Syracuse and Michigan hooked up in the second game of the day and you’re forgiven if you dozed off.
This snoozefest, hoops the way Jim Boeheim likes it, resulted in a 25-22 halftime lead for No. 3-seed Michigan State. But if you napped, you missed a game that went from mild to wild as Matt McQuaid fielded his own missed field goal and heaved up the buzzer beater.
WHAT. A. FINISH.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 18, 2018
Haas out, Haarms in: Isaac Haas, Purdue’s 7-foot-2 center, gave it his best shot, warming up Sunday with a bulky black brace on the right elbow he fractured two days ago, but the NCAA ruled that he could not play against Butler.
As it turned out, 7-3 backup Matt Haarms filled in admirably and the Boilermakers held on for a 76-73 victory that sends them to a Friday game in Boston against Texas Tech in the Sweet 16. Vincent Edwards led Purdue with 20 points.
“Next man up, next man up,” Haarms, and his magnificent head of hair, told CBS. “[Haas] was a great voice for us on the bench, mentoring me. … This was for him. I’m so excited right now. I’m so happy. … It’s on to next week.”
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) March 18, 2018
Purdue previously had ruled Haas out for the rest of the tournament, but the NCAA was definitive, determining that the brace did not meet the safety standards outlined in its rule book.
Schedule and results (All times Eastern):
- Purdue 76, Butler 73
- 2:40 p.m. No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 11 Syracuse (CBS)
- 5:15 p.m. No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 7 Texas A&M (CBS)
- 6:10 p.m. No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Nevada (TNT)
- 7:10 p.m. No. 4 Auburn vs. No. 5 Clemson (TBS)
- 7:45 p.m. No. 9 Kansas State vs. No. 16 UMBC (truTV)
- 8:40 p.m. No. 1 Xavier vs. No. 9 Florida State (TNT)
- 9:40 p.m. No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 13 Marshall (TBS)
If you’re wondering where one of the most adorable mascots in sports was, Butler Blue III, the school’s mascot, was denied admittance to the arena because NCAA rules (those again) bar live mascots during the early rounds, when so many teams and so many games make for a chaotic scene for humans, let alone animals. Schools can ask for an exception for the Final Four, but this good doggie is headed home.
Unfortunately, due to NCAA rules, this is as close as I’ll get to the action this weekend. No matter, because I have plenty to keep me busy in the Detroit area. You can’t keep a good Dawg down. #DawgsInDetroit #GoDawgs #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/iRhsOkOShY
— Butler Blue III (@ButlerBlue3) March 15, 2018
Higher powers, if not higher seeds, at work: “By the grace of God, I made the shot.” — Michigan’s Jordan Poole, after his buzzer beater stunned Houston early Sunday morning.
There’s been a lot of that going around. If last year’s rather predictable early days of the NCAA tournament lulled fans, this year’s is demanding attention for every single game. Just look at Saturday.
There was third-seeded Michigan advancing to the Sweet 16 early Sunday morning, holding off an upset bid by No. 6 Houston hours after No. 11 Loyola Chicago stunned No. 3 Tennessee with a buzzer beater of its own. The Ramblers won with a buzzer beater, too. A higher power might have been at work here, as well, summoned by 98 year-old team chaplain Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt.
“I told them we were going to win and we could do it and God would be on our side,” Schmidt told TNT.
It’s as if teams suddenly remembered and began believing in themselves and the power of possibility after watching UMBC (Maryland Baltimore County for those who have been asking) shock Virginia late Friday night.
If a No. 16 seed can knock off a No. 1 for the first time in men’s tournament history, why not us, they seem to be reasoning.
Sunday brings another day of possibilities. We’re looking at you now, Butler, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Nevada, Clemson, UMBC, Florida State and Marshall. With brackets thoroughly busted, why not root for the underdogs?
UMBC has a new fan: The Chesapeake Bay Retrievers (very, very good dogs) will try for another upset against Kansas State and there’s one very high-profile newbie on the pooches’ bandwagon now, a certain Green Bay Packers quarterback named Aaron Rodgers who admitted in a tweet “#umbcfannow.”
He hopped aboard after Zach Seidel, who runs UMBC’s fabulous Twitter account, mentioned that Joe Sherburne, who is from Whitefish Bay, Wis., is a fan of the QB. Sherburne, in fact, imitated Rodgers’s celebratory discount-doublecheck championship belt move after scoring Friday night.
Hi @AaronRodgers12 your biggest fan Joe Sherburne just hit an and-1 and a 3 to put us, a 16 seed, up 6
— UMBC Athletics (@UMBCAthletics) March 17, 2018
Bill Murray, superfan: The actor is likely to be playing the role of rumpled fan/supportive dad again Sunday night as Xavier, where his son Luke is an assistant, takes on No. 9 Florida State. Xavier, we must remind you, is a No. 1 seed. Best of luck, Bill. If recent history is any guide, Xavier is gonna need it.
Bill Murray: man of the people pic.twitter.com/qgLXEJ4pOG
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) March 17, 2018
— So … UMBC, huh? A school’s whose rising academic reputation may have been lost on most of the country suddenly finds itself in a national spotlight, despite Sunday’s truTV billing. School President Freeman A. Hrabowski III is an activist, innovator and “mega nerd,” but as The Post’s Jerry Brewer writes, Hrabowski’s latest role is “Giddy basketball fan.” Perhaps the biggest breakout star of the weekend was Zach Seidel, a 27-year-old alumnus of the school whose irreverent but joyous tweeting attracted legions of supporters. And don’t forget about Jairus Lyles, a DeMatha graduate who, with his teammates is carrying the flag for Maryland basketball this week. And check out his high school roster.
— No. 13 seed Marshall is an underdog against fifth-seeded West Virginia, but the matchup may be less one-sided than you think. Led by Dan D’Antoni, brother of Houston Rockets Coach Mike, the Thundering Herd rely on an NBA-flavored offense that prioritizes three-pointers and layups, and relies on incessant and relentless picking and rolling. Sunday’s game will provide a fascinating test for the Mountaineers.
— Clemson vs. Auburn is a football semifinal, right? There has to be tailgating before this game, right? And the winner will face some other Southern power for a national championship, right? (Wrong: The winner will actually play No. 1 seed Kansas. Good thing for Jayhawks fans this isn’t actually a football tournament.)
— No. 10 seed Nevada survived a first-round game that looked hopelessly lost, but as The Post’s Chuck Culpepper wrote, the Wolf Pack’s rally from 14 points down was “yet another indicator of a strong stomach.” It was Nevada’s first NCAA tournament win in 11 years. Up next: Cincinnati.
— Among Saturday’s second-round highlights: Loyola Chicago moving on to the Sweet 16 thanks to a go-ahead bucket in the final seconds. And that will mean another week of temporary fame for Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, 98, the team’s chaplain and one of this tournament’s most compelling characters.
— Defending champs North Carolina will attempt to get back to the Sweet 16, with seventh-seeded Texas A&M standing in the way. The Tar Heels are looking for a third straight Final Four berth, and as Brewer found out, Coach Roy Williams is preaching fun above all. Don’t take any of this for granted: “Every win, every round, warrants a little revelry,” Brewer writes.
— Wondering what’s most likely to happen next? The Post’s Neil Greenberg continues to update his live tournament odds, which now reveal that Duke has a 49 percent chance of advancing to the Final Four.
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