Sweet 16 weekend is over and it’s now time for the Elite Eight games. March Madness is making a significant comeback from last year’s COVID-19 debacle, with several teams making unexpectedly deep runs. The Elite Eight games will be held today and tomorrow, with the Final Four coming up this weekend. This past weekend’s NCAA Basketball action was on fire, even though there were also a couple of controversial calls.
Oregon State Prevails
The Oregon State Beavers have gone further than anyone thought possible and advanced a little further when they beat the Loyola Ramblers on Saturday 65-58. It’s the first time the team has made it this far since 1982 and they’re ready for more. They were leading the Ramblers by eight points at the half and never lost that momentum for the rest of the game. The Beavers take on the Houston Cougars (-345) as +255 underdogs today, but they’ve already shown that they can overcome adversity.
The Baylor Bears took care of the Villanova Wildcats this past Saturday without much difficulty. The 62-51 final score was the product of an extreme performance by Adam Flagler, who helped the Bears stop the Wildcats dead in the second half. Villanova had led going into the break and was 15-0 this season when controlling games at the half. The Bears broke that record and are now -400 favorites against the Arkansas Razorbacks (+300) today.
Close But No Cigar For Oral Roberts
It was almost a massive upset, but close doesn’t count in sports. The Oral Roberts Golden Eagles fell to the Arkansas Razorbacks, 72-70, on Saturday, ending the Cinderella story for the team. The Eagles have to be given credit, though, as they forced the Razorbacks to rely on a desperation shot with only seconds left on the clock to secure the win.
The last of Saturday’s games found the Houston Cougars overcoming the Syracuse Orange in what was an offensive sleeper. The final score of 62-46 showed that scoring was not what drove the game, but defensive plays certainly ruled the court. The Orange only shot 28% from the field as one of the best defenses in NCAA Men’s Basketball dominated. That’s the primary reason the Cougars are heavily favorited against the Beavers today and Oregon State hasn’t shown any reason why the odds are wrong.
Gonzaga Remains Unstoppable
The Gonzaga Bulldogs have been bulletproof all season, racking up a perfect 29-0 record. That includes a Sweet 16 win against the Creighton Bluejays yesterday in a game that had the Bulldogs in charge from start to finish. The 83-65 final score set a Division I record for consecutive double-digit wins (at 26) and the Bulldogs are in the Elite Eight for the fourth time in six years. They face the USC Trojans tomorrow as -400 favorites (USC is getting +300) and Gonzaga’s poised to make a statement this year.
The Florida State Seminoles had a chance to redeem themselves after last year’s performance, but faltered. They lost to the Michigan Wolverines yesterday, 76-58, and never found their rhythm from the first tip-off. The Wolverines held the Noles to an average of less than one point per possession as they set themselves up for their next big game. That will be against the UCLA Bruins tomorrow and the Wolverines are expected to take the win. They’re getting -375 against UCLA’s +275 and, if yesterday’s action was any indication, this will be an easy win.
Crimson Tide Turns 50 Shades Of Red
The Bruins advance to the Elite Eight after taking down the Alabama Crimson Tide yesterday, although the game wasn’t without a little controversy. The game was forced into overtime when Alabama tied the score with less than a second on the clock, but some believe it shouldn’t have been in that position. A missed charging call in regulation gave the Bruins a slight edge as they ultimately won 88-78 in OT. However, Alabama had already faltered in the first half, ultimately having to fight back in the second.
The last game of the day found the Trojans facing the Oregon Ducks and now, for the first time since 2001, the Trojans are headed to the Elite Eight tomorrow. They will rely heavily on freshman Evan Mobley, who became the first Pac-12 player ever to win 2020-21 Pac-12 Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same year. He’s also just one of two players to have picked up the trifecta. Mobley will need to dig deep if he wants to stop the Bulldogs.