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Monday’s 2023 NCAA Tournament Notes

Things are getting interesting

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Orlando
ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 18: Tennessee Volunteers and Duke Blue Devils players search for a rebound during the second round of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament held at Amway Center on March 18, 2023 in Orlando, Florida.
Photo by Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

In Sunday’s Action, we violated our own rule and bet against the better coach in the #7 Michigan State vs. #2 Marquette game. Tom Izzo’s team beat Shaka Smart’s bunch 69-60. We thought they might look slow but not at all. Michigan State raced out to a fat early lead before Marquette made a game of it. In the end, Michigan State took control and pulled away. So we could modify our Izzo bet: never bet against Izzo making the Final Four. Title is different, but Final Four? Nope.

Gonzaga struggled a bit with TCU but ripped off a 13-1 run late, highlighted by a very rare Drew Timme three to push a two point lead out to five before the Zags won 84-81. Timme finished with 28.

#5 Saint Mary’s hung with #4 UConn for the first half before fading in the second. UConn was up just 41-40 with 14:02 left and then the Huskies lit the afterburners. Adama Sanogo, who has been incredibly impressive so far, hit 11-16 for 24 points and also grabbed eight rebounds. No one hit double figures for Saint Mary’s and UConn limited the Gaels to just 38.8 percent.

Looks like we underestimated #6 Creighton as the Bluejays flew past the #3 Baylor as the Bears focused on defending the interior only to see Ryan Nemhard and cohorts take over from outside. Nemhard finished with 30 and Creighton shot 45.8 percent behind the line. We’re not sure what the tournament record for free throws is but 22-22 is pretty good.

#3 Xavier really took it to #11 Pitt, especially inside, and that was made worse because Federiko Federiko was still hurting and played less than a minute.

Good news for Jeff Capel: the Guillermo Diaz twins, particularly Guillermo, who had 11 points and eight boards, are getting better fast. Jorge finished with seven points and a board.

Remember how ineffective the twins were in Cameron? A summer of weightlifting is going to make them much, much better.

On Friday, Kentucky’s John Calipari won his first NCAA game in four years, which is crazy, and on Sunday, the streak was over as the #6 Wildcats lost to, well, the Wildcats from #3 Kansas State 75-69.

We think that’s the end at UK for Oscar Tshiebwe, who went out with 25 points and 18 rebounds. The guy has legitimately been great and also appears to be a really good guy. We’ll be sorry to see him go.

UK has struggled with outside shooting this year and it hit again in this one as the Wildcats shot just 4-20.

#5 Miami is the only ACC team left standing, as they beat #4 Indiana 85-69. Norchad Omier had 17 rebounds and not surprisingly, Isaiah Wong didn't deliver two bad shooting nights in a row: he shot 9-17 and hit 4-6 from deep for 27 points. This game was tied 49-49 with 13:02 to go before Miami started to pull away.

Finally: was #16 Fairleigh Dickinson for real? The Knights didn’t beat Florida Atlantic, instead losing 78-80, but they proved that they’re legit. We’re really sorry that they are out. Who’s been more fun?

So the Sweet Sixteen is set.

South bracket: #1 Alabama vs. #5 San Diego State and #6 Creighton vs. #15 Princeton.

East bracket: #9 Florida Atlantic vs. #4 Tennessee and #3 K-State vs. #7 Michigan State.

Midwest bracket: #1 Houston vs. #5 Miami and #3 Xavier vs. #2 Texas.

West bracket: #8 Arkansas vs. #4 UConn and #3 Gonzaga vs. #2 UCLA

Conference breakdown:

  • SEC: 3 (Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas)
  • Big East: 3 (Xavier, UConn, Creighton)
  • Big 12: 2 (Kansas State, Texas)
  • Big Ten: 1 (Michigan State)
  • ACC: 1 (Miami)
  • PAC-12: 1 (UCLA)
  • Mountain West: 1 (San Diego State )
  • Ivy: 1 (Princeton)
  • AAC: 1 (Houston )
  • WCC: 1 (Gonzaga)
  • C-USA:1 (Florida Atlantic)

The ACC might have gotten more criticism for only having one team if the Big Ten and PAC-12 didn’t match that, and the Big 12, generally seen as the best conference, got only two.

And in the ACC’s defense, every team had a critical injury to a frontcourt player: Virginia lost Ben Vander Plas, Pitt was missing Federiko Federiko, NC State lost Dusan Mahorcic in December and Duke lost Mark Mitchell the day before the Blue Devils played Tennessee.

Miami lost Norchad Omier but got him back for this weekend. However, he was questionable all week and was probably not 100 percent.

What happened to the Big 12? Baylor - out. Kansas - out. Iowa State - out. TCU - out. West Virginia - out.

Kansas at least can say Bill Self had to sit the tournament out for health reasons.

But the Big Ten? That was a train wreck. The ACC, everyone said, had a down year. Well not the B1g. #1 Purdue went out to #16 FDU. Iowa and Illinois were out early as well. Northwestern, Indiana and Penn State followed in the Round of 32.

The Big Ten got a ton of hype and its best team (supposedly) set the worst sort of history and, well, trends are trends. Look at how the coaches have done:

  1. Izzo - Eight Final Fours, Two Elite Eights, four Sweet Sixteens, four 32s, five 64
  2. Matt Painter - Five Sweet Sixteens and one Elite Eight since 2005-06.
  3. Fran McCaffrey - Has won a single game four times since 2010-11.
  4. Kevin Willard - 2-5 overall in NCAA play, never past the first weekend yet
  5. Brad Underwood - Never out of the round of 32 at Stephen F. Austin, Oklahoma State or Illinois.
  6. Northwestern - Chris Collins - Two appearances, two wins and two losses.
  7. Michigan - Juwan Howard - Elite Eight Sweet Sixteen and NIT in four years.
  8. Rutgers - Steve Pikiell - One NCAA win in three trips.
  9. Nebraska - Fred Hoiberg - Made the Sweet Sixteen once - at Iowa State
  10. Wisconsin - Gregg Gard - Two Sweet Sixteens
  11. Ohio State - Chris Holtmann - One Sweet Sixteen 16 at Butler, never past the first weekend at OSU
  12. Wisconsin - Ben Johnson - Too early
  13. Missouri - Dennis Gates - One tournament win at CSU one at Mizzou - too early to tell
  14. Indiana - Mike Woodson - Two tourneys so far 1 win. Too early to tell.
  15. Micah Shrewsbury - 1-1, too early

But you can relate that to the ACC too. When Dean Smith/Roy Williams/Mike Krzyzewski roamed the sidelines, the ACC was basically guaranteed at least one and usually two Sweet Sixteen teams. We’ll have to see how the newer guys do, but this year certainly wasn’t great.