UC Davis and USC pull off incredible comebacks, advance to Tulsa


The Drums, “Blood Under My Belt” found on the album, Abysmal Thoughts

Released June 16, 2017

UC Davis led early in their First Four contest against North Carolina Central 18-9 on a Mikey Henn trey.  NC Central came back on a 10-0 run of their own with under nine minutes to play in the first half.  The Eagles, winners of 19 of their final 23 games leading up to claiming the MEAC title led 34-31 at the half.

UC Davis managed to hang around for the next 16 minutes.  When Rashaun Madison made a three point shot with four minutes to play, UC Davis led 60-58.  Some ill advised shots and heads up play by the Aggies won them the game 67-63.  The closest NC Central came from getting back the lead was when a three point shot by Rashaun Madison from the left wing went in-and-out.

Aggies forward Chima Moneke recorded his 14th double-double by finishing with game-high 18 points to go along with 12 rebounds. The junior made all six of his free throw attempts after shooting 53.6 percent (15-for-28) from the free-throw line over his previous four games. Brynton Lemar was one of three Aggies to finish in double figures with 15 points on 4-for-10 shooting, and hit 3 for 6 from behind the arc.  As for the Eagles, forward Kyle Benton managed to earn his fifth double-double compiling 13 points on the night to go along with 12 rebounds.

It was a different story for Patrick Cole, the NC Central guard who led his team averaging 19.5 ppg and 5.7 assists per game.  He only made 5 of his 15 attempts from the floor and finished up with 13 points and only three assists.

The telling stats in this game were that UC Davis shot the ball better (22 of 48, for 45.8 percent), while NC Central ended up shooting only 24 of 67 for 35.8 percent.  The three point shooting wasn’t all that great, as UC Davis ended the game shooting 5 for 16 from deep (31.3 percent), while North Carolina Central was far worse, taking 10 more shots and shooting the same number as UC Davis, 5 for 26 (19.2 percent).  The turnovers battle was decisively in favor of the Eagles, coughing up the ball only 9 times compared to the Aggies suffering twice as many miscues with 18.  That number will certainly have to come down if they have any dreams of knocking out Kansas in their next game on Friday night in Tulsa, 6:50 p.m. Eastern on TNT.

Consider for a moment these statistics of the lower seeds dating back to 1985:

16 vs. 1  0-128 all-time, with Oklahoma and Georgetown both surviving by one point in 1989 and Purdue was extended to overtime before winning in 1996.

15 vs. 2  8-120 for 6.25 percent.  Only Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 advanced to the Sweet 16, but the bigger upsets belonged to Coppin State in 1997 over South Carolina and of course, 2016 with Middle Tennessee State shocking Denzel Valentine in his final game at Michigan State leading wire to wire in St. Louis.

14 vs. 3  21-107 for 16.4 percent.  Only Cleveland State in 1986 and UT-Chattanooga in 1997 advanced to the Sweet 16.

13 vs. 4  26-102 for 20.3 percent.  Bryce Drew helped Valparaiso slay down Ole Miss in 1998, but also Navy in 1985, along with Murray State and Morehead State earlier in the decade had their brief shining moment on the Big Dance stage.

12 vs. 5  46-82 for 35.9 percent.  The most successful lowest seed, but Utah State tends to be on the wrong side of history–losing four times between 2000 and 2011.  Their only victory, 2001 against Ohio State.  18 times they won their first round game, starting with Joey Meyer and DePaul way back in 1986 and in recent times with North Dakota State doing the trick in 2014.  Missouri is the only team to reach the Elite Eight in 2002.

11 vs. 6  46-82 for 35.9 percent.  Three teams made the Final Four, 1986 with LSU, 2006 with George Mason, and 2011 with VCU routing through Chicago with a pit stop in Dayton before that en route to an improbable five game winning streak to reach the Final Four.  The highest scoring game in NCAA Tournament history took place with this seed with Loyola Marymount putting up one courageous fight in dethroning the then defending champions from Michigan in Long Beach, 149-115 in the second round.

10 vs. 7  50-78 for 39.1 percent.  Syracuse was the first to make it in 2016, but the most improbable was West Virginia’s last second banker three with .8 seconds left to edge out Cincinnati in a wild game at Boise, Idaho in 1998.  Eight teams have advanced to the Elite Eight in this seed, whereas the 9 seed has only advanced this far twice since 1985.

9 vs. 8   Exactly 64-64, 50 percent.  Over 60 percent of those games played have been decided by fewer than 10 points, plus the average margin of victory is less than a point which is in favor of the Number 8 seed by 0.05 points.

USC gets revenge from losing to Providence in 2016

As for the nightcap, USC came back from a 17 point deficit to pull out a 75-71 win over Providence as the Men of Troy got revenge from what the Friars did to them one year ago in the 2016 Big Dance.  It was the 12th time this season that USC has rallied from at least a double digit deficit and come back to win the game.

The turning point came with 6:47 to play in regulation when Chimezie Metu converted on a jump shot to give the Trojans a 61-60 lead.  Nearly half a minute later, Metu blocked a potential lead changing layup from Providence’s Rodney Bullock.  Metu then converted on the next time down the court, assisting on a nice layup by leading scorer Bennie Boatwright and USC rolled from there to a date with USC on Friday in the Tulsa pod.  Boatwright was the game’s high scorer with 24 points, while guard Jordan McLaughin had 18.  For the Friars in a losing cause, forward Emmitt Holt led the charge with 18 points on 9 of 12 shooting.

The Friars shot the ball better, 25 of 51 for 49 percent, while USC was only 24 of 57 for 42.1 percent.  The difference was at the charity stripe, as the Men of Troy sank 20 of 27 foul shots good enough for a 74.1 percent clip.  Providence was not so fortunate when they had their opportunities to score with the clock stopped, only going 12 of 17 on the night for 70.6 percent.  Rebounding was also in USC’s favor, 33-26 with a decisive 15-6 edge on the offensive glass.

Missouri coaching vacancy filled

Former California coach Cuonzo Martin, an East St. Louis, Illinois native was hired on Wednesday afternoon to be the new coach of the Missouri Tigers.  He had turned down the chance to coach at Illinois, who fired John Groce last week (a few days later, the position would be taken over by Brad Underwood, formerly of Oklahoma State).

We arrive at the best time of the year–at least IMHO.

Just you wait until the clock strikes noon in the East and 9 a.m. in the West.

But before then, I have a pair of cool surprises awaiting for you to tap or click on in your inbox.  Please have a good night, we are all going to need as much sleep as we can get these next four nights.







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