2022 March Madness – Rounds of 64 and 32 Recap

Only 16 Remain

After a weekend of thrilling games, only 16 teams remain in the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Let’s take a look at some of the major upsets and surprises from the opening rounds.

 8 seed Boise State vs 9 seed Memphis –

Just as predicted, the Memphis Tigers took care of business against the Boise State Broncos, winning 64-53. Even though the Tigers finished with 15 turnovers, their offense firepower was just too much for the Broncos. Memphis went on to the Round of 32, losing to overall number one seed Gonzaga by only four points. Their tournament run could have been deeper if they had faced a different second round matchup; however, this was still a great turnaround season for the young team.

 6 seed Alabama vs 11 seed Notre Dame –

After barely beating Rutgers in last Wednesday’s play-in (“First Four”) game, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were just happy to even be in the tournament. Two days later, they matched up as the underdog against a streaky Alabama team, and proceeded to win by almost 15 points. Junior Cormac Ryan led the Irish in scoring with 29 points, playing a huge role in the stunning win. Notre Dame then faced Texas Tech in the second round. With both teams going back and forth late, it was anyone’s game. Unfortunately for the Irish, they committed some costly turnovers and couldn’t execute down the stretch. Texas Tech took full advantage and separated themselves by making nearly every foul shot they took, and Notre Dame lost by six.

 2 seed Kentucky vs 15 seed Saint Peter’s –

This game was an instant classic, and will go down in the history books as one of the greatest March Madness upsets of all time. Ranked as a top five team in the country, the Kentucky Wildcats were predicted by some to win the national championship (32% of brackets had them in the Final Four). That was until they faced the Peacocks of Saint Peter’s in the opening round of the tournament. The Wildcats simply couldn’t pull away, as Saint Peter’s matched them shot for shot, forcing the game into overtime. Propelled by juniors Darryl Banks III (27 points) and Doug Edert (20 points), the Peacocks took the lead late and managed to hang on for the 85-79 win. In the next round, Saint Peter’s won again, this time by 10 against Murray State – who had been on a 21-game winning streak! They’re getting dangerous at the perfect time, and emerging as a serious threat entering the Sweet Sixteen.

 5 seed UConn vs 12 seed New Mexico State –

Nobody saw this one coming. New Mexico State hadn’t won a tournament game since 1993, and it’s safe to say the Aggies were overlooked coming into the tournament. However, they quickly showed that they belonged on the big stage. Star guard Teddy Allen exploded for 37 points, helping the Aggies pull out a 70-63 win over the UConn Huskies. Though they were eliminated in the second round by five against a tough Arkansas team, New Mexico State should be proud of their season. Watch out for this team to make a deep run next year.

 8 seed Seton Hall vs 9 seed TCU and 1 seed Arizona vs 9 seed TCU –

To almost no surprise, the TCU Horned Frogs defeated the Seton Hall Pirates 69-42. Being an 8-9 seed game, this wasn’t a true “underdog matchup.” TCU had been on a roll going into this one, and they asserted their dominance once again on the glass, finishing with nearly 40 team rebounds.  They faced Arizona next – the top seed in the southern region – and this game came down to the wire. The Horned Frogs played excellent, as the lead switched back and forth multiple times. With the game tied, TCU couldn’t convert, and so it went to overtime. In OT, a few questionable calls by the officials helped the Arizona Wildcats win 85-80. The Horned Frogs literally gave their  blood, sweat, and tears for this game, and it’s unfortunate that their remarkable season had to end like this.

 5 seed Iowa vs 12 seed Richmond –

10% of March Madness brackets had the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Final Four. Fresh off of a Big Ten tournament championship, the Hawkeyes were described as the ‘hottest’ team in the country. Despite the recent momentum, their defense failed them, and they couldn’t stop Jacob Gilyard (24 points) and the Richmond Spiders. After winning 67-63 against Iowa, the Spiders couldn’t hang on in the next round, as they went down by nearly 20 points against Providence.

 7 seed USC vs 10 seed Miami and 2 seed Auburn vs 10 seed Miami –

At halftime, the USC Trojans were down 11 points. The Miami Hurricanes had limited them to only 20 points in the first half, holding USC’s star player, Isaiah Mobley, scoreless as well. In the second half, that quickly changed, as the Trojans stormed back to find themselves down two points and with the ball on the game’s final possession. Sharpshooter Drew Peterson had been essential to their strong comeback; however, he missed a half court shot to win the game for USC. Miami barely hung on thanks to their excellent guard play and big plays down the stretch. The Hurricanes’ went on to face Auburn, who had been ranked number one in the nation’s AP Poll for most of the regular season. Yet, it was Miami that looked like the more experienced and skilled team, forcing turnovers and scoring at will. Up 12 with ten minutes to play, the Hurricanes never looked back, pulling off an unlikely upset once again. Everything was clicking as they easily won 79-61.

 6 seed LSU vs 11 seed Iowa State and 3 seed Wisconsin vs 11 seed Iowa State –

The Iowa State Cyclones were picked to finish dead last in the Big 12 by every single coach in the conference. Now, they’re storming into the Sweet Sixteen, and still on a mission to prove everyone wrong. First, the Cyclones beat the LSU Tigers 59-54, thanks to a game-sealing three pointer by freshman Tyrese Hunter (23 points). Then, they traveled to face Wisconsin, who was basically playing in their own backyard (in Milwaukee). Gabe Kalscheur led the way for Iowa State, making big shot after big shot, and finishing with 22 points. This tremendous effort, combined with another excellent defensive performance around the board, propelled the Iowa State Cyclones to a surprising 54-49 victory.

 This is just a glimpse of some of the remaining teams that survived the first two rounds! Stay tuned for a Sweet Sixteen Preview, where I’ll break down every team remaining, as well as their respective matchups.