2013 NCAA Tournament: News, Notes and Insights from the Round of 64

By Jesse Kramer

—The talent level may be down in college basketball, but the NCAA tournament is as good as ever. The First Four and second round was filled with everything that makes March mad. Marquette survived No. 14 seed Davidson on Vander Blue’s layup in the final seconds; two mid-majors, No. 14 Harvard and No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast, notched their schools’ first NCAA tournament victory; No. 1 seeds Gonzaga and Kansas barely survived valiant efforts from Southern and Western Kentucky, respectively.

It’s been a blast so far, and it should continue to be that way for the next couple of weeks.

The 2013 NCAA Tournament will not (necessarily) belong to the favorites, as I initially thought. I was convinced this year’s Big Dance would result in very few upsets in the later rounds of the tournament. I still expected to see some lower seeds advance once, but I figured by the Elite Eight we would have mainly No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds. (The one exception once I saw the bracket was Saint Louis as, in my opinion, an under-seeded No. 4.)

Throughout the 2012-13 season, the top 10 to 15 teams were pretty consistent, although the order was in flux. These “elite teams” had separated themselves from November through early March. But after watching the first few days of the tournament, I would not be surprised if a double-digit seed found itself among the last eight teams standing. The winner of La Salle vs. Ole Miss will nearly be there, and Florida Gulf Coast has the talent to continue its run.

—Florida Gulf Coast is…awesome. The Eagles, playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time, dismantled No. 2 seed Georgetown in the second half of their meeting on Friday night. A three-point barrage from the Hoyas in the final minutes kept this one close, but the Eagles still had some breathing room when the final buzzer sounded with a 78-68 victory. Sherwood Brown, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and real-life incarnation of Jedi Master Kit Fisto (see below), scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Bernard Thompson added 23 points. Sophomore point guard Brett Comer had a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists while turning over the ball only two times. Then there were the rim-rocking dunks from forwards Chase Fieler and Eddie Murray.

A No. 15 seed has never advanced to the Sweet 16, but Florida Gulf Coast has the ability to change that when it plays No. 7 seed San Diego State on Sunday. Look out, Aztecs.

Florida Gulf Coast star Sherwood Brown (right), and Jedi Master Kit Fisto (left).

—Don’t shy away from Gonzaga and Kansas just because they had close calls. In 2009, Pittsburgh nearly lost to East Tennessee State as a No. 1 seed, and the Panthers still advanced to the Elite Eight. (They lost to No. 3 seed Villanova in a 78-76 thriller.) It’s more than possible for teams to recover from a rough showing in the Round of 64. I’m still confident that Gonzaga will win the West and Kansas will advance to at least the Elite Eight.

—Oregon was seeded too low, but Oklahoma State got the worse part of the deal. Oregon deserved a No. 7 or 8 seed but was given a No. 12 seed, facing No. 5 Oklahoma State in the second round on Thursday. The Ducks handled the Cowboys with relative ease, 68-55, to survive and advance. A lot of people are talking about how it was not fair to Oregon, but don’t forget that Oklahoma State, which was fairly rewarded with its seeding, was forced into a tough matchup way earlier than it should have been. If you accept Oregon as a No. 7 or No. 8 seed, the Cowboys should not have needed to play them until the Elite Eight or Sweet 16.

For your reading:

  • CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish was in Philadelphia for Florida Gulf Coast’s historic upset over Georgetown.
  • Some speculation, courtesy of yours truly, on whether Tubby Smith should be removed from the hot seat after Minnesota’s second round win against No. 6 seed UCLA.
  • NBC’s College Basketball Talk blog compiled the best pictures of day one and day two of the second round.
  • Amidst all the excitement, St. Josephs’ forward C.J. Aiken has announced that he will go pro.

Author: Jesse Kramer

Jesse Kramer is the founder of The Catch and Shoot. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He has had work featured on SI.com, College Insider, The Comeback/Awful Announcing, and 247Sports.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: