Sometimes March Madness is defined by the chaos that ensues when big name teams go down, or Cinderella teams surprise us all. However, the south region doesn’t have any of that as chalk reigns supreme and the top four seeds all remain.
Butler advanced as the four seed on Saturday, while the top three seeds all played on Sunday. Blue bloods North Carolina, Kentucky, and UCLA were all tested throughout their games, and they all passed. Chalk is the way of the land in the South region heading to the Sweet 16.
Two Close Calls
North Carolina Tarheels vs Arkansas Razorbacks
This game was played a frenetic pace. With the effort, aggressiveness, and athleticism on display it was even exhausting to watch at times. The Tarheels jumped out to an early lead after scoring the games first eight points. They would build on that fast start thanks to Kennedy Meeks and an early domination on the glass. The lead eventually ballooned to 30-13 and it appeared UNC might run away and hide.
Arkansas responded with a 15-2 run, and closes the gap to five at the half, 38-33. They used that momentum, a frantic pace, and some sloppy play to fight all the way back and take the lead. Dusty Hannah‘s three gave them a 50-46 lead. The Tarheels tied it at 50 with eleven minutes to go, and neither team would lead by more than five again until the final margin.
The Razorbacks, who were led by Daryl Macon‘s 19 points, led 65-60 with three minutes to go. Helped by some bad offensive possessions, North Carolina ended the game on a 12-0 run to win 72-65.
Player of The Game – Kennedy Meeks (North Carolina)
The senior forward controlled the paint today. Meeks dominated at times on his way to 16 points, 11 boards, and 3 blocks.
Kentucky Wildcats vs Wichita State Shockers
This game turned out to be everything it was billed as. Two very good teams in a battle where the largest lead all game was seven points. Coach John Calipari‘s team showed it cuold win in multiple ways by using defense to grind out a victory over the shockers.
Wichita State close the within one at 63-62 after a three by Landry Shamet with just under a minute to go. They would get two chances to take the lead or tie in the final minute but both jump shots were blocked by Kentucky. Along with two free throws from Malik Monk, the two blocked shots allowed the Wildcats to escape with a victory.
Player of the Game – Bam Adebayo (Kentucky)
Freshman big man Bam Adebayo continues to be a force for the Wildcats. He posted another double double tonight with 13 points and 10 rebounds. He also blocked Wichita State’s attempt at a last second game tying three pointer.
Bruins Awaken in 2nd Half
UCLA Bruins vs Cincinnati Bearcats
The Bearcats stifled the Bruins explosive offense in the first half. They held them to a season low 30 points at the break and led by three. Following a quick 8-2 start by UCLA, Cincinnati fought back into the contest. They held the high scoring team form the PAC 12 to just six points over the next seven minutes as they eventually took the lead.
Coach Mick Cronin‘s team would then hold a lead for much of the first half. The Bearcats led 47-46 with 14 minutes to go when UCLA used an 18-5 run to take control of the game. Paced by all five starters scoring in double figures, the Bruins just proved to be too potent to contain all game. They dished out 21 assists and hit 11 threes in showing just how efficient and offense they are. Cincinnati had four double figure scorers, including 15 from freshman Jarron Cumberland off the bench. IT was not enough to overcome UCLA’s plethora of scoring options.
Player of the Game – Lonzo Ball (UCLA)
Lonzo Ball‘s finger prints were all over this game. He seemed to control things in every aspect. He checked nearly every box in the stat sheet with 19 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Chalk in Memphis
(1)North Carolina Tarheels vs (4)Butler Bulldogs
(2)Kentucky Wildcats vs (3)UCLA Bruins
No brackets are busted in the South region. All fours top seed now prepare for Friday in Memphis and the Sweet 16. Chalk has reigned supreme in the South and now we are rewarded with two great match ups.