The Buckeyes shot lights out throughout the game, hitting 50 percent in the first half en route to building a 43-33 edge at intermission. For the game, Ohio State knocked down 48 percent of its shots. Aaron Craft was all over the court, impacting in a variety of ways. Sound familiar? The junior defensive demon had seven steals and seven assists, while also chipping in four points. And he played his usual suffocating defense, helping force 19 turnovers. A 10-point game at halftime quickly became a glorified scrimmage in the second half, with the Buckeyes notching an eye-popping 52 points after intermission in this lopsided opening NCAA triumph.
It was defense that boosted Illinois to victory on this day. Illinois was especially stingy in the first half, which it allowed only 21 points and closed the final 7:05 of the half on a 13-0 run to take a 37-21 halftime edge. And the Illini showed an ability to withstand adversity in the second half, squandering a 16-point halftime lead and falling behind 44-39 with 9:00 left. But Illinois stayed composed and regained the lead, finishing the game on an 18-5 run.
This game basically was over at tipoff, as Indiana outclassed James Madison—which had to win a play-in game to advance—in every facet of the game. It was a nice tune-up for the Hoosiers, who were just 3-3 in their six games entering the Big Dance after getting bounced by Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Big Ten tourney. Indiana shot very well, hitting 52 percent of its shots and 39 percent from 3-point range. And IU dominated on the glass, 40-29.
The Badgers never got into an offensive rhythm, shooting an abysmal 25 percent (15-of-59) overall and 23 percent from beyond the arc (7-of-30) in the 57-46 loss to Ole Miss. Credit Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy, who deftly switched between a zone and man defense. That disrupted the Wisconsin shooters, who never got on track. The Badgers led at halftime, but Ole Miss ripped off 17-5 run early in the half to take a 47-41 lead with 3:26 left. The Rebels never looked back and cruised to victory.
The matchup between Trey Burke and South Dakota State guard Nate Wolters was much hyped but it didn’t pan out, as both players struggled. Burke missed his first eight shots and didn’t sink his first bucket until the 12:46 mark of the second half. The sophomore hit just 2-of-12 shots and finished with a season-low six points, failing to reach double-figures for the first time this season. Still, No. 4 seed Michigan handled No. 13 seed South Dakota State, 71-56.
The Spartans were too big, too athletic, too strong and just plain too good for the Crusaders in this second-round game. In fact, the final score is deceiving. This game wasn’t that close. Michigan State played one of its most complete games of the season, being especially dominating on the glass as it aims for a seventh Final Four appearance under Tom Izzo.