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The Sweet 16 Recap - Thoroughly (Humorously) and Scathingly Annotated

These may not be the most essential facts ever, but this is essential reading. Trust him, he’s a lawyer.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional-Miami (FL) vs Houston Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

This is a guest post from Terence Blackburn. A former academic leader at Michigan State and long time basketball fan. Terence will add his own, specifically annotated takes on the NCAA Tournaments. (He’s a lawyer, so of course he uses footnotes) He is also the father of Brandon Blackburn-Dwyer, who writes here (that guy with the “BBD’s” thing). You can read his Round 1, Day 1 recap HERE, the Recap of Round 1, Day 2 HERE, and the Recap of Round 2, Days 1 and 2 HERE.

THE SWEET SIXTEEN TO THE ELITE 8 - Or the Day The High Seeds Ended


And then there were none….

Michigan State played a REALLY good game:

  • 49% on FGs
  • 52% on 3PTs (13/25)[Annotation 1]
  • 18/22 FTs

Unfortunately for the Spartans, Christmas came early for the Kansas State Wildcats in the person of Markquis Nowell. He felt right at home where the game was played in Madison Square Garden, Manhattan. He was born in New York City, attended high school in Brooklyn and New Jersey, and attends university in Manhattan.[2] He set the NCAA Tournament record of 19 assists, and also scored 20 points[3], including two impossible desperation shots that should never have gone in if the normal rules of gravity and geometry had applied.

The Spartan’s Tyson Walker had a really good game – played 41 minutes, hit 4 of 7 3s, had 5 assists and made a layup with 6 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 82 and send it into overtime. Unfortunately, what will (undeservedly) keep him awake is the steal/turnover with 6 seconds left in OT and the Spartans trailing 96-93. Although he lost the last possession for the Spartans, there were other causes for the Spartans’ loss – primary among them their inability to defend against back-door cuts and lighting drives under the basket – the Wildcats scored 44 points in the paint.

And so the game ended 98-93. On go the Wildcats, Joyeux Nowell.

THE UPSETS: And then there were none….

Alabama vs San Diego State

For the first time in the history of the Men’s Tournament NO 1 seeds made it to the Elite 8. A year ago only one of the 1 seeds got there.[4]

So what happened? Overall 1-seed Alabama Crimson Tide was leading San Diego State Aztecs 48-39 with 11:39 remaining in the game. In the next 3 minutes the Aztecs exploded for a 12-0 scoring run to lead 51-48, and in the five minutes after that they extended their lead to 62-53. The Tide then rolled in with a 9-2 run, cutting the lead to 64-62, but that was their high-water mark. The Aztecs made their free throws in the inevitable fouling part of the game, and won 71-64.[5]

The game was extraordinarily physical, possibly setting an NCAA Tournament record for the most bodies ending on the floor. So the SDSU Aztecs move on and the Alabama Ebb Tides are going home.

Houston vs Miami

And not long after, the last remaining 1-seed Houston Cougars got blown out by the Miami Hurricanes 89-75. Although Miami led most of the way, the game was close in the first half until Miami hit a 3 pointer with 4:37 remaining to lead 34-31. They extended their lead to 42-36 at the end of the half, and the closest the Cougars could get after that was 51-49 with 14 minutes remaining. At that point the Hurricanes turned into a Cat 5 storm, outscoring the Cougars 19-4, to build a 70-53 lead with just under 9 minutes remaining, and that lead was too much for the Cougars to overcome.

Tennessee vs Florida Atlantic

The Cinderella is dead, long live the Cinderella.[6] With the loss by Cinderella Princeton Tigers, another unlikely school put on the ball gown – 9 seed Florida Atlantic Owls.[7] The Owls, which had upset 8 seed Memphis in the first round, and then crushed the hopes of 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the second round, shocked the 4 seed Tennessee Volunteers 62-55. The Vols looked like they had the game in hand in the first half, leading for all except the first 2 minutes of the half, and finishing the half up 27-22. The second half looked to be more of the same, with the Owls still behind 39-33 with 12 minutes left. The Owls then ripped off 10 straight points (43-39) and then built a 10 point lead 51-41.[8] Although the Vols struggled back to 55-50 with 3:37 remaining, they managed only 1 FG and 3 FTs the rest of the game. Tennessee, with the #1 rated defense in the country, got out-defensed by FAU, hitting only 33% of FGs and 6/23 on 3PTs.

UCLA vs Gonzaga

In a sort- of upset, 3 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs squeaked by 2 seed UCLA 79-76.[9] In a wild finish, the UCLA Bruins, who were 9 points (72-63) down with under a minute and a half remaining were still behind 74-66 with 1:04 remaining. The Bruins roared back outscoring the Zags 10-1 over the next 50 seconds, to take a 76-5 lead with 13 seconds remaining. Gonzaga countered with a 3PT with 7 seconds remaining, and UCLA’s countering 3PT bounced away off the back of the rim with 1 second left.


Well, there were still a couple games that can be called business as usual.

  • 2 seed Texas defeated 3 seed Xavier 83-71.
  • 4 seed University of Connecticut Huskies chased the 8 seed Arkansas Razorbacks out of the arena 88-65. The Huskies led the entire game, and were up 46-29 at the half.
  • 6 seed Creighton spoiled the dance of 15 seed Princeton 86-75. The Tigers couldn’t match the height and strength advantage of the mighty Blue Jays, which had a 58% FG% powered by 7’1” Kalkbrenner[10], 4 blocks, and a 32-22 defensive rebound advantage.


[1] Akins 4/5, Walker 4/7, Hauser 4/9, Hoggard 1/2.

[2] That’s Manhattan, Kansas. Almost the same, isn’t it?

[3] How is this possible? If he was assisting other players to score, how could he score so much himself?

[4] Ultimate champion Kansas. There also was only one 1 -seed left in the Elite 8 in 2000, 2011 and 2013.

[5] So SDSU outscored Alabama 32-16 in the last 11 minutes of the game.

[6] Yes, I know that’s a spoiler indicating that Princeton lost. But almost everyone knew that already.

[7] Just in case you’re not up to speed on FAU: Located in Boca Raton, Florida, with 5 satellite campuses spread 86 mile north to 37 miles south of Boca, all along the east coast of southern Florida. Founded in 1964 with under 900 students, it now has an enrollment of over 30,00 students.

[8] For those who are math-challenged, that’s an 18-2 run.

[9] Gonzaga is making a habit of 3 point victories – they beat TCU 84-81 in the second round.

[10] 9-12 FGs, 4-4 FTs

RELATED: The Rest of the Thoroughly Annotated NCAA Recaps