Sunday was a big day for the Big Ten and the NCAA Tournament as it was filled with major matchups, intriguing storylines, and upsets. Let's take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day
#7 Michigan State Spartans 60 - Virginia Cavaliers 54
In the opening game on Sunday, Michigan State was able to dominate a physical battle with the ACC champion Virginia Cavaliers. Tom Izzo always has his team prepared come March, and this team is no different, even though they had a disappointing regular season. The Spartans will return to the Sweet 16 for the 4th straight season when they face the #3 Oklahoma Sooners in Syracuse on Friday.
Michigan State, and specifically Travis Trice, came out firing from the opening tip to take a 15-4 lead less than 6 minutes into the game. 13 of those points came from Trice, who was 3 for 3 from behind the arc during the stretch. The Spartans then cooled off just as quickly as the heated up, only scoring 2 points over the next 7 minutes, but they were able to hold their lead with stellar defense, especially on the interior. The first half pace was controlled by Virginia, and consequentially there wasn't much scoring in the half. MSU came out on top at the break 23-18.
The 2nd half tempo was controlled by the Spartans, which resulted in faster play and more scoring. Virginia was able to cut the deficit to two after a pair of Justin Anderson layups. Branden Dawson then took over the game, scoring 5 points, grabbing 4 rebounds and posting 1 block over a 2 minute span that fueled an 8-0 run that pushed Michigan State's lead back to double digits. Dawson finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. Virginia responded with a 9-1 run of their own to cut the deficit back to 4, but Branden Dawson immediately cooled the fire. It seemed like every time that Virginia got close, Michigan State responded with a basket or two. Michigan State's poor free throw shooting (20-33) kept Michigan State from pulling away. However, MSU was able to keep Virginia at arms length the rest of the game, never allowing Virginia to get any closer than 4 points the rest of the way, but never going up by more than 9. Travis Trice was able to ice the game at the free throw line, and Michigan State walked away with the upset. Trice ended the game with 23 points despite having a 27 minute scoring drought in the middle of the game.
#2 Gonzaga Bulldogs 87 - #7 Iowa Hawkeyes 68
This game was just as bad for Iowa as the game against Davidson was good. It was a complete disaster from the start as Kevin Pangos and Kyle Wiltjer heated up early for Gonzaga. Gonzaga spent more than 3/4 of the game up by double digits, including the entire second half. Aaron White struggled early, but eventually ended up with 19 points on 7 of 13 shooting and Jarrod Uthoff led the Hawkeyes with 19 points in a game that they hope to erase from their memories forever. Kyle Wiltjer scored a game high 24 points on 10-12 shooting (4-6 from three). Domantas Sabonis had 18 points and 9 rebounds for Gonzaga and Kevin Pangos added 16 points.
#1 Wisconsin Badgers 72 - #8 Oregon Ducks 65
Wisconsin led for 38 minutes and 55 seconds of the game, but Oregon, led by Joseph Young's 30 points, made it interesting down the stretch. Wisconsin kept a 3-7 point lead for much of the 2nd half until Oregon tied it at 52 with 5:30 to play but Sam Dekker scored 5 of his 17 points to push the lead back to 6 and they pulled away at the end when no one other than Joseph Young could make a basket. Frank Kaminsky had his usual 16 points and 7 rebounds. Wisconsin will play the North Carolina Tarheels in the Sweet 16 on Thursday.
#5 West Virginia Mountaineers 69 - #4 Maryland Terrapins 59
West Virginia basketball is known for their strong full court pressure defense that forces more turnovers than any other team in the nation. Maryland couldn't handle the pressure West Virginia had 15 steals and Maryland had 23 turnovers in the game that they were unable to overcome. The big story for Maryland in the game was when Melo Trimble went down hard with about 8:20 remaining in the game, resulting in a head injury. The team doctors ruled Trimble out for the rest of the game with a concussion. Big props go out to that medical staff for keeping him out of the game. He probably wanted to go back out on the floor, and Maryland may have been able to win with him out there, but they knew that his health is more important than a basketball game. It was a valient effort in the end without Trimble, but the Terrapins fell just short.