In three very close games, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Indiana all made the Big Ten Conference look great with wins over Gonzaga, Vanderbilt and Virginia Commonwealth respectively.
Ohio State 73, Gonzaga 66
No. 2 Ohio State was gearing up to face one of their biggest opponents yet in the tournament, No.7 Gonzaga. Both teams have been here before. It was a matter of who wanted it more.
Everyone knows Jared Sullinger can have a bit of a temper, however knowing what is at stake; he led the Buckeyes to a 73-66 win over Gonzaga. Though he got in a bit of foul trouble, he channeled his anger to scoring point. In the last three minutes he successfully completed two easy lay-ups for a securing lead for the Buckeyes.
Both Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas had a total of 18 points, while Aaron Craft followed not far behind with 17 points and 10 assists.
Today’s game between Florida State and Cincinnati will determine who meets Ohio State in Boston for the Sweet 16.
Wisconsin 60, Vanderbilt 57
Wisconsin and Vanderbilt are neck and neck in this tournament. With similar records and the fourth and fifth seeds, there was nothing boring about this one.
The biggest concern for the Commodores was going to be Ryan Evans and Cody Zeller. For the Badgers, it was a matter of if they could get a handle on John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor.
Fortunately for the Badgers, they have one of the best defenses in the nation. They were able to hold Jenkins to 13 points, when normally her averages roughly about 20 points per game. One shot of which stood out from the rest was his only three pointer of the night and came at just the right time, while the Commodores trailed the Badgers 59-57 in the final seconds of the game.
Taylor was only about to get to the bucket a few times ranking in 9 points for the Commodores. Taylor normally lands about 16 points per game.
With 2:25 remaining in the game, the Commodores tried to scare the Badgers by going on a 13-3 run. However, the Badgers did not want to repeat last year, when they lost to Butler, the Badgers wanted another story.
Rebounds are everything, and the Badgers grabbed two offensive ones in the final minute to give them two second chance shots, scoring on both plays. When Wisconsin said they wanted to come out and give it their all they mean it.
Even for a player like Josh Gasser, who woke up sick and was hooked up to IV’s earlier in the day, did his part of final second madness getting two easy points after a few missed shots from teammates. He then received an opportunity to take a 1-and-1 but missed the front half, giving Vanderbilt another shot at the Sweet 16.
The Badgers defense held off and took the game 60-57. They will be advancing to Boston to play Syracuse.
Could there be a match-up of Big Ten teams in the Elite Eight? Ohio State and Wisconsin sure hope so.
Indiana 63, VCU 61
Indiana has come alive again. The Hoosiers are astounding everyone in this tournament and have quickly been a team that everyone is rooting for.
Freshmen Cody Zeller and teammate Christian Watford led the Hoosiers with 16 points in their victory over VCU last night. But he wasn’t, for once, the guy that everyone was thanking for the win. It was a game that could have turned into another crazy upset.
During the game, the biggest lead that VCU had on Indiana was nine. Bradford Burgess missed two foul shots for VCU, which could have helped them gain on the lead with about a minute left. Then Troy Daniels missed a three and Indiana fought back to take the lead.
Between the first and second half it was like night and day for the Hoosiers. In the final twelve and a half minutes, the Hoosiers played their defense and held VCA to only four points. VCU’s Rob Brandenberg’s three-point shot, rimmed off late in the second.
After Victor Oladipo put up a shot that was blocked by VCU’s Darius Theus, Indiana thought their season was close to an end.
Indiana has Will Sheehey to thank for his quick wit grabbing the loose ball and sinking a jumper at one of the last seconds to secure the win.
This trip to the Sweet 16 marks the first time in a decade for the Hoosiers. They will match up with Kentucky in Atlanta.