NCAA Tournament 2014: Winners and Losers of Day 7
After a brief hiatus, the madness has returned.
While not quite as dramatic or shocking as the first week of the NCAA tournament, Thursday's games included everything that makes March special: Cinderellas continued dancing, favorites were solidified, stars were born and stars were courtside.
The first four Elite Eight teams have been set. Dayton, Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona are now only 40 minutes away from the Final Four.
Here are all of the winners and losers from the first half of the Sweet 16.
Winner: Miller Brothers
It was a good day to be a Miller brother.
In the first batch of games, little brother Archie Miller led his Cinderella Dayton Flyers to the Elite Eight with an 82-72 win over Stanford. Later in the night, older brother Sean steered the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats to a 70-64 win versus a feisty SDSU team to join him.
Sean and his Wildcats were supposed to be one of the last eight teams standing, but 35-year-old Archie put the Flyers ahead of schedule this NCAA tournament by upsetting Ohio State and Syracuse and taking care of business in the Sweet 16.
Archie and Sean are the first pair of brothers to ever coach in the same Elite Eight. That's quite a family tree.
OK, so No. 11 seed Dayton beat No. 10 seed Stanford, but besides that, the lower-seeded teams had a terrible day in the Sweet 16.
No. 6 seed Baylor was run over by No. 2 seed Wisconsin, losing 69-52, No. 4 seed UCLA ran out of gas at the end of its game against No. 1 seed Florida, falling 79-68, and No. 4 seed SDSU couldn't close against No. 1 seed Arizona.
For all of the upsets that cause intrigue during the first week of the tournament, the second week is being dominated by the powerhouses so far.
Winner: Dayton's Bench
Pretty much everything went right for Dayton on Thursday as it took out Stanford 82-72 to make the Elite Eight for the first time since 1984.
But what was particularly impressive was the depth and balance that the Flyers showed on offense. They had four players score in double figures, and their bench outscored Stanford's 34-2.
In the battle of Cinderellas, it was Dayton which showed the teamwork and poise to keep dancing.
"We had 11 guys score in the game and from top to bottom, we kept coming and coming," said Flyers coach Archie Miller, according to The Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "The way they shared the ball and moved the ball ... it was a true team effort. It's nice that on the biggest stage, we acted like ourselves."
Loser: Stanford's Perimeter Defense
Stanford looked nothing like the team that upset New Mexico and Kansas last week to make a surprise appearance in the Sweet 16. Simply put, the Cardinal looked lost on the court from the beginning of their loss to Dayton.
Their perimeter defense was particularly suspect. Dayton made eight three-pointers, including six in the first half to set the tone for the high-scoring game.
Stanford's stingy, aggressive defense helped it win two tournament games, but on Thursday the Cardinal were out of position, sloppy and slow, allowing the Dayton offense to run away with the game. Stanford only lost by 10, but it never felt that close.
Winner: Frank Kaminsky
The No. 2 seed Wisconsin Badgers destroyed the No. 6 seed Baylor Bears 69-52 on Thursday, and it was Frank Kaminsky who led the way.
Kaminsky set the tone on offense and defense, scoring a game-high 19 points and blocking six shots. The 7'0" junior was a force in the paint as he helped his teammates shred the much-hyped Baylor zone defense.
Wisconsin is now headed to its first Elite Eight since 2005, where it will try and take coach Bo Ryan to the first Final Four of his career.
Loser: Baylor's Rebounds
Baylor was one of the better rebounding teams in the country this season, checking in at No. 24 with 38.7 rebounds per game, and the underdog Bears were supposed to have an edge over the Wisconsin Badgers in that category. That didn't quite happen.
Wisconsin had Baylor on its heels all night long, and the Badgers ended up out-rebounding the Bears 39-33.
C.L. Brown of ESPN.com explained how the Badgers got the edge:
The key for Wisconsin was having its guards rebound. Josh Gasser had a team-high eight and Jackson added seven. The Bears had averaged 14.0 second-chance points per game, but were held scoreless in the category in the first half and finished with just seven.
Winner: Michael Frazier II from Beyond the Arc
Earlier this year, Michael Frazier II made 11 three-pointers against South Carolina, the most ever in an SEC game and the most in Florida basketball history.
He didn't quite do that Thursday night, but he did make quite an impact. Frazier went 5-of-8 from three-point range and scored 19 points to lead the Florida Gators to their fourth straight Elite Eight.
Other Gators such as Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather were clutch for Florida down the stretch of its 79-68 victory over UCLA, but Frazier was the star of this Sweet 16 game.
Loser: Sean Miller's Tie
Arizona did not have a very good first half. San Diego State out-rebounded the No. 1 seed 24-14 (with Josh Davis responsible for 11), and the Wildcats went into the locker room trailing 32-28 at the half.
A red-faced, screaming Sean Miller was a constant presence on the sidelines, frustrated by his team's foul troubles and general flatness. He took out his aggression on his tie, jerking it so much it was nearly sideways by halftime.
Luckily, after becoming the butt of a few jokes on social media, Miller came out with a straightened tie and a tougher team in the second half, and Arizona survived to make the Elite Eight.
Winner: Aaron Gordon's Alley-Oop
This was just ridiculous.
In the second half of the scrappy game against San Diego State University, Arizona's Aaron Gordon wowed the crowd with this alley-oop dunk that defied physics. If you watch the video, it literally looks like he's flying through the air while holding onto the ball with one hand and guiding it into the basket.
Gordon scored 15 points and had six rebounds, and his athleticism helped keep SDSU star Josh Davis in check in the second half.
His performance also helped balance out a tough day for Nick Johnson, who didn't score for the first 37 minutes of the game but came on strong at the end to score 15 points and seal the win.
Loser: San Diego State's Assists
San Diego State did a lot of things right in its Sweet 16 battle with No. 1 Arizona, but there's one thing it didn't do very well: share.
SDSU finished the game with only four assists, a statistic that seems nearly impossible for a team that scored 64 points and pushed the top seed to the brink.
Xavier Thames scored 25 points for the Aztecs, and Dwayne Polee II added 13, but neither had more than one assist in the entire game.
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