USC and Michigan pull it out, while Louisville toys around with Jacksonville State


Real Estate, “After The Moon” from the album In Mind

Released March 17, 2017 via Domino Recording Company

Michigan and Oklahoma State played one of those games that should be seen on ESPN Classic for decades to come.  Back and forth, neither team giving into the other.

Michigan made 15 treys and they needed every one of them, but Oklahoma State somehow hung around and kept fouling trying to get the likes of Derrick Walton, Jr. and Zach Ervin to miss.  It backfired, and the Wolverines continue their magical run squeezing out a hard-fought 92-91 win.

The weird thing about the CBS telecast occurred in the final minute.  A small power outage inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse cut off the primary mic.  This forced the Birthday Woman, sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson to do some play-by-play.  She briefly described two fouls and slowly got the audience to a commercial break during a time out.  A few seconds after that break, we see Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, and Jim Nantz holding one mic when Hill blurted out this statement:

“I feel like one of The Temptations.”

Next up for Jon Beilein and what Hill also said on the CBS telecast as “a team of destiny”, the second seeded Louisville Cardinals.  Jacksonville State scored the first 8 points of the game, including back-to-back threes.  However, the Cardinals kept pounding the offensive glass and got the ball inside and that proved to be Jacksonville State’s undoing in a nice 78-63 win.  Norbertas Giga had 30 points and nine rebounds in a losing cause for the first time NCAA participants.

USC keeps one streak alive

The Men of Troy went back and forth as well in the Tulsa pod, duking it out with SMU.  Bennie Boatwright hit a trey from the deep left corner to pull USC within two, but Elijah Stewart’s clutch three in the final 25 seconds proved to be the difference in a close-shave 66-65 win.  SMU had a chance in the final seconds to pull out the win, but their final shot fell off the front right side of the rim.

The streak I am referring to is that it marks seven straight years since any school who emerged out of the First Four round in Dayton has gone on to win at least one tournament game.  VCU of course parlayed that to a Final Four berth in 2011.

USC has won 13 straight games when they trailed by double digits.  But I am safely saying that this streak might come to an end Sunday when they more than likely will play against Duke.  Conventional wisdom says Coach K will win in a double digit rout, so we will see happens tonight against 15 seeded Troy.

The other hair-raising finish happened in Greenville, South Carolina.  A tense 8/9 battle ended with some controversy as a Seton Hall player tripped an Arkansas player with 15 seconds to go.  The officials ruled it as a Flagrant 1 foul, which meant that Arkansas was awarded two free throws and the ball out of bounds on the side.  That was the final difference in a final score of 77-71.

Other games in the afternoon session…

Baylor scored 53 points in the second half to rout the Aggies from New Mexico State, 91-53 and Oregon stifled Iona in a huge way 93-77 in Sacramento.

Finally, North Carolina led from the get-go and creamed Texas Southern to the tune of a 103-64 whipping in Greenville.  Rhode Island was leading Creighton by double digits in the final minutes of their first round game in Sacramento.  Will the Rams have enough moxie to get past Oregon without the Ducks’ leading shot blocker in Chris Boucher?

The game to watch tonight is shortly after 7 Eastern time on CBS, as Wichita State meets up with Dayton in a classic 7/10 showdown in Indianapolis.  I am expecting most of the other games to be blowouts by halftime, but we will see later on if Michigan State can keep it close against Miami in the Tulsa pod.  That game to air around 9:30 p.m. Eastern time on TNT.

Erin Go Bragh, enjoy U2 and The Cranberries on your streaming players of choice on this St. Patrick’s Day.  I will be back later tonight with a brief recap to end the first round.


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