’s defeat at the hands of Morehead State. They erupted in cheers of Butler’s buzzer beater against Old Dominion. Clickers hustled through games, most of which came down to the wire. And that was without any Gus Johnson.
Here’s a look at Day 2, as we get set for the Second or Third Round of the NCAA tournament this weekend:
Game Of The Day: Villanova vs. George Mason. Gus Johnson was back in a big way. When GMU trailed the Wildcats by six late, I got an email from a coworker saying, “Well there goes Mason’s season. Nova opening this one up.” My reply said simply, “It’s a Gus Johnson game. The Law of Gus.” Needless to say, I won that one. GMU came back from down six to tie the game, and then take the lead on Mike Morrison’s thunder dunk put back. Almost immediately, Corey Fisher gets fouled on a three, hits all of them, giving Nova a one point lead. Back the other way, three ball side pocket for Luke Hancock. Gus’s head is on the verge of exploding. Corey Stokes loses the ensuing possession, and the game gets punctuated with Hancock feeding Morrison for a major league dunk that exploded my iPhone.
Upset Of The Day: As of when I stopped watching the games, every single high seed won their games. So that makes my job stink. But if I had to pick an upset, I’d go with Michigan creaming Tennessee. I picked Tennessee, so it was an upset for me, but I don’t think anybody saw an 8-9 games to have a team win by as many as the Wolverines did. The Vols scored 16 points in the 2nd half, and Michigan won by 30. Maybe that doesn’t count as a major upset, but that’s the closest thing we have other than Marquette upending Xavier. Now watch…Indiana St. will beat Syracuse because I stopped watching.
Stat of the Day: Tyler Zellers dropped 32 in North Carolina’s win over Long Island in a very low-key way. Up until I saw his final total, I was ready to give this to JaJuan Johnson for his double-double in the Purdue victory over St. Peter’s. But anytime a guy can drop 32 points AND help people get free biscuits from Chik-fil-A, he gets my award (Chik-Fil-A gives free biscuits out every time the Tar Heels score 100).
Looking Ahead to Tomorrow: The second round. This is where the men start to separate from the boys. At least one low seed will move on, when Morehead plays Richmond. And then the Cinderella stories can start being written in earnest. It’s also where the top seeds historically start to falter. It’s easy to dominate a 16-seed if you’re the top seed in the tourney. Now try to do it against a team from a bigger conference, or at least a team with some more talent on their roster.
Games to Watch: Gonzaga-Brigham Young; Florida-UCLA; Wisconsin-Kansas State.
Special mention to UConn-Cincinnati. It’s a 3-vs-4 matchup, and I have UConn in the national title game. But they’re meeting an extremely tough challenge when they go head-to-head with the Bearcats.