The best and worst of everything from March Madness Day 3

For those of you complaining that the 2017 NCAA tournament had yet to produce a major upset, day three gave you that and much, much more.

Sometimes, non-stop college basketball action featuring the best teams in the country for two days straight isn’t enough to please people. Sometimes people want everything stated above along with results that surprise them and dramatic finishes that make them jump out of their seats.

The first two days of the 2017 NCAA tournament may not have provided that, but Saturday’s slate of second-round action at least gave us one of those things. The third day of the Big Dance gave us our first No. 1 seed going down, our first double-digit seed advancing to week two, and our biggest officiating controversy to date.

As is the case with any day in the Big Dance, there was a lot of good, a lot of bad, and a little bit of weird. Let’s take a look at it all.


(8) Wisconsin Badgers 65, (1) Villanova Wildcats 62 (East)

There will be a new national champion in college basketball this year, because the reigning king of the sport and the 2017 tournament’s No. 1 overall seed is no more. Villanova was sent home before the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in eight years thanks to a tremendous effort from a Wisconsin team that wanted to remind the country that no team has won more March Madness games since 2014 than the Badgers.

A back-and-forth affair resulted in the contest being tied at 62 in the final seconds. With the game on the line, Wisconsin’s most experienced player, Nigel Hayes, made a tremendous move to score what would prove to be the game-winning basket.

Vitto Brown then made a clean strip of Villanova’s Josh Hart on the other end to seal the victory and send the Badgers to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season. There is no other team in the country that can make that claim.


1. West Virginia

On paper, Notre Dame seemed like the worst possible second-round matchup for West Virginia. The Mountaineers win games by using their trademark pressure to feed off of opponents’ mistakes. The Fighting Irish don’t make many mistakes. They entered Saturday’s game ranking second in the nation in fewest turnovers per game, and were leading the nation in both assist-to-turnover ratio and team free-throw percentage.

Somehow, the Mountaineers still forced a team with that makeup to play right into their hands. West Virginia forced Notre Dame into 14 turnovers (six above their season average), and held them to 10-of-28 shooting from beyond the arc, and to 40.7 percent overall from the field as a team.

Because of plays like that, the Mountaineers are moving on to San Jose to face Gonzaga in the Sweet 16.

2. Xavier

This was a team that probably wouldn’t have even made the field of 68 if it had lost its first game in the Big East tournament. Now it’s rolling into the Sweet 16 after an 11-point win over sixth-seeded Maryland, and a 25-point drubbing of third-seeded Florida State. Teams that make deep runs in March typically have star guards who are playing their best basketball of the season, and that’s the case with the Musketeers and Trevon Bluiett.

3. Butler

The Bulldogs may have been the most enigmatic team of the regular season, so nobody really knew what to expect from them in this tournament. The fact that they were able to dispatch of Middle Tennessee — a team much stronger than its seed would indicate — with such ease is an extremely positive sign when it comes to their outlook moving forward. North Carolina likely awaits them in Memphis


1. Florida State

Sure, Villanova was the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed and got beat in the second round, but at least they were competitive. Florida State was playing a team seeded eight lines below (more than the differential between ‘Nova and Wisconsin) and was blown out from basically the opening tip to the final horn, which occurred with the scoreboard showing 91-66. The American public didn’t seem to have a whole lot of faith in Leonard Hamilton’s team heading into the tournament, and on Saturday the Seminoles proved all their detractors correct.

2. Virginia

We could talk about the fact that they only scored 39 points or we could talk about their history of March disappointments. Instead of doing either of those things, we’re simply going to sum this game up in four seconds.

3. Villanova

Look, it was a hard-fought game and Wisconsin’s not your typical eight seed. We get it. But you’re still the No. 1 overall seed in this tournament. You can’t fall in roundtwo and not find yourself on this list.


Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin

The senior hasn’t had the All-American season that some were predicting four months ago, but he was at his best when his team needed him the most. Hayes grabbed eight rebounds and scored 19 points, including what proved to be the game-winning basket with 11 seconds to play.

Caleb Swanigan, Purdue

The box score super star did his thing again, scoring 20 points, snagging 12 rebounds and dishing out seven assists in Purdue’s 80-76 win over Iowa State.

Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame

The Bonz almost single-handedly kept Notre Dame within striking distance of West Virginia, scoring 27 points and drilling 4-of-5 shots from beyond the arc. Unfortunately he was the only Fighting Irish starter who shot better than 50 percent from the field.

Jevon Carter, West Virginia

Every time Notre Dame started to mount a rally, Carter was right there to drill a back-breaking three-pointer at the end of the shot clock. The junior guard finished with a team-high 24 points and connected on four of his five attempts from deep.

Trevon Bluiett, Xavier

The Musketeer star continued his monster March by dropping 29 points in Xavier’s demolition of Florida State.


1. The missed goaltending call on Gonzaga

After trailing by as many as 22 points, Northwestern had whittled Gonzaga’s lead all the way down to five with just under five minutes to play. The Wildcats had the ball and all the momentum in the world and an apparent uncontested lay-up to cut the lead to three. Instead, Dererk Pardon’s dunk attempt was blocked by Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, who had appeared to come up through the rim for an obvious goaltend. No goaltending was called.

Yeah, that’s supposed to be two points.

Northwestern coach Chris Collins ran onto the court and went ballistic, prompting a technical foul call and stopping Northwestern’s momentum dead in its tracks. The Wildcats fought during the game’s final minutes, but could never get any closer than they were before the missed call.

Chris Collins’ reaction after the game when he was told that a missed call had in fact taken place was pretty priceless.

There’s no guarantee that the final outcome would have been different if the proper call had been made, but there’s also no doubt that the sequence completely changed the direction that the game was heading.

2. Defending national champions continuing to disappoint

As the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, Villanova had appeared to be in prime position to become college basketball’s first back-to-back national champion in a decade. Instead, the Wildcats became the latest victim of a troubling trend. Not only were the 2006-07 Florida Gators the only defending national champion since 1992 to retain their crown, but they’re the only defending national champions in the last 16 years to even make it back to the Elite 8.

Heavy is the head.

3. Verne Lundquist getting hit in the face with a basketball

When 99 percent of the world gets unexpectedly drilled in the face with a basketball, it’s hilarious. When Uncle Verne does, it’s an act of terrorism.

I don’t care if it was intentional or not, the guilty party must be brought to justice.

Thankfully, Verne is a pro’s pro who played through the pain and even made light of the incident during the West Virginia-Notre Dame broadcast.

4. The ACC

The ACC, widely regarded throughout the season as the best conference in college basketball, sent three of its top teams into action on Saturday — No. 3 seed Florida State, No. 5 seed Notre Dame, and No. 5 seed Virginia. The teams combined to lose their three games by a total score of 239-176. That’s bad.

The ACC has had a subpar tournament overall so far, but it still has No. 1 seed North Carolina, No. 2 seed Duke and No. 2 seed Louisville all still in play. Those three will play for spots in the Sweet 16 on Sunday.

5. Monte Morris’ college career coming to an end

Iowa State’s loss to Purdue marked the end of Monte Morris’ college career, which might be the most under-appreciated of any in recent memory.

Morris set the NCAA record for assist-to-turnover ratio in a season when he was a freshman, and then nearly broke it a year later. As a four-year starter for the Cyclones, he finished his college career playing in 142 games. He turned the ball over only 165 times. How ridiculous is that? Morris could have committed 59 straight turnovers without an assists in the NCAA tournament, and he still would have left college basketball as the sport’s all-time leader in career assist-to-turnover ratio.

Shine on, Monte. The college game will miss you.


1. Upsets!

Look, I would have settled for something as simple as a top-two seed being pushed to the brink. Kudos to the tournament for going above and beyond and giving us the No. 1 overall seed bounced in a thriller and a No. 3 seed getting run off the court by a No. 11. Even West Virginia-Notre Dame and Florida-Virginia were surprises in terms of the way they went down.

You’re keeping us on our toes now. We appreciate that.

2. Dancing usher

Not, like, Usher Usher … this usher

So better.

Seriously, shoutout to this guy for being the only thing remotely entertaining about Xavier-Florida State for non-Musketeer fans.

3. Vitto Brown’s singing voice

You may have known that Vitto Brown helped Wisconsin knock off Villanova with his 10 points and his defense on Josh Hart in the final seconds. But did you know he had pipes like this?

The next time CBS elects to switch up One Shining Moment (side note: please don’t do this), I would be fine with Vitto Brown being the one who goes into the booth.

4. The Caleb Swanigan vs. Deonte Burton showdown

Two of the best bigs in the country went head to head Saturday night, and the result was perhaps the most entertaining second half of the entire day. Both Swanigan and Burton showed off their complete skillsets, and both exposed the biggest flaws in the other.

Burton was able to score at will on Swanigan when he was able to bring him out high and either take him off the bounce or get a clean look at an outside shot. Swanigan, meanwhile, had his way with Burton when he caught the ball deep on the block and the Cyclones didn’t bring a double team.

The result was that the two terrific players combined for 45 points and 16 rebounds.

5. The middle school Caleb Swanigan basketball highlights

You’ve never seen middle school dominance like this before.

In all seriousness Swanigan’s story of body transformation is remarkable, and it’s great to see it paying off for him in the biggest of ways.


1. Kadeem Allen, Arizona

Don’t jump. Never jump.

2. Deonte Burton, Iowa State

The big man for the Cyclones had a monster game going head to head with Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan.

3. Vic Law, Northwestern

Law’s put-back dunk came at the height of Northwestern’s run against Gonzaga.


A terrific shot here of the no-call that changed it all.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Gonzaga vs Northwestern Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports


“They play on ESPN every game, so I’ve just seen them play a few times. But it’s nothing special, nothing we can’t do. We’re not scared to say any team on this planet earth so we’re ready and we’ll be ready to play tomorrow.”

—Wichita State’s Darral Willis Jr. discussing his team’s second-round game against Kentucky on Sunday


We’ve got one more day left of the weekend that makes March mad. Soak it up, because it figures to be fantastic.

No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 7 Michigan, 12:10 p.m.

Midwest region | Indianapolis, Ind.

TV: CBS | Announcers: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 10 Wichita State, 2:40 p.m.*

South region | Indianapolis, Ind.

TV: CBS | Announcers: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 9 Michigan State, 5:15 p.m.

Midwest region | Tulsa, Okla.

TV: CBS | Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Dana Jacobson

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 8 Arkansas, 6:10 p.m.

South region | Greenville, S.C.

TV: TNT | Announcers: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber, Lewis Johnson

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 11 Rhode Island, 7:10 p.m.

Midwest region | Sacramento, Calif.

TV: TBS | Announcers: Spero Dedes, Steve Smith, Len Elmore, Ros Gold-Onwude

No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 11 USC, 7:45 p.m.*

East region | Tulsa, Okla.

TV: truTV | Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Dana Jacobson

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 South Carolina, 8:40 p.m.*

East region | Greenville, S.C.

TV: TNT | Announcers: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber, Lewis Johnson

No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 6 Cincinnati, 9:40 p.m.*

South region | Sacramento, Calif.

TV: TBS | Announcers: Spero Dedes, Steve Smith, Len Elmore, Ros Gold-Onwude

*Start time is approximate. Will tip off shortly after first game ends. – All Posts