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Best of March Madness: Second Round, Day Two

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Duke falls to Mercer, one seeds struggle, and Stephen F. Austin gets a miracle.

Best of March Madness: Second Round, Day Two

The madness from Thursday carried over into the second portion of the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament yesterday. Duke got upended, a 16 seed led against a one seed in the second half, and we even got another overtime game (even though it should have never been). Let's dive into the action.

Player of the Day: Bryce Cotton, Providence

Even in a loss, Cotton was easily gave the strongest effort of anyone on Friday. Cotton almost got his team the upset over six seed UNC, but poor rebounding down the stretch came to haunt the Friars. Cotton poured in 36 points, grabbed five rebounds and also dished out eight assists. He was all over the place for Providence, but it just wasn't enough.

Honorable Mention: Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee (26 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal); Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State (23 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 steals); Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga (26 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals); Julius Randle, Kentucky (19 points, 15 rebounds, 1 block); Jordan Adams, UCLA (21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals)

Upset of the Day: (14) Mercer over (3) Duke

The Mercer Bears pulled the biggest shocker of the tournament so far by upending the third-seeded Duke Blue Devils. Every one of Duke's red flags was flying high yesterday. Their suspect was the biggest reason for the loss. Mercer sliced them up with well-executed pick-and-rolls all game and got great looks inside as a result. Mercer shot over 55% for the game, and when you let a team shoot that well, chances are you aren't going to beat them. Duke's three-point shooting, which they relied on for nearly 35% of their points during the season, wasn't enough. Even though they made 40% of their threes, they took 37 and missed 22.

Duke's best player, freshman Jabari Parker, also picked a bad time to have one of his worst games in a while. Parker only scored 14 points to go with just seven rebounds (well below his averages of 19 and 9). Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook helped pick up the scoring, but it wasn't nearly enough to counter Mercer's balance (five in double figures with Jakob Gollon putting in 20). It was a well-deserved win for Mercer and another disappointing early round exit for Duke.

Bonus points for Mercer guard Kevin Cenarvi for giving us what will uncertainly be the GIF of the entire tournament on just its second day:

Most Heartbreaking Loss: VCU

I'm going to get into this more in a separate article, but VCU didn't deserve to lose this game. Up four, a phantom foul call on a made three-pointer with just four seconds left gave Stephen F. Austin the opportunity to tie things up. They did, then beat VCU in overtime. It's an awful way for a super competitive team to go out, and a real shame it had to end that way.

Biggest Onions: Desmond Haymon, Stephen F. Austin

He didn't get fouled, but Haymon still came up with the shot of the day. When you drill a must-have three in the final five seconds that helps your team force overtime, that takes some serious cool.

Unsung Heroes

Friday was all about some little-known guys stepping up. In Kansas' win over Eastern Kentucky, two underclassmen came up huge. Sophomore forward Jamari Traylor, who usually only sees about 15 minutes of action, played a big 22 and racked up 17 points and 14 rebounds. Freshman guard Conner Frankamp, who gets about eight minutes and only averages around two points a game, saw 25 minutes of action. He made them count, putting up 10 points and getting four assists (with no turnovers).

One seed Virginia was in a precarious position against 16 seed Coastal Carolina. They trailed by five at halftime, and even after taking the lead, Coastal Carolina refused to go away well into the second half. Sophomore forward Evan Nolte, who only sees nine minutes a game and averages just under three points a game, hit two huge threes and another two in the second half to give Virginia the cushion they needed to really stretch things out and put the 16 seed in its place.

One Shining Bracket

There is still one bracket that has yet to be busted. It belongs to Brad Binder, and it is still perfect as of this moment. 

Defining Images

The Stanford band after beating New Mexico (via SI.com)

Jabari Parker after the upset to Mercer:

Evan Nolte after the win:

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