The second full day of 2021 NCAA Tournament action got underway on Saturday and the Big Ten was well represented with three teams in action. Top seeds Michigan and Iowa opened up against what figured to be overmatched opponents and Maryland also had an intriguing matchup against UConn.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 10 Maryland Terrapins 63, No. 7 Connecticut Huskies 54
Despite many thinking UConn could be the most underseeded team in the NCAA Tournament, Maryland knocked off the Huskies in the opening round. Eric Ayala led the way with 23 points and Maryland shut down UConn’s vaunted offense. The Huskies finished with 0.93 points per possession and star James Bouknight had an 82 offensive rating.
Maryland improved to 17-13 overall with the win. This is the program’s fifth NCAA Tournament win since 2015. It’s quite an achievement for Mark Turgeon and staff and sets up a monster matchup with Alabama on Monday. A few weeks ago, many were skeptical the Terps would even make the NCAAs, let alone advance to the Round of 32. It’s been quite a turn of events.
-No. 1 Michigan Wolverines 82, No. 16 Texas Southern Tigers 66
Yeah, there wasn’t much to take away from this one. Michigan overwhelmed a pretty underwhelming Texas Southern team en route to a 16-point win. Mike Smith led the way with 18 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. The Wolverines will now prepare for a game against LSU on Monday night. The Tigers should be much tougher than Texas Southern.
-No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes 86, No. 15 Grand Canyon Antelopes 74
While the Hawkeyes were certainly favored heading into tip, this game looked like it could be more dangerous than some expected. And some of that showed on Saturday, as Grand Canyon finished with 1.17 points per possession and a pretty productive night offensively. However, Iowa’s offense and Luka Garza were simply too much for Grand Canyon, as the Hawkeyes finished with an even better 1.37 points per possession.
The win pushed Iowa to 22-8 overall and into the Round of 32 for the second NCAA Tournament in a row. The team will now prepare for a game against Oregon, who advanced after VCU had to cancel due to COVID-19 concerns. Hawkeye fans will hope this appearance doesn’t end the same way as the team’s last trip, which was a brutal overtime loss to Tennessee. However, Iowa will be the favorite this time around.