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Andy Wittry & Andrew Cyr | | March 18, 2018

Eight takeaways from Saturday's second round action

March Madness Moments: Saturday's Second Round

The 2018 NCAA tournament continues to be full of unpredictablites and stunners, and after eight teams advanced to the Sweet 16 on Saturday, one thing has remained constant: We have no idea what to expect.

With powerhouses looking dominant, underdogs prevailing and plenty of buzzer beaters, here's eight things we learned from Saturday:

No. 1 Villanova 81, No. 9 Alabama 58

If Mikal Bridges plays like he did in the second half against Alabama, the rest of the NCAA tournament field better watch out. Bridges scored 22 of his 23 points in the second half and went 5-for-6 from 3. The Wildcats’ defense looked as good as it has all season over the last 20 minutes, holding the Crimson Tide to just 36-percent shooting from the field and 2-of-10 from 3. Villanova awaits the winner of Sunday’s West Virginia vs. Marshall winner, but regardless, the Wildcats are looking like the clear-cut favorites from the East region to advance to the Final Four, especially with an elbow injury to Purdue’s Isaac Has.

No. 2 Dule 87, No. 7 Rhode Island 62

Duke went to Pittsburgh and outscored its two opponents 176-129 for an average margin of victory of 23.5, which included a 25-point win over a very talented and experienced Rhode Island team on Saturday. Marvin Bagley III (22 points, nine rebounds, 8-of-10 shooting) and Wendall Carter Jr. (13 points, six rebounds three assists) took advantage of the Rams’ front court while Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval more than held their own against URI’s guard corps. Mike Krzyzewski’s switch to a 2-3 zone with the 6-5 Grayson Allen at the top has transformed the Blue Devils who now await either Michigan State or Syracuse, both of whom they beat earlier in the season. If a rematch with the Spartans happens next weekend, that could be one of the best Sweet 16 games in a long, long time.

No. 5 Kentucky 95, No. 13 Buffalo 75

The Wildcats waltzed to the Sweet 16 after a win against another double-digit seed as Kentucky ran away from No. 13 seed Buffalo 95-75 in a game in which the ‘Cats led by just five with less than eight minutes remaining. Kentucky’s backcourt carried the load offensively as guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo combined for 49 points on 19-of-24 shooting.

After initially facing a potentially perilous path to the Final Four that could’ve included games against Virginia and Arizona, the Wildcats will have a Sweet 16 matchup against either No. 9 seed Kansas State or No. 16 seed UMBC.

No. 11 Loyola Chicago 63, No. 3 Tennessee 62

Loyla-Chicago upsets Tennessee in final moments
Like clockwork, at least one Cinderella team emerges every March. UMBC made history with its upset of No. 1 seed Virginia but Loyola Chicago could be the double-digit seed that makes the deepest run in this year's tournament. For the second time in three days, the Ramblers hit a game-winner to upset a higher-seeded team. This time it was Clayton Custer’s jumper that sent No. 3 seed Tennessee packing. How long can the Ramblers and Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt continue to survive and advance?

MORE: Relive both of Loyola's incredible game-winners in 360 degrees

No. 1 Kansas 83, No. 8 Seton Hall 79

Kansas survived everything that Seton Hall gave them and still pulled out a 83-79 win despite Devonte’ Graham having one of his worst games of the season with just eight points on 1-for-7 shooting (missed all four 3-point attempts) and five turnovers. It’s doubtful Graham will have a repeat performance of Saturday night, but the question is will Malik Newman be the X-factor the Jayhawks need to advance out of the Midwest region. Newman finished with 28 points, including 18 in the second half (4-for-5 field goals, 2-of-3 from 3). Kansas will need more performances like this, especially with Duke, Auburn/Clemson and Michigan State/Syracuse still looming in the region. Next weekend in Omaha is appointment television. 

No. 4 Gonzaga 90, No. 5 Ohio State 84

Gonzaga returned several key players from last year’s national runner-up team but it was two of the Bulldogs’ breakout players that carried them to the Sweet 16 with a 90-84 win over Ohio State. Zach Norvell Jr., a redshirt freshman, and Rui Hachimura, a sophomore who played just six minutes in last year’s NCAA tournament, combined for 53 points and 17 rebounds.

Gonzaga will face the winner of Florida State and Xavier, the latter of whom they defeated in the Elite Eight last season, next weekend.

No. 3 Texas Tech 69, No. 6 Florida 66

There’s always something to be said about senior guards in March, and Texas Tech’s Keenan Evans was the latest example of that Saturday night against Florida. The Red Raiders survived not one but two open 3-pointers from the Gators that would have tied the game, but instead it was Texas Tech advancing to its first Sweet 16 with a 69-66 win behind Evans’ 22 points. Freshman guard Zhaire Smith — who finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists — is the prefect backcourt complement to Evans, and with either Butler or Purdue waiting in Boston, Evans will need to continue to be the Red Raiders’ driving force.

No. 3 Michigan 64, No. 6 Houston 63

3-pointer by Jordan Poole
If you stayed up to watch the finish to Saturday’s last game, the decision paid off for you. Michigan, trailing Houston by two with 3.6 seconds left, executed to perfection an inbounds play that resulted in freshman guard Jordan Poole making a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Wolverines to the Sweet 16.

Now Michigan potentially gets to play North Carolina, the No. 2 seed in the West who beat the Wolverines by 15 in November, or Texas A&M.

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