2022 NCAA Tournament: Highlights from the Men’s Round of 32

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 19 Div I Men’s Championship – Second Round – Murray State v Saint Peter’s
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 19: Saint Peter’s Peacocks guard Matthew Lee (15) celebrates on the court during the NCAA Division I MenÕs Basketball Championship Round 2 game between the Murray State Racers and Saint Peters Peacocks on March 19, 2022, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

The first two rounds of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament are officially in the books, and what an action-packed weekend it was. Thrilling finish after thrilling finish brackets falling apart at the seams, and the first top-seed fell.

Here are the highlights from the NCAA Men’s Round of 32:

Upset Central in the NCAA Tournament

In total, there were six upsets out of 16 total games this past weekend. That’s nearly 40% of the games played, resulting in an upset. Now, not all upsets are created equal; for instance, the Houston Cougars defeating Illinois is not necessarily a surprise and cannot be considered a true upset; however, there were plenty more to choose from.

The Michigan Wolverines defeated the Tennessee Volunteers by a score of 76-68. The No. 13 seeded Iowa State Cyclones earned a hard-fought win against No. 3 Wisconsin 54-49. No. 10 Miami held top prospect, Jabari Smith, to a quiet night as they overcame No. 2 Auburn by a score of 79-61. Of course, there were two upsets that stood out above the others.

The Baylor Bears became the first No. 1 seed to fall as they were toppled by No 8. North Carolina with a final score of 93-86. The Baylor Bears were far from favorites to win it all — at least among No. 1 seeds — but it is still surprising and impressive that the Tar Heels were able to not only come out victorious but dominate for a good portion of the game.

While the Tar Heel’s upset was surely impressive, the continued run by the NCAA’s lone Cinderella team was even more so.

Saint Peter’s is Playing some Blessed Ball

Few are familiar with Saint Peter’s University — at least as it pertains to the NCAA tournament — as this is only the fourth appearance in the school’s long history. In their previous three efforts, the No. 15 Peacocks were knocked out in the first round all three times. This year? They just defeated No. 7 Murray State to punch a ticket to the Sweet 16.

Senior KC Ndefo led the way for Saint Peter’s, posting a double-double of 17 points and ten rebounds while adding an impressive six blocks along the way. It was an impressive showing from Ndefo and Head Coach Shaheen Holloway, who is expected to become a hot name on the coaching market after this tournament performance.

At this point, it should all be gravy for the Peacocks but don’t expect them to become complacent. This team is tenacious, and they know that any team that makes it to the NCAA tournament belongs and has a chance to win it all.

The Battle of the Bulldogs and Tigers

Perhaps the highlight of the round of 32 was the battle between top-seeded Gonzaga and No. 9 Memphis. In a star-studded game featuring the likes of Chet Holmgren and Jalen Duren, it was a fight until the very end as Gonzaga came out on top 82-78.

For Gonzaga, it was the duo of Andrew Nembhard and Drew Timme who led the way as they combined for 48 points. Timme’s second-half performance, in particular, was crucial for the Bull Dogs’ victory as he scored 21 of his 25 points after the half.

This matchup was a truly remarkable showdown that had the atmosphere of an Elite Eight game, at the very least. Hopefully, the round was an appetizer for the enjoyment to come in this tournament.

The action starts up again Thursday, March 24th, as the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen begins with a 7:09 PM EST game between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 4 Arkansas. Gonzaga is already the heavy favorite at -9. It certainly won’t be easy to overcome Gonzaga’s firepower, but as one of the nation’s top defensive teams, Arkansas may be able to knock them off their groove.