And just like that, the 68 team NCAA Tournament field becomes 16. The Murray State-Colorado State game that kicked things off on Thursday afternoon legitimately feels like it was about five weeks ago. At that time, only four No. 15 seeds had ever defeated a two, Missouri was everybody's pick to win the West region, no state had ever sent four teams to the Sweet 16, and no one had ever heard of Kyle O'Quinn.
Times have changed.
It was an insane and historic weekend in college basketball with a pair of 15 seeds winning games within hours of one another, seven double-digit seeds advancing to the Round of 32 in one day, and the state of Ohio posting a perfect 8-0 record and sending four different teams to the Sweet 16. It still feels like we're overdue for a buzzer-beater though.
But despite all the madness, it's the third Monday of March, all four of the tournament's No. 1 seeds are still playing, and top overall seed Kentucky still appears to be a head above the rest of the field.
We're just a couple of hours into this basketball-less day, and I already don't care for it. I don't care for it one bit.
Here's how Sunday brought us to this point.
3 BEST GAMES
1. No. 2 Kansas 63, No. 10 Purdue 60
Kansas avoided this officially turning into the tournament of the toppled twos (That's a shame. Fun to say.) by overcoming a 10-point second half deficit to slip past Robbie Hummel and the upset-minded Boilermakers.
Purdue was still clinging to a 60-59 lead and had the ball and under a minute remaining when Lewis Jackson lost control of the ball at the top of the key, allowing Elijah Johnson to score the go-ahead lay-up on the other end for the Jayhawks with just under 24 seconds to play.
Breaking down Kendall Marshall’s injury.
Hummel missed an open look at a three on the other end and Tyshawn Taylor - instead of pulling the ball out and running out the clock - converted an uncontested dunk to extend the margin to three with 2.5 seconds left.
After a timeout, Purdue sharpshooter Ryne Smith got a decent look at a potential game-tying three-pointer, but it clanked off both the backboard and the rim before falling harmlessly to the ground.
National Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson was frustrated by double teams for most of the night, but still managed to finish with 11 points and 13 rebounds to lead Kansas. Hummel, a fifth-year senior who was a first team All Big Ten honoree as a freshman before his career was derailed by two ACL tears, scored 22 points in the first half and finished with a game-high 26.
"What a great game," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "It wasn't the best played, but it was a grind-it-out, typical Big Ten game. Hummel was unbelievable and we just hung in there."
The Jayhawks now move on to face 11th-seeded N.C. State on Friday night.
2. No. 6 Cincinnati 62, No. 3 Florida State 56
Tough man-to-man defense, physical play inside, bodies everywhere and not a lot of points on the scoreboard. You probably hated watching it (you definitely hated watching it), but sixth-seeded Cincinnati's upset of No. 3 Florida State was the defining slugfest of a tournament that has been chock full of them.
Though its rugged nature eliminated the possibility of it ever being described as a "classic," this game featured 19 lead changes and 11 ties.
Neither team led by more than three in the second half until the Bearcats scored seven straight points in the game's key stretch. UC's Sean Kilpatrick hit a free throw to tie it at 50, then Dion Dixon stole the ball and slammed the Bearcats on top by two. Cashmere Wright then hit a jumper and Yancy Gates added two free throws for a 56-50 lead with 35.3 seconds left. The Bearcats sealed the victory by hitting all eight free throws in the final 35.3 seconds.
Making its first Sweet 16 appearance in 11 years, Cincinnati will face in-state rival and No. 2 seed Ohio State on Thursday night.
3. No. 11 NC State 66, No. 3 Georgetown 63
Lorenzo Brown hit three free throws in the final 10.6 seconds, and Jason Clark's three-pointer at the buzzer found nothing but air as NC State upset third-seeded Georgetown to punch its first ticket to the Sweet 16 since 2005.
"We always talk about how we have such a great history at N.C. State," said first-year head coach Mark Gottfried. "But it's also time to build some new history."
C.J. Williams, Scott Wood and C.J. Leslie each had 14 points, and Brown added 12 for the Wolfpack, a team few expected to even make the field of 68 until early March.
For Georgetown, it was a disappointing end to an otherwise overwhelmingly positive season. The Hoyas began the year picked 10th in the Big East and still clouded by controversy after being involved in a brawl with a team from China during an exhibition game in August. They wound up finishing tied for fourth in the conference and earned a three-seed on Selection Sunday, a pair of accomplishments now sullied by their third straight year with a loss to a double-digit seed in the big dance.
3 TEAMS THAT WON IT BEST
A drubbing of a 15-seed in the NCAA Tournament generally isn't a praise-worthy accomplishment, but it's a little different when the 15-seed is one that just knocked off a team considered by many to be one of the tournament's top national title contenders.
Florida ended the feel-good story of MEAC champion Norfolk State by going on a 25-0 run in the first half and cruising to an 84-50 victory. Combined with their 71-45 win over Virginia on Friday, the Gators head into the Sweet 16 with an average margin of victory in the tournament of 30. Not a resume bullet you generally see from a seven seed.
2. N.C. State
N.C. State may have been an 11 seed facing a three, but the Wolfpack looked vastly superior to Georgetown in the second half on Sunday. The Hoyas are known for being bullies around the basket, but it was State that dominated the paint, even when foul-ridden Georgetown center Henry Sims was in the game. They'll face another monster inside challenge on Friday when Thomas Robinson and No. 2 Kansas are the opponent.
3. North Carolina
Carolina again looked like the well-oiled offensive machine that was the preseason pick to win it all, as it rolled to a decisive victory over Creighton. Unfortunately, the luster of the performance quickly wore off when it was announced after the game that point guard Kendall Marshall had fractured his right wrist.
3 BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS
You hate that one loss can dampen an otherwise overwhelmingly positive season, but that (again) appears to be the case for Georgetown, which has now been upset by a double digit seed in three consecutive seasons, and four of the past five.
The fact that the defensively-challenged Bluejays gave up 87 points to North Carolina may have been disappointing, but it wasn't necessarily a surprise. What was a surprise, however, was the Missouri Valley champions' chippy play. On multiple occacions, Creighton players appeared to go after the injured wrist of UNC forward John Henson, and then there was also Gregory Echenique's fairly vicious forearm shiver to Tyler Zeller.
A very un-Valley performance all around.
3. South Florida
The Bulls had never won a tournament game before winning two to get to the Round of 32, but that doesn't mean Stan Heath and company didn't wake up Monday morning wondering about what might have been. The Bulls led for most of the game before going ice cold and allowing Ohio to go on a 10-0 run and open up an eight-point lead with just over three minutes to play.
The Bobcats became the the seventh team seeded No. 13 or higher to advance to the regional semifinals, and the first since No. 13 Bradley accomplished the feat in 2006. None of those seven teams won their next game, a trend OU will look to break against North Carolina on Friday.
Robbie Hummel, Purdue
Scored 22 points in the first half of his college swan song, and finished with 26 on 9-of-13 shooting.
Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Despite suffering what turned out to be a fractured right wrist, the sophomore floor general scored 18 points and dished out 11 assists to spearhead UNC's throttling of Creighton.
Kenny Frease, Xavier
The big man who might be best known for being on the receiving end of a Yancy Gates sucker punch in December scored a career-high 25 points to go with 12 rebounds, as Xavier ended No. 15 seed Lehigh's Cinderella run with a 70-58 win.
Scored a game-high 23 points, but it wasn't enough to lead the third-seeded Hoyas past NC State.
Draymond Green, Michigan State
A game after becoming just the third player in Division-I history to record multiple triple-doubles in the NCAA Tournament, Green scored 16 points to go with 13 rebounds and six assists as Michigan State outlasted No. 9 seed Saint Louis, 65-61.
3 SATURDAY CHEERS
1. Robbie Hummel
Hummel leaves Purdue as the school's ninth all-time leading scorer, but it will be the perseverance it took for him to play through two ACL tears and a broken vertebra that will leave him forever beloved in West Lafayette. He was the first Boilermaker to earn first team All-Big Ten honors as a freshman, and then the injuries started.
No one would have blamed Hummel for hanging it up after the first ACL tear (he'd already played through a broken back), and I think most people expected him to call it a career after the second. But his remarkable resolve resulted in a solid and healthy fifth year, one which almost included him carrying his team into the NCAA Tournament's second weekend.
2. Clark Kellogg's Reaction To His Son Advancing To The Sweet 16
Regardless of how you feel about Kellogg or the job he does at CBS, it was pretty cool to see his reaction to the news that his son Nick and Ohio had defeated South Florida and punched their ticket to the Sweet 16.
3. Mick Cronin
Cronin has been widely criticized throughout his tenure at UC, originally for his team's poor on-court performance and most recently for his handling of the Bearcats' ugly brawl with rival Xavier in December. On Sunday, Cronin was able to do something Cincinnati legend Bob Huggins never did during his time in the Queen City: defeat a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament. He's also got the Bearcats back in the Sweet 16 for the first time in 11 years.
3 SATURDAY JEERS
1. Kendall Marshall's Fractured Wrist
Marshall's status for the rest of the tournament is currently "up in the air," but even if he does return to the floor for the Tar Heels this season, it's hard to imagine him being the same player he's been all season. Even though the injury is to his right wrist and he's left-handed, wrist/hand injuries are incredibly crippling for basketball players, especially point guards.
Not only is Marshall a tremendous player, but he's the only real point guard Roy Williams has on his roster. If he's not going to be able to go or play at at least 80 percent, it's hard to see UNC being a legitimate national title contender, and that's a shame, because after one weekend they've looked like the one team capable of challenging Kentucky.
2. Terrifying Kansas Fan
Because he is terrifying.
Mother of God.
3. Lehigh-Xavier Dentures Guy
I almost find this more unsettling than Terrifying Kansas Fan.
3 BEST DUNKS
1. Gregory Echenique, Creighton
2. Adreian Payne, Michigan State
3. Jawanza Poland, South Florida
3 BEST QUOTES
1. "He would have had 50 on me. Easily." -- Kansas' Thomas Robinson on what would have happened had he not been unassigned from guarding Purdue's Robbie Hummel.
2. "I said it was going to be a war -- dirty basketball." -- Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus on his strategy for Sunday's game against Michigan State.
3. "We were so far from the NCAA tournament, we couldn't see it with binoculars. These guys, they're prepared to play must-win games because we've been playing them since Dec. 13 at Wright State." -- Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin on his team's mindset since its infamous Dec. 10 brawl with rival Xavier.