Round 3, Day 1: Now I am become Kentucky, the destroyer of worlds
- (3) Notre Dame 81, (7) Wichita State 70
o For many parts of this game, it looked like the Shockers were of equal competition to the Fighting Irish. Then, the second half started. It’s not fair to state that the Shockers came out and played bad. They played up to their capabilities, which is the problem. Notre Dame are just that much better, an offensive juggernaut that proved too much for the last true Cinderella team, which, in itself, wasn’t really one.
- (1) Wisconsin 79, (4) North Carolina 72
o This was a great, intense game. Wisconsin pulled it out because they’re a little bit better and a little bit tougher. Hang your heads high, Tar Heels, especially since this was one of the best coaching jobs of Roy Williams’s career.
- (1) Kentucky 44, (5) West Virginia 18
o You’re right, you’re right—this is the halftime score. But, man, am I willing to risk this. Kentucky came out just like they do in your worst nightmares; namely, they came out playing like the greatest college basketball team ever assembled in the history of mankind. With about 3:30 to go in the half, West Virginia had more turnovers (6) than field goals (4). I’m willing to bet that Kentucky finishes the deal.
o If they don’t, know two things: it will be the biggest/most surprising collapse/comeback in the history of the known universe; and I will leave everything I wrote at halftime, with an apology about jumping the gun. I think I’m safe though.
o UPDATE: Kentucky wins, 78-39. May God have mercy on our souls.
- (2) Arizona 68, (6) Xavier 60
o Same as the Wisconsin game, really, which bodes well for the Arizona-Wisconsin rematch on Saturday. Arizona just had a little bit more firepower to throw at Xavier at the end of the game, especially as Xavier (on the back of Matt Stainbrook, modern Hunchback) ran out of gas.
Round 3, Day 2: Death, Taxes, and Tom Izzo in March
- (2) Gonzaga 74, (11) UCLA 62
o The Bruins were just horrendous for large stretches of this game, going on long scoring droughts that would ultimately prove fatal.
- (4) Louisville 75, (8) NC State 65
o Louisville is big. Like, really big. Super big. They bullied NC State at the end.
- (1) Duke 63, (5) Utah 57
o Just a case of a pretty good team running into an even better team. The inevitable Duke-Kentucky final is going to be incredibly fun.
- (7) Michigan State 62, (3) Oklahoma 58
o I am convinced the only reason Sparty won this game is because they are coached by a freaking demigod. I’m serious—there’s no logical reason why Oklahoma didn’t win this game, other than the fact that they don’t have Tom Izzo, and the 11th commandment states that Tom Izzo must make at least the Elite Eight.
Round 4, Day 1: Kentucky Laughs At Your Luck of the Irish Nonsense
- (1) Wisconsin 85, (2) Arizona 78
o This, surprisingly, wasn’t the best game of the day. Don’t get me wrong—it was a fabulous game, with Dekker and Kaminsky playing themselves into Tourney lore. But it felt just so … anticlimactic. That’s really the best word for it. Originals are typically better than their sequels, and that held here, with last year’s game really feeling like a do-or-die game. For some reason, Wisconsin never felt in danger of losing this game, even when they were losing.
- (1) Kentucky 68, (3) Notre Dame 66
o Now, if you want to talk about dramatic games, look no further. Notre Dame played literally a perfect game—minimal turnovers, outside shooting, inside points—and that’s why people who are rooting against Kentucky to go undefeated should be worried. Kentucky was looking past this game. In their mind, they were already in Indianapolis playing Wisconsin. Why wouldn’t they be? Did you see how they dismantled West Virginia? I compared them to an atomic bomb!
o And that’s the problem. Notre Dame played literally a perfect game. Kentucky played far from theirs, and they still found a way to win. They destroyed the entire civilization that once was the West Virginia basketball program when they came in with a laser-like focus. I can’t imagine what’ll happen when they have a week to get that intensity for Wisconsin. If Wisconsin plays their A game, and Kentucky plays theirs, Kentucky wins by double digits.
Round 4, Day 2: Tom Izzo, Coaching Assassin
- (7) Michigan State 76, (4) Louisville 70 (OT)
o What a pure masterclass of coaching. Watching this game and inspiring to become a coach someday must be akin to growing up under the shadow of the Apollo missions and wanting to be an astronaut. There is no reason Michigan State should be doing what they’re doing outside of the fact that Tom Izzo is most likely a cross between the ghost of Red Auerbach, John Wooden, and Jesus Himself.
o Seriously. Tom Izzo gives them a chance in literally any game they play. Think Duke has twice their talent? Tom Izzo is the equalizer. And I don’t even care that Coach K is going to go down as the greatest coach in college basketball history when he retires. Tom Izzo knows what you’re going to have for breakfast a month from now.
- (1) Duke 66, (2) Gonzaga 52
o There’s a trend that seems to happen with Duke games this tournament. They let the opponent keep it close for a while, and then, when the game is at the precipice, they unleash a blitzing of speed and athleticism and devastating offense and suffocating defense. Gonzaga, I believe, scored one basket in the final 9 minutes of the game. That’s insane.