SportsPulse: While Liberty and UC Irvine broke braces across the country, Duke and Zion Williamson completed their first tournament test. USA TODAY & # 39; s Trysta Krick sums up Day 2 and looks at the action on Saturday.
Ah, madness. The 64 first round teams of the NCAA tournament have been reduced to 32 in the last two days, and the 16 games on Friday brought enough surprises to ruin the brackets and make us want more.
Here are the 10 largest food stalls of Day 2:
1. Freedom was the Cinderella we had been waiting for. After Thursday's action in the first round had been abandoned, on Friday we had the staple buster we had been hoping for the whole time. The Liberty Flames angered the state of Mississippi as the third seed No. 12 to beat a No. 5. But it was how they did that, giving them the best-ever one-shining moment of the tournament. March star Caleb Homesley scored 22 of his 30 points in the second half to convince Liberty of a double-digit deficit. After Lovell Cabbil had dropped a massive three-pointer to give his team a 72:70 lead at 1:16, the Supreme Guard celebrated with the Liberty Student Division, which traveled across the country from the school's Virginia campus.
Liberty Flames guard Caleb Homesley (1) celebrates with guard Lovell Cabbil Jr. (3) for a basket against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the second half of the first round of the NCAA 2019 tournament at the SAP Center. (Photo: Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports)
Whether it was Cabbil looking for Homesley for a backdoor dunk or roleplayers charging and getting big blocks, the last five minutes were the perfection of March Madness.
NCAA BRACKETS: Winners, Losers and Disgruntles
Perhaps the state of Mississippi was not a bloody opponent with blue blood (for first appearance since 2009), but the obvious advantage in the size and sportiness divisions made the Bulldogs the ideal villain. And while we were expecting a more boring style from this defensive-minded team headed by coach Ritchie McKay (he's a former assistant from Virginia, I suppose), it was unexpected offensive moves that led to that win.
. 2 The day of UC Irvine's "little brother" was equally epic. Earlier in the day, number 13 anteaters were the first darling of the day when they advanced to Kansas State No. 4, a team that won the Big 12 and last year's Elite Eight. UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner told the story behind the scenes after his team's first ever NCAA tournament win: "UC Irvine, folks, I do not know, people live in the shadows, live like little brothers in UCLA and (USC) and maybe a few others, Cal, Stanford, San Diego State, maybe like little brothers, Well, that little brother was in the weight room, getting better and getting ready for such an opportunity. "All these teams Turner mentions are closed Home, while the medium-sized Anteaters are still dancing.
UC Irvine also had its star, Max Hazzard (19 points) drilled before the half a buzzing three-pointer and then a dagger three-point with 1:30. "The stage does not get much bigger," Hazzard said afterwards. No, it really is not.
SportsPulse: We have our first real staple buster of the tournament: UC Irvine. USA TODAY's Scott Gleeson explains how they did it and whether it's a threat to get a real Cinderella to work.
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3. There was something in the water in San Jose. Both of the above upsets occurred in San Jose, as did Oregon's somewhat-expected surprise from No. 5 Wisconsin, when the ducks thrived as one of the hottest teams in the tournament, who would not be here if they did not win would have the automatic bid of the Pac-12 tournament. Three big surprises in one day made San Jose the jackpot of all tournament venues for fans who buy tickets and never know exactly what they're meant for.
. 4 Zion Williamson is undoubtedly the biggest star of the tournament. The Duke Star rookie would scream for his stubborn dunks in the first round of the NCAA tournament against North Dakota on Friday so loud that viewers across the country watching the game on CBS hear 6-7,285 pounds and could feel the power and passion of the forward. After Williamson started shakily in the first half against the 16-set bison – only four at halftime – Williamson used the second half to show everyone that he was the most exciting star of the tournament (sorry, yes morant). Williamson, who scored 25 to 12 to 16 field goals, said after the game coach Mike Krzyzewski told the team at halftime "to relax and play 'Duke basketball." Mission accomplished. Williamson and his player of the year Teammate RJ Barrett (26 points, 14 rebounds) makes this team a must – even against an inferior opponent.
Virginia is not the last year in Virginia. It was a painful déjà vu spell for a team from Virginia that wanted to silence doubters, the Cavaliers were startled by another inspired # 16 seed in Gardner-Webb, and their disastrous first half, when they were six, left the nation after a repeat of the Story bleeding to air Finally, the second half showed why this Virginia team is far from the one that stunned UMBC last year, De & Andreu Hunter (23 points) of UVA is de Ultimate X-Factor for this team, and Mamadi Diakite took advantage of his size to quickly put this game down in the second half. So the story continues for a team that uses coach Tony Bennett's defense and patient offensive system to beat more athletic teams: Can Virginia avenge the heartache of the past year?
What the All-American Kyle Guy said in November today still holds true today – perhaps more than ever: "Pretty positive that she won an ESPN on the (UMBC defeat) for 30 & # 39; We could as well make it a better story for us … For me, a national championship is the only way to silence everyone. "
6. The Big Ten govern the tournament. The conference went 1-7 in the first round only one year after only four teams were used for the NCAA tournament. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the seven teams set a record that Big East set for the first time in 2008 and 2011 for the seats of a single second-round conference.
"It's the best league I've ever been in. I can not explain how difficult it is on a particular night," said Chris Holtman, Ohio, after 11-year-old Buckeyes left the state on 11th Friday Iowa had defeated. Two seeds # 10 in Iowa and Minnesota also defeated better seeded teams, while the rest of the league (outside Wisconsin) defeated their taller opponent to advance to the second round.
. 7 Texas Tech and Buffalo both look like the final four rivals in the West. The seemingly faint west still does not look so weak anymore, which causes the first impressions of Selection Sunday to go to bed. Texas Tech shook Northern Kentucky behind Jarrett Culver's 29, while Buffalo dominated his first-round opponent, Arizona State. Now both teams meet in the second round, with the winner representing a viable Final Four threat.
"We can play with anyone in the country," said Buffalo Guard Jeremy Harris following his team's win over ASU (91: 74). "It's good to win, but we're not done yet."
. 8 Tennessee looked bad and dangerous; The next seed is Iowa. The volunteers barely pulled away from Colgate # 15 in a game in which they saw flashbacks to Loyola-Chicago's # 3 annoyance last year. "I think a game like today makes the NCAA tournament the NCAA tournament," said coach Rick Barnes. That's right, but it also begs the question as to whether this team's Final Four or even Sweet 16 is as good as advertised. While the idea of the tournament was that the Vols would get a tough draw against Cincinnati in the second round, they instead see an Iowa team looking awesome at the fall of the Bearcats.
. 9 The shooter of Houston, Corey Davis Jr., can carry his team to Sweet 16 and on. The Cougars Guard missed six consecutive three-pointers and ended the day with seven victories in his shooting fire, which includes the quality of this Houston team. Coach Kelvin Sampson said after the victory: "This is a special group of children in terms of their preparation and leadership, we are moving towards our goal, our goal is only to live to fight another day." That comes on Sunday against Ohio State.
10th Can UCF challenge Duke? The Knights, another AAC dark horse, took care of the deployment of the VCU in the first round on Friday. But now they draw Duke on Sunday. Can you hang with the strong favorite Blue Devils? Well, one thing is certain, and we will see two otherworldly people.