SAN DIEGO – March 22, 2013 – Upsets by Harvard over New Mexico, and Oregon over Oklahoma State, and California over UNLV at the men’s NCAA basketball tournament turned out to be merely the warm-up act for the upset of the day.
The exciting charismatic player Sherwood Brown scored 24 points and Bernard Thompson had 23 to lead virtual unknowns Florida Gulf Coast University to an incredible NCAA tournament debut.
In only their second season of even being eligible to enter the NCAA tournament, the FGCU Eagles became only the seventh Number 15 seed to beat a Number 2 seed in their win over Georgetown, 78-68. The Eagles took control with a 21-2 run that gave them a 52-33 lead with 12:28 to play, though the Hoyas used a furious rally to get within 72-68 with 52 seconds left. It was a classic case of nothing to lose, being relaxed and fearless, and beating expectations.
FGCU (25-10) will play seventh-seeded San Diego State the third round on Sunday, which sent Oklahoma home, winning 70-55. Aztec Jamaal Franklin, whose Lebron James cork shoes got nearly as much attention as his play, scored 21 points. The team did everything well, nothing badly and nothing spectacular, using a modest second half run to take control of the game.
All eyes will be on this game Sunday. Will the Cinderella squad advance to the Sweet 16? Or will the well-coached Aztecs under Steve Fisher stay grounded, ignore the hype over FGCU, and advance?
The bracket busting continued with the first NCAA tournament win since 2002 by Mississippi in its victory over Wisconsin, 57-46. The 12th seeded Ole Miss trailed at halftime, but the team found its mojo in the second half, aided by cold shooting by the Badgers at the worst possible time.
Murphy Holloway had 10 points and nine rebounds and Reginald Buckner had nine points and 12 rebounds for the Rebels, who will now play another upset winner, Number 13 seed La Salle, in the third round of the West Regional on Sunday. The Explorers upset fourth-seeded Kansas State 63-61. Jerrell Wright made three foul shots in the final 30 seconds, and No. 13 seed La Salle advanced after blowing an 18-point halftime lead to beat fourth-seeded Kansas State.
In other games:
North Carolina took care of Villanova, 78-71. The Wildcats faced a 20 point deficit against North Carolina in the first half, beat it back to even, and then nearly recovered from another nine-point hole in the final minutes, but North Carolina took charge with three timely three-point baskets to win.
North Carolina will now face the Kansas Jayhawks in the third round. Kansas sent Western Kentucky home, 64-57 Jeff Withey scored 17 in a victory Friday night that avoided what would have been the biggest upset on a day full of them in the NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks struggled against the Hilltoppers’ full-court pressure and trailed by one point at halftime. Kansas eventually built an 11-point lead in the second half, but couldn’t put Western Kentucky away until Ben McLemore’s two foul shots with 11 seconds left in the game. The Jayhawks play against their former coach Roy Williams for North Carolina in the South Regional on Sunday.
Florida had little trouble shutting down Northwestern State, 79-47. The Gators will face either Minnesota or UCLA on Sunday.
Indiana defeated James Madison 83-62. At one point the Hoosiers had a 33-point lead in the game. It was simply ugly. Indiana will play Temple in the second round. Temple beat North Carolina State, 76-72, putting it into the second round for only the second time in six trips to the NCAA tournament.
Number 11 Minnesota took care of Number 6 UCLA with ease, 83-63.
Miami beat University of the Pacific from California, 78-49. Miami now plays Illinois on Sunday, which beat Colorado 57-49 in a game that was a little tougher than the score indicates.
Seventh seed Creighton hung on to beat number 10 seed Cincinnati, 67-63. Doug McDermott had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and Gregory Echenique scored 13 points to help Creighton hold on. Creighton will match up against Duke, which beat Albany, 73-61. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski extended his all-time lead with his 80th career victory in the tournament that he has won four times.
Sam Thompson had career highs with 20 points and 10 rebounds, part of a dominating performance by second-seed Ohio State’s front line against Iona, 95-70. Ohio State plays Iowa State on Sunday, one win away from a fourth straight trip to the round of 16. The Buckeyes advanced by beating Notre Dama, 76-58.
Who’s next in the upset category in round three? The Saturday schedule could yield a few more upsets in the tournament. Not so great for your brackets, but a lot of excitement for fans.
Third Round – All Times Eastern
At Auburn Hills, Michigan
SOUTH: Michigan vs. VCU, 12:15 p.m.
MIDWEST: Michigan State vs. Memphis, 30 minutes following
At Lexington, Kentucky
MIDWEST: Louisville vs. Colorado State, 5:15 p.m.
EAST: Marquette vs. Butler, 30 minutes following
At San Jose, California
MIDWEST: Saint Louis vs. Oregon, 7:10 p.m.
EAST: Syracuse vs. California, 30 minutes following
At Salt Lake City
WEST: Harvard vs. Arizona, 6:10 p.m.
WEST: Gonzaga vs. Wichita State, 30 minutes following
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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