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March Madness Second Round Takeaways: Purdue and UCONN roll, Indiana State should have been in and Much More!

Publish Date: 03/25/2024
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

March Madness was not as crazy as we have seen the last few years, but we still had some memorable moments that will be remembered forever. The most memorable mist would have to be Oakland’s upset with the Kentucky Wildcats. As we look forward to Sweet Sixteen, we have some great stories we can pursue to get to another Final Four after 44 years finally. Can N.C. State continue an unexpected winning streak? So lets look back at a great weekend of March madness.

1)Purdue looks ready to end the curse

Purdue center Zach Edey became the first NCAA Tournament player since Maryland’s Joe Smith in 1995 to record at least 25 points and 20 rebounds simultaneously in an NCAA Tournament game. Edey posted 30 points, 21 boards, and three blocks as Purdue earned redemption for last year’s opening-round loss against FDU. Braden Smith also provided significant help; after going 2-for-10 against Fairleigh Dickinson with six assists but seven turnovers, he turned in an exceptional game, compiling 11 points and ten assists without making a single misstep or error!

Purdue had never won a National Championship and has not reached the Final Four since 1980, when Joe Barry Carroll took them there. This Purdue team is well-coached and will be hard to beat. Zach Edey is a mountain of a man, and when he plays great, people just shrug because they expect it. The Boilermakers have many road blocks left, but this looks like a team that should be at least in the Final Four.

2) UCONN looks like the team to beat again

The defending National Champions look like an almost lock to make it to another Final Four. They are suffocating on defense, and the offense can also get it done. They are well-coached and have no weaknesses. To beat them, some team will need to play the game of their lives. They do call it March Madness, so that has and can happen.

3) Oakland will never be forgotten

Coach Greg Kampe captured it best before Oakland’s first-round NCAA tournament game: Winning would change everything for himself, his players, and Oakland University as an institution. Before Thursday night, Jack Gohlke, previously unheard-of outside of Rochester, Michigan, became March’s new folk hero with the most 3-pointers scored in his first two tournament games; Oakland’s win will remain etched into memory forever. I guarantee you John Calipari will not forget them.

4) The Wolfpack come out of nowhere

With Louisville leading at halftime of their first game at the ACC tournament, the fire under Coach Keatts’ seat had never been more significant. But they responded in spades by winning five consecutive games over five days to claim the ACC tournament championship and an auto-bid into the NCAA tournament. NC State has now won seven consecutive games within 12 days to earn its spot back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2015. D.J. Burns’ turnaround has been hugely impactful, scoring double figures three times through 31 regular season games only once before hitting that threshold six times during this seven-game winning streak by shooting 54.5% from 3.

5) Illinois proves the Big Ten is more than just Purdue

Iowa State will present Illinois with a significant challenge in the Sweet 16 in Boston. This season, they led the country in forcing turnovers, scoring 21 of their 67 points off turnovers against Washington State during their second-round victory. However, their defensive pressure can often wear down opponents. Illinois should be equipped to deal with it. With Domask as their veteran point guard and Shannon providing scoring threat capabilities, they have an excellent chance to defeat Iowa State and move onto UConn for the Elite Eight.

6) The Transfer Portal has hurt the overall quality of play

I am all for players getting paid, but the unlimited yearly movement in the transfer portal hurts the quality of play in the Tournament. It is bound to happen as a lot of teams are replacing 50 per cent of their players each year through the transfer portal. Just look at the amount of players already in the transfer portal for next year. It also affects high school players who find it harder and harder to find spots on Division One teams as freshmen. Something needs to be done about this issue, but my guess is nothing will be done about it.

7) Indiana State should have been in this tournament

If you watched Birginia’s first four battles against Colorado State and didn’t think it should have been Indiana State playing Colorado State, you are crazy. Virginia spent the last month of the season trying to get to 50 points. In comparison, Indiana State dropped over 100 points in a first-round NIT game against SMU. The Sycamore had a NET Ranking of 29th and some great players that would have made the tournament even more exciting. Guts like Robbie Avila and Jayson Kent. The Sycamores are an exciting team; the Virginia Cavaliers are painful to watch.

8) Alabama is a well-coached team

Head Coach Nate Oats’s team is disciplined. They play with effort and enthusiasm, and they had to in order to get by Grand Canyon on Sunday. Bama can win it all because they play hard and effective basketball. When they are on top of their game, they are an excellent defensive basketball team. They held Grand Canyon to just three made three-point shots, and Grand Canyon always looked uncomfortable in their half-court offense.

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