After a rather routine Friday the hope was that Saturday would provide even more surprises. But few people had in mind what the Northern Iowa Panthers did in Oklahoma City when it came to the shocker of the day. The Missouri Valley champions got off to a quick start early and did not let up until the game was decided, knocking off the top overall seed 69-67 to move on to the Sweet 16 next week in St. Louis. Ali Farokhmanesh led the way with 16 points, knocking down what has to be the shot of the Tournament thus far to give Northern Iowa a 66-62 lead with 34 seconds remaining.
Even though many acknowledged that the Cornell Big Red were underseeded in the aftermath of Selection Sunday, it was still a toss-up in regards to whether or not they would beat Temple. But in a game matching mentor (Fran Dunphy) and one-time assistant (Steve Donahue), it was Coach Donahue's team that took control of the game for good in the second half via the three-point shot (Ryan Wittman) on their way to the 78-65 win in Jacksonville.
In one of the wildest opening days in the history of the NCAA Tournament it took a lot to shock the college basketball world. And 97 points may qualify as "a lot", as in the number of points the MAC champion Ohio Bobcats scored in their 97-83 win over third-seeded Georgetown in a Midwest Region first round game in Providence. One-time Indiana Hoosier Armon Bassett scored 32 points while point guard D.J. Cooper added 23 points and eight assists in a dominant performance for John Groce's squad.
Wright St 69 - Detroit 50
Detroit Frustrates Green Bay
Thankfully Monday was a busy night on the schedule even before ESPN's 24-hour marathon (even if you had fantasy football interests Ravens/Browns should not have been an option) and it didn't disappoint either. John Wall made his regular season debut for Kentucky and to say the least the phenom showed why people are touting him as a National POY possibility. And there were other key results on Monday/early Tuesday that could have a long-lasting impact on this season as well.
Three Key Happenings
There were questions in regards to just how much of a factor the pro-Michigan State crowd would be in the first semifinal. While the majority of a record 72,456 people was heard throughout the Spartans’ 82-73 victory, Connecticut had a much tougher time boxing out the five eligible players on the floor. Although the teams tied with forty-two rebounds apiece, the Spartans took advantage of their eighteen offensive caroms and controlled the flow of the game in the second half.
Most of the talk heading into Sunday’s Midwest Regional Final centered on the hot Louisville Cardinals and their chance to give the Big East three teams in the Final Four.
Turns out someone forgot to tell Louisville that their work wasn’t done with that 103-64 beating of Arizona on Friday night.