Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wrap Up of Thursday's Sweet Sixteen Games

ND's Connaughton Drives Against
 Wichita State (Via ESPN)
With both teams acquiring wins in their Sweet Sixteen matchups tonight, Notre Dame and Wisconsin are heading to the Elite Eight.

Notre Dame's big five helped push the Irish past Wichita State 81-70.  All five of their starters finished the night in double digits in points, except for Jerian Grant who had 9 points and 11 assists.  Pat Connaughton had another huge game tonight with 16 points and 10 rebounds.  During this post season he and Grant have stepped up their games together and have helped lead the Irish on their tournament run.  Although the Shockers of Wichita lost, Fred VanVleet still had a great game.  He finished with 25 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.  While Notre Dame moves on to the next round, Wichita State is getting ready to head home and prep for next season.

A little while after Notre Dame punched their ticket to the Elite Eight, Wisconsin followed suit.  The Badgers played a close game with UNC, but held on late to win 79-72.  The big man duo of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker led Wisconsin tonight.  Dekker finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Kaminsky had 19 points and 8 rebounds.  After being tested by a great UNC team tonight Wisconsin looks ready to make their push to the Final Four.

While both teams must be excited to make the Elite Eight, fans wonder if they even have a slight chance of winning the championship.  While the teams celebrate their wins tonight, Kentucky is cruising past West Virginia on their way to the next round.  There, they will play Notre Dame.  Although Kentucky may be tested at first, there is no way that Notre Dame will beat them.

Wisconsin's Sam Dekker Slams
 One Home Over UNC (Via ESPN)
After their win, Wisconsin is getting ready to watch Arizona face off against Xavier.  Like the Kentucky game, this one is easily predictable.  Arizona will most likely defeat the #6 seed Xavier tonight.  If they do so, they will play Wisconsin this Saturday.  Even though the Wildcats are much deeper than the Badgers, they often play down to the level of their opponent.  Against Wisconsin, they can have no margin for error, and the energy they bring to the court will be crucial in wether or not they can win.  Assuming Arizona wins tonight, Saturday's game is set to be one of the best Elite Eight games in recent history.

Although it's easy to look into the future and see the end of the season coming up really soon for both teams, both Wisconsin and Notre Dame hope to extend their seasons as long as they can.  While Wisconsin has a great chance of making the Final Four,  Notre Dame has an almost impossible feat ahead of them, Kentucky.  Even if Wisconsin wins, they would have to play Kentucky too. It seems neither chance has a great team of making the title game, only because of Kentucky though. Before I get to ahead of myself though, congrats to both teams for making it to the next round of the NCAA Tournament.

Overtime: Kentucky demolished West Virginia 78-39.  Their win was the first time a team had doubled their openents score in Sweet Sixteen history.  Another interesting fact, the Wildcats could have gone scoreless in the second half and they still would have won.  Now onto Notre Dame as predicted.

Arizona skated by Xavier in a nail biter last night.  Early in the game Rondae Hollis-Jefferson went down with a knee injury.  Although he came back into the game, offensive responsibilities were handed to Stanley Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski, and TJ McConnell.  Johnson finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds.  Tarczewski battled with Xavier's Matt Stainbrook all game long and finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds Xavier's big had 17 points and 10 rebounds.  At times it looked like Xavier was the better team and that they were going to win.  But late in the game they started to fall apart. Although they did lose, Jalen Reynolds dunk over Kaleb Tarczewski made noise all over social media.

Once again Arizona played down to the level of their competition.  Late in the game they showed their strength and senior guard TJ McConnell (17 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists) helped the Wildcats pull away with a 68-60 victory.  They now await an Elite 8 matchup with Wisconsin, they must bring their A+ game in order to beat the Badgers.

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