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March Madness progresses to Sweet Sixteen

Duke%27s+Zion+Williamson+and+RJ+Barret+in+a+regular+season+game.+The+duo+have+fueled+Duke%27s+March+Madness+run+this+year.
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March Madness progresses to Sweet Sixteen

Duke's Zion Williamson and RJ Barret in a regular season game. The duo have fueled Duke's March Madness run this year.

Duke's Zion Williamson and RJ Barret in a regular season game. The duo have fueled Duke's March Madness run this year.

Duke's Zion Williamson and RJ Barret in a regular season game. The duo have fueled Duke's March Madness run this year.

Duke's Zion Williamson and RJ Barret in a regular season game. The duo have fueled Duke's March Madness run this year.

Jack Shields and Nick Monroy

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The first two rounds of March Madness 2019 have concluded, and despite a variety of first round upsets it is mostly high seeded favorites that are preparing for the Sweet Sixteen. Still, this past weekend of basketball featured the tight, competitive games that fans are accustomed to.

This year has already displayed three upsets by 12-seeds over 5-seeds, including wins from Murray State, Oregon, and Liberty. 11-seeded Ohio State also pulled out a close 62-59 over Iowa State, and UC Irvine pulled off the tournament’s biggest upset by toppling 4-seed Kansas State in the first round.

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Jack’s Pick: The biggest surprise to this point has been the Oregon Fighting Ducks who are the only double digit seed remaining in the tournament. The Ducks came into the tournament riding a PAC-12 championship run, and carried their momentum right into March Madness. Led by junior guard Payton Pritchard, Oregon put together a dominant first round performance beating a strong Wisconsin team by 18 points, and downing UC Irvine by 19 in the second round. The Ducks will play Virginia in the Sweet Sixteen, and despite being a huge underdog will look to keep their tournament campaign alive.

Nick’s Pick: For the average fan, Ohio Valley Conference’s 12 seed Murray State dismantling of 5 seed Marquette could have been one of the bigger surprises of the tournament. For others, it couldn’t have been an easier pick, thanks to a certain future NBA star. One thing is certain, however. The first round match-up was Racers point guard Ja Morant’s introduction to the national spotlight. The 19 year old absolutely dominated the Golden Eagles, racking up 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 16 assists to put up the first triple-double in the NCAA Tournament since Draymond Green at Michigan State in 2012. Murray State used Morant’s brilliance to absolutely bury Marquette, a team that was on top of the Big East for most of the season, and who in their own right, could be labeled as a massive disappointment. 

Jack’s Pick: The Iowa State Cyclones were a huge letdown this year. The Big 12 champions featured a lineup including senior guard Marial Shayok, projected to be a second round pick in the NBA. Iowa State entered the tournament on a hot streak, coming off of a Big 12 championship win over Kansas State. The Cyclones were a heavy favorite to progress to the Sweet Sixteen, past 3-seeded Houston. Instead, Iowa State was upset by a very inconsistent Ohio State squad in the first round of play.

Nick’s Pick: While this easily could’ve gone to a plethora of team’s the failed to step up at the big dance, their might be no larger disappointment for hometown fans than the Utah State Aggies first round exit at the hands of the Washington Huskies.Not only did the 9-seed Huskies upset the 8-seed Aggies in a match up that is typically a 50/50 split, it was how the Huskies dominated the game from start to finish, winning by 17 points. 

The reason I chose Utah State as the biggest disappoint of the tournament, is because of all the hype that surrounded this exciting team.The Aggies were given an 8-seed, the highest in school history, after a 28-7 record for the year. They also entered the tournament with momentum on their side, winning their last 10 straight games and capturing the Mountain West Conference championship. However, from the opening tip off, the Huskies had them on the ropes. Utah State looked so clearly inferior from start to finish against an opponent that had just one win over a team in the field of 68 (and only because they lost to said team in the Pac-12 tournament title game by 20) was fairly stunning.

Jack’s Final Four: Duke, Gonzaga, Tennessee, Houston

Nick’s Final Four: Michigan St, Gonzaga, Virginia, North Carolina

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