Setting The Stage For The Sweet Sixteen

Trevi Alickolli, Social Media Editor

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March is almost over, but March Madness is still in full force. The dust has settled now that Ja-madness and seven-foot-six-inch Tacko Fall are no longer in the dance. Despite that, top seeds remain the favorite while there is a number 12 seed attempting to bust everyone’s brackets.

After the first and second round of madness, the slate has been set for the Sweet 16.

Unlike past years, there has been domination in the first two rounds, there have been upsets and a few buzzer beaters, a component that usually makes the madness unlike anything else.

America’s champions, Duke, took care of business in the first round, as they should have, against North Dakota State, then proceeded to almost lose against Central Florida. The Knights had two shots to upset the number one seed in the closing seconds, but neither went in.

UCF’s Aubrey Dawkins was determined to knock off the Blue Devils as he was on fire for most of the game, shooting 66 percent from the field including five three-pointers. Dawkins finished the game with 32 points but was outdueled by likely future top NBA Draft pick, Zion Williamson.

Williamson scored 32 points while coming up huge in the closing minutes of the game to push his team to the Sweet 16.

In the South region, the number 12 and 13 seeds upset the four and five seeds in the round of 64. Oregon defeated Wisconsin while UC Irvine took down Kansas State.

One thing that has lacked in this tournament is buzzer beaters. LSU’s Tremont Waters was perhaps the closest we saw in the early rounds when the sophomore guard hit a driving layup with 1.6 seconds remaining in the game to give his team a 69-67 win over Maryland.

Heading into LSU’s matchup against Michigan State, Waters is averaging 13.5 points per game and 6 assists. The former Notre Dame (West Haven) product is representing Connecticut well.

After a couple of rest days, the round of 16 is scheduled to kick off Thursday. This is the first time in the history of the NCAA Tournament that all one, two and three seeds are all still in this far into the dance.

All across the board, there are great matchups. Perhaps one of the best matchups in this round is Tennessee versus Purdue.

Purdue has been one of the hottest teams in the tournament and Tennessee is averaging 80 points per game while shooting over 45 percent as a team from the field. This game will also feature the leading individual scorer in the tournament so far, Purdue guard Carson Edwards, who is averaging 34 ppg over two games played and is shooting over 45 percent from three. Two of the top three highest scoring teams in the tournament will be facing each other on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

North Carolina, averaging 84.5 ppg, is taking on Auburn, who is averaging 83.5 themselves.

There should be fireworks on Friday night, but there should be fireworks the rest of the tournament as we get closer and closer to the Elite Eight, the Final Four and finally, the National Championship Game.