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NCAA Tournament: Michigan State, Witchita State Crash the Sweet 16
By Reel Robinson

Tom Izzo

The Sweet 16 is set. Sunday ended the already exciting weekend with more drama and created compelling matchups for the next round. The NCAA Tournament has been nothing but a consistent reminder that the line between mid-major and the big name schools has dwindled. The competition levels have risen to a new level where the upsets are far in between. Calling these games upsets are a disservice to the victors. After Sunday's games, there is no doubt that college basketball landscape has evened out.  

The biggest upset on Sunday was No. 2 Virginia going down to No. 7 Michigan State. Led by legendary coach Tom Izzo, Michigan State started the season sloppy and slow, but they've found their groove and have played some of the best basketball of the season at the right moment. I thought they could be scary coming into the tournament and their performance against Virginia proved it. Their victory creates a Sweet 16 matchup with No. 3 seed Oklahoma. The Sooners looked very good, defeating No. 11 seed Dayton to stamp their bid to the next round. The Big 12 has had a subpar tournament so far, but Oklahoma is looking strong and representing well.

No. 2 Kansas took on instate opponent No. 7 Wichita State, and the Jayhawks had no answer for their rival. Granted, Wichita State has been competitive in chasing championships the last few seasons so it was no surprise on how they handled Kansas. The Jayhawks are a team that lacks offense at times. Wichita State took advantage and knocked a favorite out of the tournament early once again. The Shockers play the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in the Sweet 16.

No. 2 Gonzaga took down No. 7 Iowa rather convincing (87-68). They will face the UCLA Bruins, a team who was told they didn't deserve to be in the tournament following Selection Sunday. The Bruins have something prove, as they prepare for this Sweet 16 matchup.

Sunday’s action displayed two No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchups. Louisville went up against Northern Iowa, after both teams had strong first-round victories. The Cardinals ended up being a bit too much for Northern Iowa, winning 66-53. Guard Terry Rozier put up 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting. West Virginia beat Maryland in the other No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup. The Mountaineers victory sets up a coaching matchup between Bob Huggins and John Calipari. Their history dates back to their years in conference USA, where Huggins and his Cincinnati teams had success against Calipari and Memphis. We will see if this will bring about any rivalry or banter between the two competitors. Kentucky, 36-0, may start to feel the pressure.

Both Duke and Wisconsin handled their buisness. The Blue Devils looked like they were prime for a deep run in this tournament with their big man Jahlil Okafur scoring 26 points and their team defense frustrating a good San Diego State team all game long. The Aztecs were no match. Duke faces Utah in the next round. Wisconsin faced much more adversity than Duke did, but they still got the job done against Oregon. The Badgers win pushed all but one No. 1 seed to the Sweet 16.

The competition is heating up and the best of the best have navigated their way to the Sweet 16. The first weekend of March Madness has been amazing, and I can only hope for the same next weekend.


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