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2018 NCAA Tournament: Notes On Thursday

An amazing night of basketball to say the least.

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Florida State v Gonzaga
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 22: Mfiondu Kabengele #25 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates late in the game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the second half in the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament West Regional at Staples Center on March 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. The Florida State Seminoles defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs 75-60.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Another amazing night in the 2018 NCAA tournament as three of four games are upsets and in the fourth, Michigan put the rest of the field on notice with a stunning takedown of Texas A&M.

Where to start? Might as well do it at the beginning.

As impressive as Texas A&M was against UNC, Michigan was more so against A&M. The Wolverines shot 62% and had a 29 point first-half lead. A&M’s size advantage, so dramatic against UNC, was useless against Michigan. Michigan hit 14-24 from three point range. When you hit 42 points on three pointers, that’s a big problem for anyone.

In the first half of the Loyola-Nevada game, aka Mariah vs. Sister Jean, it looked for a while as if Nevada would simply run past Loyola. They looked like an NBA team, albeit a short one.

Didn’t turn out that way. Loyola started the second half 13-13 and played brilliantly, building a 10 point lead.

As we’ve learned though, Nevada can be down but keeping those guys down is tough. Cody and Caleb Martin, showing game they never showed in Raleigh, helped lead Nevada back.

Ultimately Marques Townes hit a three with 6.3 left to give the Ramblers a four point lead.

Caleb Martin hit a last three but it was too little too late.

Still, Nevada, a team made up almost entirely of transfers, and the Martins, two of those transfers, made their point. A team built on second chances doesn’t give up easily.

In the third game, Kansas State was magnificent in an upset of Kentucky. In the tournament’s second battle of Wildcats vs. Wildcats (UK-Davidson being the first), Kentucky really should have had every advantage. They had an immense size advantage, better talent and as usual, Big Blue Nation showed up in force.

But Kansas State had two assets that can’t be faked: experience and heart. Those guys built up huge foul trouble. Didn’t matter. Kentucky came back and took the lead. Didn’t matter.

Kentucky lost this game from the foul line and one guy was responsible for that: PJ Washington.

He had 18 points and 15 rebounds...and shot 8-20 from the line.

By the time Barry Brown darted through Kentucky’s much bigger players for a lay-up to put K-State up 60-58 with :18 left, Kansas State had fouled out three players and had two more with four each.

Quade Green got a three off with but 6-2 Amaad Wainright got the rebound and hit his first free throw. He missed his second and Kentucky got one last chance. After a time out, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander got a three point attempt with :01 left but by then the UK kids and possibly even the at-times dim BBN understood that K-State, even in overtime, even with severe foul trouble, would never stop. It was a magnificent performance.

Finally, in the nightcap Florida State surprised everyone and beat Gonzaga by 15. You could maybe argue that the Xavier comeback was a perfect storm and that Xavier helped. Not this time: Gonzaga is a very, very good team - and FSU owned them.

Not many, least of all us, thought Florida State could get to this point, but the ‘Noles have clearly caught fire. Now they’ll get Michigan which could be an amazing and fascinating game.

With Kentucky and Texas A&M out, the SEC is done. The ACC is guaranteed at least two teams in the Elite Eight since Duke and Syracuse play tomorrow night, and if Clemson pulls off an upset of Kansas, then the conference gets three of the eight spots.

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