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Round Three Odds and Ends

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

No upsets on Saturday, but stellar play made for a great day of NCAA Tournament basketball.

Round Three Odds and Ends

If Friday turned to into March Madness, Saturday technically turned back into March Monotony (to quote that awful Greg Anthony commercial that will never leave my brain).  But it really wasn't monotony.  All eight games provided moments of drama and excellence as eight teams advanced to the Sweet 16.

Best Game: #4 Indiana 63 - #12 VCU 61

This game gave us the closest thing we've had to a genuine game-winning shot all tournament.  VCU led Indiana for much of the game thanks to their incredible pressure.  Shaka Smart's defense forced an incredible 22 turnovers, which fueled VCU fast breaks and other easy buckets.  As Indiana stretched out their lead to 9 with over 12 minutes left and then 5 with just over two minutes left, it looked like Indiana wouldn't be able to recover, especially with that intense defense.

But Indiana coach Tom Crean said afterwards his team showed a resolve that he'd never seen before during a late timeout.  Not only did Indiana handle the pressure and get terrific looks inside, but they clamped down on the defensive end, forcing tough VCU shots.  Victor Oladipo converted an and-one with less than a minute left to tie the game at 61.  After a VCU miss, Oladipo grabbed the rebound and raced down the court with 20 seconds left.  Here's what happened next, courtesy of The Big Lead:

Who said the mid-range jumper is a lost art?  Will Sheehey calmly knocked down the shot to give Indiana the lead and, consequently, send them to the Sweet 16.  Also weird, the statisticians somehow ended up giving Oladipo an assist on that exchange, even though he clearly had his shot blocked.

I doubted Indiana's ability to handle this pressure ably enough to pull off the win, especially after losing senior guard Verdell Jones III during the Big East Tournament.  While they struggled with the pressure, they were strong enough to come out on top.

Biggest Surprise: Brady Heslip's Explosion

With all high seeds winning, there really were no surprises in the actual results.  But I don't think anyone expected Baylor's Brady Heslip to erupt for nine three pointers against 11 seed Colorado.  Baylor's marksman is a very good shooter (he had made 15 threes in his past four games) but he was in the zone last night.  Heslip took 13 shots.  12 of those were threes, and he made nine of them to spur Baylor's 80-63 victory.  Heslip's hot shooting opened up the lane for Pierre Jackson's drives and made up for the low-scoring nights of Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller.  

In the rare occasion that Heslip ever misses again, Jones and Miller would do well to pick up the slack on the offensive end for Baylor.  I'm guessing John Calipari and Kentucky will have him guarded tightly.

Biggest What-If: Some Late, Rimmed-Out Threes

Because all of the games were close, teams that trailed had plenty of chances to knock down big shots.  Both Vanderbilt and Gonzaga had great opportunities to tie their games or put their teams ahead late, but both fell short.

With Vanderbilt down three, John Jenkins, who made more three pointers this year than any other player in college basketball, had his open look hit the back iron.  It was as close to a perfect shot as you could get without it going in, and Vanderbilt couldn't corral the rebound (amidst a ton of contact down low).  

For Gonzaga, freshman point guard Kevin Pangos was at the end of a very tough game.  Aaron Craft had guarded him intensely for most of the game, and like he is wont to do, forced Pangos into a poor shooting performance.  Pangos had a terrific look late after David Stockton drove and kicked to him in the corner.  His three rattled in-and-out, and it was his sixth missed three of the game.  

Top Performers:

Brady Heslip, Baylor: 29 points (9-12 from three) 1 rebound, 1 steal in the 80-63 win over Colorado.
Marquis Teague, Kenetucky: 24 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal in the 87-71 win over Iowa State.
Royce White, Iowa State: 23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block in the 71-87 loss to Kentucky.
Aaron Craft, Ohio State: 17 points, 10 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals in the 73-67 win over Gonzaga.
Drew Gordon, New Mexico: 21 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal in the 56-59 loss to Louisville.
Jae Crowder, Marquette: 17 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks in the 62-53 win over Murray State.

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to the NCAA Tournament Final Four in New Orleans.

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